Its Madden time once again, and for the 22nd time we are getting to jump into gaming’s premier sporting franchise. With Drew Brees from the 'New Orleans Saints' leading the way, its time to kick off with Madden NFL 11.
When it comes to football simulation, the Madden series offers up an experience like no other. For die-hards, Madden is an easy buy as its exclusive hold on the NFL licencing rights leaves you no other choice. However, even if you had a choice, you would likely be returning to Madden year-after-year. EA Tiburon knows the game of football and 'Madden NFL 11' is another example how the team out east works their magic on a series.
Go with the Flow
In reproaching Madden, EA Tiburon wanted to make the Madden experience more accessible to rookie players who might normally find the number of options in Madden overwhelming. For those seeking a more casual experience ‘Madden NFL 11’ delivers this with a new feature called Gameflow. Gameflow is a new simplified calling system that lets the A.I. offer up its own plays based on the situational status of the in-game action in real-time. Releasing control to the CPU -acting as a true NFL coach- takes the hassle of stifling through 300+ plays to find the one you are going to run. This automatic selection is a new twist on the conventional playbook that should help "newbies" grab a better sense of the game without all the confusion of learning X's and O's.
Even if you're skeptical about this new feature, it is worth checking out. The automatic nature of having calls made on the fly makes you act quickly as a man of action of the field, bringing in a closer sense of what a real quarterback would experience. Making quick decisions and running plays with the control slightly out of our hands was extremely refreshing and one that I welcomed. I can understand why a good majority of Madden gamers will simply brush the 'Gameflow' feauture off as an embellished translation of "Ask Madden," however, it feels like an entire new beast, and even if has the same flavour as the old "Ask Madden," its a vast improvement on that concept.
Deeping the experience to make the gameflow feature feel more homely, you can tweak and create your own offensive and defensive plays in over convoluted 'gameplan' custom filter. This includes creating your own play slots that can be ranked on how often they are introduced into the game. Creating your own playbook of sorts is fun and it deepens your involvement with the game, although, I didn’t find it to be nearly as interesting as letting Madden emulate the real-life tendencies of each team.
All the action in Half the time
In addition, the new Gameflow feature exponentially cuts down the amount of time each game will take. By spending less time running through menus you will have more time enjoying the game on the field. This shakes games down to a nicely paced 30-40minutes, a godsend for those who get a little tired of long drawn out games. Quickening things up and making more accessible is a welcomed changed and one that will likely drawn in a larger audience, who might have been taken back by the number of options in a simple game of pigskin.
A few more Tweaks
The controls in Madden NFL 11 have also been giving the once over making the game more welcoming to pick-up-and-play. The most notable changes are full analog speed control, which basically means ‘auto-sprint,’ so we don’t have to hold down the “sprint” button anymore! Interesting enough, now that it is gone, I wonder why it was added in the first place?! Along side the removal of that button is improved responses depending on your players’ ability. Agility, speed, and momentum all play a more important role that translates perfectly with auto-sprinting. Continuing to tweak the A.I. seems to been given a few new sets of rules with a focus on getting up the field, improving edge defense and creating more opportunities for the ball carries.
In a strange choice Tiburon has changed the routing and assignment controls to the D-Pad, labelling it with the name called ‘Strategy Pad.’ This change is a little muddling, since the initial layout worked just fine. The main culprit to productivity here is more than one button press to reach different features. This is fine in slower paced games, but if you are in there with a quick snapper then you might as well forget about changing up your tactics on the fly.