The Teen Review: Madden NFL 11 (Xbox 360)

madden 11 xbox 360 cover

Ah good ‘ol Madden. Every year you bring along so many things– the start of football season, a diversion from school, and one of the most exciting video games of the year. As with years past, EA Sports has kept on making improvements to make the game feel more and more like a true NFL game (I mean, they need to have more than just some roster updates to make you want to go out and buy another copy every year right?)– and this year is no exception. With much improved graphics, gameplay and even a better intro, Madden NFL 11 looks to have the makings of yet another winner in this classic franchise. So, how does it do and better yet– for those on the fence about getting it, is this year’s version worth the $60? Read on for our full review!

Seeing as there is a lot to cover here we’re gonna break it down into a few parts– gameplay, graphics and presentation, and game modes.

Gameplay

madden 11 gameflow 2

This is no doubt one of the biggest parts of a great game, as for it to be great it really has to be fun to play. In this years game EA Sports looked to make the experience even more like an NFL game– removing items like the “Turbo button” (for speed bursts. Now if you want to speed up you’ll need to build up your run– like break some tackles and get into the open field to gain some momentum), re-doing the kicking, and re-tooling the Audible system. These are all great, but they are nothing when compared to the all new GameFlow play calling system, where you rely on your offensive or defensive coordinators to handle the play calling for you. And after playing intensely the last few days, and talking from someone who is a “Madden-addict,” these updates do not disappoint.

madden 11 gameflow

At first I was admittedly a little doubtful the GameFlow system would actually make things better– part of the greatness of Madden was you putting yourself into the game and calling the plays like a head coach. After a few games though, I rarely ever go back to the full playbook (which you can get to in-game by just pressing “X” after a play. From here you can manually pick your next play just like all older Maddens). Most of the time the calls are pretty solid, and when playing single player you will actually hear a coordinator tell you what he wants you to do (though when playing with friends unless you show your play prior to the snap, you have no clue if your about to run a play action or try to make that big run up the gut). And not only does it most of the time make good calls, but it also speeds up the game considerably turning hour games into half hour games (something that’s great for those of us who try to sneak some games in during the school year).

madden nfl 11 kicking

I also really like the tweaks to the actual in gameplay. Kicking is now two presses of  the “A” button, one for power and one for accuracy, and while it would look like it’s easier than previous Maddens, it actually is a little harder to always get that perfect kick, and I found myself sometimes clicking too soon and missing some easy field goals. And while the changes to the Turbo button may also be a downer for some, I kinda like the fact that you can’t just take a Adrian Peterson or Chris Johnson and blow by everyone with ease (or take a Brett Favre and scramble with the speed of Michael Vick).

All that said however, I do have a couple of gripes about some of the new gameplay. For one, injuries happen all the time. I’ve played games where all three tight-ends get hurt (starter, second, AND third string), and on sometimes really pathetic plays– like one hit and he’s done for the year. It also feels like its way too easy to break tackles. I mean yeah, Brandon Jacobs is a big boy, but is he so big the 6 Houston Texans can’t bring him down at once? Oh, and EA, why no more Madden IQ for personally tailored gaming?

Though again, these are really minor faults on an otherwise much better experience.

Graphics and Presentation

madden 11 gameplay

This one is much more of a mixed bag. On the plus, as with all recent Madden games, the graphics here are even more ridiculous. Players look more realistic, the movements are even more lifelike, and the stadiums are playing some real “stadium music” (like Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train at kickoff) to make you feel even more like you’re at a real game. This part is really a nice job by the team at EA Sports and create one of the nicest looking sports games I’ve ever seen.

Now to the bad. If you were hoping the new team of Chris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson were going to finally lead to some good color commentary you’re gonna need to keep waiting. Don’t get me wrong, at times it feels a lot better, but most of the time it feels a whole lot worse. Chris Collinsworth seems to be repeating every line he’s used in Madden 10, and Gus Johnson— while again a nice improvement– throws out the most random bursts of emotion. At times it’s just random yells when all that happened was a simple screen pass. I really would just love to see EA in next year’s game use a radio team from ANY NFL team to provide the commentary– then at least we’ll have some more real insights and explanations on whats going on and not just the same old thing that’s been going on since the beginning of Madden.

And it really gets annoying seeing all these annoying ads pop-up in the middle of the game. I get it, it’s supposed to feel like a “real game,” that doesn’t mean on the three straight Red Zone trips you need to have Gus Johnson say that this Red Zone update is “brought to you by Old Spice Swagger. Smell like a man, man.” or that every scoring recap needs to have a mention of “brought to you by Verizon, the official wireless sponsor of the National Football League.” We paid our $60 EA, and if you dropped the price on the game and made up with ads we’d be more than ok with it, but don’t splash all these ads in our face and take the money.

Game Modes

Again as with past Maddens, you have the option to play a whole lot of different game modes. Franchise mode now comes with a Super Bowl victory parade and visit to the White House with a virtual President Obama; and that same pathetic Extra Point show. Can they just do what 2K Sports did when they had ESPN NFL 2k6 and a virtual SportsCenter and at least ran some virtual highlights from the past weeks games to make it seem more life-like. There also is a Superstar mode (where you create a player a try to lead him to NFL stardom), and Madden Moments (where you relive some of the greatest plays of last season and try to change history). All three really are similar to years past, though Madden Moments does feel a lot more intense with a play caller telling you plays to run.

madden 11 3-on-3

EA Sports also added in some new online features like 3-on-3 online games (seen above) where 3 players can team up against 3 other players (though you can’t have you and two friends on one 360 play online against 3 guys on a different 360. All players need to be online and in the 360’s case, Xbox Live Gold members). This is all on top of more updates to EA’s online Franchise mode, where Fantasy Football meets Madden (meaning you not just draft a team, but play with it too). We haven’t had a lot of time to really test out all of these new game mode features, but from what we have tested, they seem to be pretty solid and exactly what you’d expect.

Wrap Up

madden nfl 11 pic 2

EA Sports’ Madden NFL 11 is yet another proud update to one the great video game franchises ever created. With even better gameplay, faster games (both in large part thanks to GameFlow), and even better graphics it won’t disappoint if you’re the hard-core Madden fan.

That said, is it worth the update if you already got Madden 10? I would say yes. The improvements mentioned above really do make a difference (which you really notice as you get through those first few games), and there really don’t seem to be any “tragic” flaws as far as I can tell would make me not want to recommend this game. All in all, another very good game that should make your video game football for the upcoming year a whole lot more fun.

Madden NFL 11 is out now for the Xbox 360 and PS3 ($60), Nintendo Wii ($50), PS2 and PSP ($40), and iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad ($8). Note: the review above applies mainly to the 360 and PS3 versions, and not the versions on the other systems.

What you gonna do– you gonna get the new Madden and if you already did, how do you like it? And speaking of football, whose your pick for winning it all this year (though who we kidding, we all know the Giants are going all the way)?

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Posted on August 17, 2010, in First Look/Reviews, Sports, Video Games and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I know the 360 and PS3 versions have been running quite a few years now, But I was wondering if you had any preference between the ps3/360 versions and PS2. I would buy the PS2 version from now until the day I die because it has IMO the far superior gameplay.(although i think this was the last year?). I feel like the player with more skill has more control over his team.

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