Madden NFL 11: Bringing It to the Booth

EA Sports is bringing Gus Johnson to its upcoming football game and the difference is remarkable.

Quick: Name one thing you didn't like in last year's Madden NFL 10. No, I'm not talking about receivers not getting their feet in on the sidelines. I'm thinking of a larger problem with what was otherwise a very respectable entry in the long-running NFL series from EA Sports. It had nothing to do with the visuals, or the gameplay, or the controls. For me--and for many other Madden 10 players--in an otherwise fine football game, the biggest problem was Tom Hammond.

Now, nothing against Mr. Hammond. The long-time NBC broadcaster is pretty much a legend in his field as he's covered everything from horse racing to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. But his work in Madden NFL 10--which he shared with color commentator Chris Collinsworth--left a lot to be desired. In fact, while Collinsworth's work shined, especially in the post-play breakdowns that worked specifically to Collinsworth's strengths as an unparalleled football analyst, Hammond's lackluster play-by-play calls really didn't work…either by themselves or in conjunction with his partner.

EA Sports knows this. It probably knew it with Madden 09--the first entry that featured Hammond and Collinsworth. With Madden NFL 11, however, EA Sports is finally addressing the problem by bringing in CBS' Gus Johnson to handle play-by-play duties along with Collinsworth. [Full disclosure: GameSpot is a property of CBS Interactive.] Earlier in the month, I had a chance to head down to EA's offices in Redwood Shores, Calif., to check out the new audio changes in Madden 11 and spend some time hanging out with Gus Johnson.

Gus Johnson

According to Ronnie Morales, EA's audio director on Madden 11, bringing Johnson into the Madden fold is just one of the improvements made to the game's audio presentation this year, but it's certainly destined to be the most noticeable. There's somewhere around 90,000 lines of commentary in this year's game--Johnson refers to the mounds of script he's read through as "stacks and stacks and stacks of paper"--which is a far cry from the roughly 500 lines of dialogue that was featured in the first Madden game all those years ago.

Johnson's trademark excitement--if you've ever seen a televised NCAA basketball game with him at the helm, you know the kind of energy he's capable of bringing--was all over the demo of Madden 11 showed off to the press. According to Morales, the biggest change between the audio in this year's game and in games from prior years occurs during midplay, which is where all the excitement happens. Sure, Johnson and Collinsworth can set up the down and distance before the ball is snapped, but it's once the ball is in the quarterback's hands that the real test of the men in the booth begins.

Mid-play is where all the action is in Madden 11--and where new play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson will be at his best.

An example: In Madden 10, when a receiver caught a ball and headed into the open field on his way to the end zone, Hammond rarely did more than call the yard marker he was passing. Certainly, it was accurate, but it was far from exciting. With Madden 11, you can expect to hear Johnson continually amp up the intensity as that receiver sheds tackles and barrels closer to the end zone. By the time that receiver is in the end zone, Johnson is nearly apoplectic, and the whole thing feels less like a clinical operation and more like a gridiron achievement.

Johnson is no stranger to EA--he has previously handled announcing duties for last year's NCAA Basketball 10--but his trademark energy is just one part of the audio chemistry in Madden 11. For the first time, EA Tiburon hired outside writers who have contributed new dialogue for Johnson and Collinsworth to read (in previous years, all dialogue was written internally by producers and developers).

In addition to enhanced commentary, the game's environmental audio has seen a lot attention, with enhanced crowd and stadium noises that will react to the action on the field. If you listen for player-specific chants, such as Seattle Seahawks' receiver T.J. Joushmandzadeh catching a pass, the crowd reacts with a resounding "Hooooouuuuush!" There are also pre-play "hype" presentations for all 32 NFL teams, similar to the one shown featuring New Orleans Saints' QB Drew Brees. When you toss in the additional commentary from your offensive and defensive coordinators, who will be breaking down play calls for you if you're using the new gameflow feature, there's a lot for your ears to take in.

Morales said EA Sports has included plenty of Gus Johnson Easter eggs in the audio presentation--many of which will only be uncovered in very specific circumstances--and he's looking forward to watching the message boards as Madden fans talk about the latest Gus gem they've heard. Personally, I won't be satisfied until I hear a roof-rattling "OH MY GOODNESS!" at the tail end of a Jay Cutler touchdown bomb. After all, I wouldn't expect anything less from Gus.

Look for more coverage on Madden NFL 11 during GameSpot's live coverage of E3 2010 in June.

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Discussion

75 comments
MatrixTheGreat
MatrixTheGreat

PS: NCAA College Football is BEASTIN this year! The only EA football game out that improves year after year....well except 09 and 10. :p

MatrixTheGreat
MatrixTheGreat

@Darkassassin223 Sorry I just saw this. If you read correctly you would have seen I was mad at the NFL for allowing a company for having a Monopoly. I know what Capitalism is for I practice it everyday. My point is without competition theres no need for you to try to beat yourself year after year. IE: The Nba Live series keeps getting beat out by 2k but you can see where they are trying hard as hell to take over that market. Now for me going outside and playing football is out of the question. It's too hot. lol I'm just going to buy NCAA College football instead.

wendinmikey
wendinmikey

So much to be said and so much repeating :). Yup, Madden's old, this article is horrible if it really is there way of "hyping" anything. Listen Tom didn't do a horrible job, although he was a bit boring, the issue was the programming that had him calling pass plays on running plays, and running on passing! WHAT A JOKE! But alas, that's not his fault, it's simply the laziness that has become Madden. This franchise needs to drop and it needs to drop like 3yrs ago! Backbreaker is different and new, and no, it won't be 'perfect' but it's made by guys who REALLY tried to do something good and new and they did it very very well. Don't reward Madden for another year of roster updates and new coat of polish, if you are buying, buy Backbreaker. The way Madden's been going, they'd be better off just selling a year (like 2007 or 2008) and then offereing roster updates for a small fee each year. The DLC could offer updates but they need to stop trying to overhaul the whole 20 year franchise each addtional year, it's a joke and scam for our cash. So let's hope that Backbreaker does enough to pry the franchise away from Madden before I stop playing football games altogether and write a strongly worded letter to the NFL and tell them where Madden really belongs. ;)

Wozaman
Wozaman

Please, buy backbreaker instead.

3xKrAzY
3xKrAzY

I have bought every Madden produced but this will be the first time I will not be buying the game... RED DEAD REDEMPTION is savage... FYI

mrlingwood
mrlingwood

Its bad when i enjoy a small demo more than an entire game. Even with all the extra features and polish the flaws sap the fun out of the game. Madden 11 will be no different.

3xKrAzY
3xKrAzY

Bottom Line John MADDEN" is the undisputed football commentator of all times...for EA Madden football.

rando22
rando22

oh well would ya look at that.....i'm loving those canned animated tackles....sorry but i've already pre-ordered Backbreaker

Jonny7892
Jonny7892

FULL DISCLOSURE!! We only did this article because CBS told us to promote the fact that one of their commentators was in a game.This game will also automatically get some over inflated rating due to this fact.

TheSplintercat
TheSplintercat

Is this for real?! A new commentator isn't what Madden 11 needs, its something new in the gamepley - everyone knows that, even the slugs at EA. This is just a distraction for the fact its been THE SAME GAME FOR THE LAST FOUR YEARS! Sort it out EA or I, like a lot of others, won't be buying this year.

Cybrpnk200
Cybrpnk200

I wish I could gather up every single copy on NFL2K5 and burn them just so you people will stfu about it already. It's 6 years old. Let it gooooooooooo

KingKevo71789
KingKevo71789

"Personally, I won't be satisfied until I hear a roof-rattling "OH MY GOODNESS!" at the tail end of a Jay Cutler touchdown bomb." Replace "touchdown bomb" with "choke job" or "5 pick day" and we're good :D

rentenny24
rentenny24

yeah ummm ea needs 2 stop making madden n live;smh...2k has taken over

tycobbler
tycobbler

How desperate can you get. Go away EA; just GO AWAY

Sparty_On
Sparty_On

I like that Madden got Gus Johnson I wasn't really a fan of Tom Hammond doing play by play. I wish that Madden still did the play by play for the game but oh well. Madden is great every year it's best football out there.

slycooper21
slycooper21

Oh man, I love Gus, but that hat is garbage. Go Twins!

anthonycg
anthonycg

I hate double-posting but I hate this franchise! All they do is change crap that gamers could care less about! Fix the gameplay!! It sounds like they're marketing this to idiots that like shiny things. I'm not an idiot EA. I'm not buying this pile of ..... Never again..... Long live Madden 07.

anthonycg
anthonycg

They say it's new every year...

MrPush
MrPush

lol damn thas all yall get is new commentary damn I feel sorry for the people who still buy this game.. I stopped since the Snes games.

dellis66
dellis66

the passing game is tight, but trying to do something on D w/out the assist is sort of too tough....putting in the roar would be cool and probably pretty simple

roboccs
roboccs

Can EA finally put the roar that takes place at Ford Field when the Lions get a first down? They have the Viking Horn, the Bronco's chants from the fans, and I think they even do the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets chant. Come on, just a roar please.

MajorGamer531
MajorGamer531

"specifically to Collinsworth's strengths as an unparalleled football analyst," Okay, either the writer is sucking up or does not have a clue about football. Collinsworth is the worst color commentator in the history of football.

ATrico34
ATrico34

I want madden's commentating back!!!!!

ElPadilla
ElPadilla

Yet another reason not to buy this game Gus Johnson is one of the worse announcers for any sport I've ever heard. I can't stand him on Strikeforce he has no idea what he's talking about and always mixes up submissions and techniques. I wasn't going to buy Madden anyways and haven't bought a football game since 2K5. Madden used to be decent when they had competition. Now it's the same recycled gameplay with a legion of sycophants who are too stupid to realize this and buy the game every year.

BLACKWINGS17
BLACKWINGS17

Wow! A new broadcaster! That is remarkable! How do they do it? Now aside from the intense sarcasm this article warrants, this is still just a cookie-cutter football game that people will continue to shell out 60$ for updated rosters. The definition of madness is said to be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. EA makes the same game every year and expects more people to buy it, and the fans buy it every year expecting it to be better. Who is more mad?

someGAMEcream
someGAMEcream

I would actually prefer John Maddens voice (I miss it) comentating, but this is a real positive step I think.

felixlpilon
felixlpilon

Something I believe we should also be talking is that football games are among the simplest around these days. You do not need incredible computer power to program a solid football game with a few teams and now that keep insisting on getting a new game out every year, let's face it, not much progress can be made anymore. That why madden on PS2 was so great. The technology was finally able to let them do what they want and provide us with fun football games. Let's face it, we've had our fun with madden and there is no need anymore for a yearly franchise. It should be like Bethesda's or Blizzard's games. Work on something great even until it's ready, then release it and let everyone enjoy it. Personnaly, if I want to play some football, I will simply go back to my beloved PS2 and play some nice Madden 2005 or Madden 06, or NCAA football 07.

felixlpilon
felixlpilon

Ever since Madden has had the exclusive license with the NFL, it has stopped inovating, has become complacent and the game has suffered a lot. Ever since Madden moved from the PS2 to next gen, the games are downright unplayable. They've screwed up the controls, destroyed franchise mode and have added a bunch of useless and incomprehensible features. They could have so much with the PS3's hardware and all they did was ruin a great game. It used to be one of my favorite activities but now, I have no reasons to play madden anymore.

ZOA3DO
ZOA3DO

And why does madden 10 always switch u to the person who not in position on D to make a play ????? that kills me....and the Superstar mode is horrible...im like wtf!!!

DarkManxXx
DarkManxXx

FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL AND FAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How about when WR's catch a pass and you start running backwords (Screens mostly) Screw the agility of the player It happens to me w/ Steve Smith all the time. Holding calls and injured players (Had 6 in 3 quarters in a Online Franchise game). AND THE CHAIN GANG BS CRAP S*@T holy crap I wanted to jump off a building watching me barrel 3 yards past a firstdown and they have to messure..and last...the way everything goes aginst you in games...especially divisional games..droped int's over and over fumbles, droped passes if you get a 4th down stop that should make your team stand a chance not continue to get smashed open... EA YOU #$@@#$ SUCK AND ALWAYS WILL.

Flinet91
Flinet91

Fix the gameplay first! i dont give a crap about the broadcasters, in fact i dont even listen to them, i play my music instead. So fix the gameplay so the game is more enjoyable and maybe then EA can start fixing "luxury problems"

crunchb3rry
crunchb3rry

That's EA for you. Adding a few trivial features and acting like it's a complete evolution of the series. Until they lose the exclusive NFL license, there will be no evolution. Just right stick modifications and your Be A Pro character will get to have a choice of shoe color.

jedikevin2
jedikevin2

This is it? We've reached a point where Madden has to push a new announcer as something special? Like I told people a while back, EA should have just got one good game out for 2 years and in the meantime just release a 25 dollar stat rebuild/ player package 2 weeks before release NFL season begins. It would keep new makes of Madden fresh while allowing good profit margins. This is starting to get a bit sad now. I can't really argue though, people will still be going out and getting the new Madden games on release.

Arab-man666
Arab-man666

Maddens got more problems than that. A crap load more. Hears to hoping someone other than EA gets the NFL license... someday...

LoserMike
LoserMike

As long as he doesn't do the commentary for EA Sports MMA, I'm happy. He's one of the worse announcers in MMA, can't even tell the difference between an armbar or kimura.

Keving7
Keving7

although...hammond sucked so im not quite sure what i'd rather have....

Keving7
Keving7

I CANT STAND THIS GUY!!!!!! all he does is SCREAM at really insignificant points in the game, but when theres a big play, he pretty much explodes. aka the most annoying thing in the world. he would call buffalo bills games, and JP losman would bomb it to lee evans a few times a game, i got so sick of hearing him scream....LEEE EEVVVAAANNNNNSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

xthabeast
xthabeast

Back breaker is garbage, its really no fun to play when you arnt playing with your favorite team or players. Also, will protak still be there?

jrorl63
jrorl63

a new announcer isint enough to save madden, it was killed a long time ago. back breaker is gonna be the next big football game

PewPewNinja
PewPewNinja

@Darkassassin223 Because we aren't getting a new producer of a football game for a while.. look at " Backbreaker "

live_dog
live_dog

So exactly how many years will it take til we get proper gameplay. Getting a little ridiculous. They were almost there, too. Most of the gameplay is pretty good. But not in the most noticeable and important areas to me. COVERAGE (yuck) and receiving. I love football and still try to play these games but I can't believe they aren't advancing the controls at all it seems in these areas. I have to buy it this year because I haven;t bought a new one in a while and a few other reasons, nothing having to do with me being excited about getting it really. Great they fixed the commentary, but that doesn't help me make plays on the ball defensively. You basically have to count on a teammate being in the right spot and then at the last minute taking over and intercepting or swatting the ball. The ps2/ x-box had these things down, I just don't get it. Really saddens me as a fan.

pleezebeleevit
pleezebeleevit

This years gimmick, now everybody will get a good running back like A.P. and run all day, they still move stupid(spin gets u 5 extra yards, now the new motion- which they got cuz their scared thet backbreaker moves better -has u skating for big azz runs, jes ckeck the vid. Madden is to wide open and thats not pure football, phuck dat.

TrapMuzik92
TrapMuzik92

Thank you god...some people may not know how much of a difference this will be. Madden 10 lacked so much enthusiasm the commentator's were boring as crap. this was much needed

king_chapeton15
king_chapeton15

cant wait for madden 11 and the 2010 NFL season! Gus is good but they should consider a radio announcer like the legendary Joe Starkey or Greg papa or bob papa

Darkassassin223
Darkassassin223

@MatrixTheGreat Well they do add limited (1) thing each year so i agree with you there. But commentary is a significant part of the audio presentation. I remember when I would just get pi##ed off because of repetitive commentary. And EA isn't forcing anyone to buy anything. All it is is smart business and capitalism. If you have money, you use it to better yourself. Ya, its selfish...but its business. Maybe try going outside and playing football if you're this much against EA. Because we aren't getting a new producer of a football game for a while big guy.

MatrixTheGreat
MatrixTheGreat

Same animation, same models, same running spins that move you 3 yards out the way, oh but then theres GUS JOHNSON! (yawn) NFL needs to stop letting EA monopolize and making people pretty much buy BS year after year because they don't have a choice. If you notice EA is trying to corner the gaming industry. The company that's know for stealing ideas and people because of their deep pockets.