Madden 11

Despite the very warm weather, it is almost Fall and if the preseason games were not enough of a clue, football is set to dominate a good part of Sundays and sports radio tale from now until February. Of course it would not be a true kickoff to the season with the release of EA Sports’ next release of the phenomenally popular Madden NFL game. Madden 11 is the latest release and I say it is the best of the recent releases by far. Players can select from all 32 NFL teams and are able to select variables such as stadium and weather conditions. I also liked the exhibition mode and the ability to play the old classic AFL games or simply fire up a rematch of the last Super Bowl right off the start.

Game play has been enhanced as Madden 11 offers greatly improved control and interaction which also features a greatly improved blocking system. Too many times in the past, I struggled with balancing quick decisions, play calling, and precise passing, but Madden 11 has a great Game Flow system which allows my plays to be selected and easily deployed. Should I decide not to pass on a third and short, I was easily able to audible and select a running play. In the past, I struggled to get effective yards on running plays as waiting for the blocks often resulted in my poor running back meeting a pile of linemen. In Madden 11 I was able to quickly hit the holes and pull off some nice jukes to get my back in the clear. Should the need to power up the middle arise, I easily hit the gap and moved the pile, thus moving the chains.

“Simpler, Quicker, Deeper” is the slogan on the back of the game box and being able to simplify play calling along with the ability to get more moves from fewer buttons has, in my opinion, greatly improved the game and allowed gamers to focus more on the flow of the game and strategy rather than button mashing.

Madden 11 also allows up to three players to play as a team which lets a live player control the QB, RB, and WR to truly add an explosive wrinkle to the game as your players can change up the routes mid play, alter the blocking style, and due a variety of things that the computer controlled players often do not.

Another aspect I loved was the kicking game. The simplified way I was able to set power and accuracy allowed me to quickly launch some massive kicks when the clock was winding down which eliminated a lot of frustration I had in the past when a drive stalled.

Since many Madden fans are all about the online play, I am happy to say that Madden 11 shines in this area. I was quickly able to match up with an opponent and even though on paper the 2010 Seahawks are overmatched against the 2011 Saints, I was able to put up a decent fight. I had been handled easily in past online matches but thanks to the improved play calling system I was able to back the opening drive up and get a nice interception on a long ball. Sadly my LB fumbled during the run back but the ability to stuff a long drive on three straight plays was a nice plus for me. I also enjoyed being able to quickly audible a few running plays in when my opponent dropped back to protect the pass. Thankfully, the addition of Golden Tate gave the Hawks a much needed deep threat that had to be respected which allowed plenty of plays underneath the coverage.

The fluidity of the game is what really makes it fun. Not only are the graphics and sound first rate, but the ability to play a full game in half the usual time was also a plus because sometimes you just do not have an hour plus free to play, but your team needs to be put through its paces.

I also liked a mode where I could control the course of my team over three years including free agency, the draft, and seasons. I look forward to playing this more in the weeks ahead. With the great graphics and sound, such as the detailed facial animations and movements to the play by play commentary, it truly makes you feel like you have stepped into the action on game day. I honestly could not find much fault in the game as not only was it fun, but it was far and away the best and most accessible football simulator I have ever played.

5 stars out of 5