Madden NFL 11
System: Playstaton 3
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Electronic Arts Tiburon
Release Date: August 10, 2010
Madden 11’s big selling point last year was that it was catering itself more toward the casual gamer. New features were implemented to make games quicker and easier to pick up and play. The main addition is GameFlow, which has the CPU automatically choose plays for you instead of making you browse a playbook to find something. The chosen plays are hit-and-miss, but I will admit that it’s a cool idea if you are in a rush. Unfortunately, steps like these are ultimately dumbing down the entire Madden experience and creating an increasingly more maddening (pardon the pun) video game.
I could not help but get frustrated more and more with every game I played in Madden 11. I found a lot of minor annoyances, but when added up they become a major problem. Some examples:
— Gus Johnson is the new play-by-play guy. I have nothing against Gus — his announcing of “real life” games brings added excitement to NFL broadcasts. The dude is over the top, but he makes it work. The problem is that Madden eradicates all of this spontaneity from Gus and makes him – gasp – boring. He tends to repeat the same lines over and over, and he has long pauses in between fragments of announcing. These problems make for a painful listening experience.
— I don’t know what happened to the character models this year. On the field, all of the players look the same! There is NO way that Ndamukong Suh should look the same as anyone else on defense, especially not guys in the secondary. Seriously, beef up the linemen and make them stand out from the rest of the team.
— I had some serious issues with the computer AI. You would think that after nearly twenty years of Madden football they would be able to get basic coaching habits down to a tee. CPU coaches still do not know how to use proper time management and frequently make boneheaded decisions. I was able to come back and win a game because the CPU decided to pass on every down despite just needing to run out the clock to secure victory. These types of mistakes happened all the time! I can’t take a game seriously when it doesn’t have the basic fundamentals down.
— Don’t buy this game used if you want to play online at all. EA requires an access code in order to get online — this costs $10 for anyone who buys a used copy of the game. Madden is one of the best selling games every year, why not throw gamers a bone, EA? Do you really need to nickel-and-dime those who want to play your game?
In short, I just didn’t have much fun with Madden 11 this year. The series seems to be going more toward an arcade style of gameplay, and I think that is a terrible idea. I used to spend countless hours playing the Madden games on the PS2/PS1, mostly working my way through the franchise mode every year. I liked the attention to realism back then, and that has been deteriorating the last few years. It sounds like I am being harsh on Madden 11, and I suppose I am, but I should mention that it’s not a *horrible* game. It can be fun to play with friends, but if you are more into the simulation side of things then you will almost certainly grow as frustrated as myself.
So, when does EA’s license deal with the NFL expire?