Review | Madden 11
American football at its best…
Format: Xbox 360/PS3/Wii/PS2 | Genre: Sport | Publisher: EA | Developer: EA | Release Date: 27/08/10 | Price: £49.99
Can the Madden series offer up anything new in its 22nd year? Greg Giddens finds out with MADDEN 11.
THE PROBLEM with annual sport titles is that very little changes in the real sport, and so the videogame version rarely evolves at its core. Madden 11, however, has made a jump forwards this year. Through the tweaking of established settings and a few new additions, what seems minor on the surface has lead to an improved experience that makes Madden 11 the most complete NFL title in years.
Accessibility is one of Madden 11’s primary goals this year. As any fan will tell you, American football is a complex game and its videogamecounterpart has always done an admiral job of recreating that. In the past this has meant a steep learning curve for new comers and an often overwhelming set of options to sift through in-game, however, with the addition of Gameflow this year the complexity is hidden and the accessibility increased. Gameflow does exactly what it says on the box by improving the flow of a game to promote speed. As such both offensive and defensive plays can now be called with the press of a button rather than having to search the playbook for the one you need. Through Gameflow the AI determines which out of a set list of plays is best suited for each situation and through your management of these play-lists – by creating your own sets and weighting the call rate of each play – on the field the experience is smoother and suffers far less interruptions. It has its issues, with some plays being called too often despite your manipulation of its call rate, and to get it working at its best requires a lot of experimentation and fiddling. But its works well on the whole and is a life saver for the less strategy conscience and with the full play book available at any time it’s an addition that can increase game speed without compromising the depth.
Additional accessibility comes from the control scheme. Over the years more and more elements have been automated and this year sees the sprint button disappear and is instead determined by the AI. Incredibly it works. The AI will shift your player from jog to sprint at all the right moments, allowing you to concentrate completely on the positioning. Its feels strange at first but you can’t argue with the results, however,Madden titles seldom shy away from options for customisation, so if you prefer to control your sprint you still can with a quick settings change.
In additional to the control change with the sprint, further changes have been made with the running and tackling. A two-stick control scheme has been introduced allowing you to perform all your trick moves with the right analogue stick – such as spins or defensive power moves – and run with the left stick with exceptional control. The AI also makes a bigger effort to keep your receivers on the field when catching throws. Add to that the adoption of elements such as momentum and player attributes affecting tackles – an element introduced last year which didn’t quite work which has now been tweaked to work brilliantly – and Madden 11 feels like the most realistic as well as enjoyable iterations yet.
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