Madden NFL 11 Review
Improvements such as revamped AI, more realistic animation, and a new play-calling system make this the best Madden yet.
- Gameflow play-calling system speeds up games
- Realistic physics and animation
- Impressive AI on both offense and defense
- Head-to-head competitive play is loads of fun
- Gus Johnson is an awesome play-by-play man.
- Some odd quirks during games
- Ultimate Team and cooperative play don't have long-term appeal
- No way to restart Madden Moments
- Sometimes goofy ball physics.
The annual arrival of Madden signals the end to the summer sports doldrums. The newest entrant in the long-running franchise doesn't offer a substantially different experience from last year's edition, but a number of small tweaks make this the best game yet in the series. Improved artificial intelligence on both sides of the ball eliminates much of the frustration from previous games, and a streamlined play-calling system keeps everything moving at a steady clip, letting you focus on pulling off spectacular plays rather than futzing around in menus. Commentary has also been improved, largely because the interminably dull Tom Hammond has been replaced by the vibrant Gus Johnson. But there are still a number of issues that keep Madden NFL 11 from cruising through the playoffs. The new Ultimate Madden mode is little more than a novelty and a number of odd quirks during games are real head-scratchers. Even with those problems, though, this is a great replication of the hard-hitting sport.
Gameflow is the most obvious addition to Madden NFL 11. This feature allows you to call your offensive and defensive plays with just one button press, which may sound sacrilegious to those who enjoy choosing the perfect play from a list of hundreds but is a welcome option for those who just want to focus on the action. The game does a good job of picking a reasonable play based on down, distance, and game situation, and there is enough variety in the play calling to ensure your opponent is kept on his heels. Even though gameflow offers an intelligent play most of the time, there are still some issues with this feature. Draws and screens are called on consecutive downs too often, killing the element of surprise, and the computer tends to favor the passing game even when you're tearing things up on the ground. You can always audible out of a bad call if you need to or tweak your game plan beforehand to ensure your favorite plays are called more often, but there is one other hurdle: the wildcat formation. This is as predictable in Madden NFL 11 as it is in real life, and all too often, it results in a wasted down because you can't audible to something worthwhile. Even with these issues, gameflow is a welcome addition to the franchise.
The other changes are less noticeable than gameflow, but they have a much larger effect on the action. Artificial intelligence has been greatly improved. In previous games, cornerbacks had trouble covering slant routes, but that's no longer an issue here. On the harder difficulty levels, you need to run a variety of routes to have any sort of success, so you can't just rely on a few money plays to march down the field. The offensive line is also much smarter this time, especially in run blocking. Linemen move with a purpose during plays, making it easy to follow them through a hole and giving you confidence that they'll pick up the linebacker in your path. There are still times when they turn around to block a player who is no longer a threat or simply stand still while you get flattened by a safety, but, for the most part, the improved line play makes running much more enjoyable.
As good as the offensive linemen are on running downs, they can be lousy on passing plays. There are far too many times when your five linemen will remain immobile after the snap of the ball, letting defenders crash into your quarterback like bloodthirsty barbarians. This is especially noticeable while running play action. By the time you fake the ball and get ready to pass, a linebacker will be breathing down your neck, giving you little choice but to throw the ball away and live another day. There are also strange flubs that ruin the illusion that this is real football. Quarterbacks will sometimes throw a cover-your-eyes, Jamarcus Russell-caliber pass on what should be a simple dump off in the flat, and these unfathomable passes occur even when you're standing still without a defender in sight. The ball also does not conform to real-life physics. If a safety knocks the ball away from a receiver, the ball will sometimes bounce wildly between the players, resting on the backs of their necks or helmets, which looks completely ridiculous. None of these issues are problematic enough to destroy the fun, but they are annoying and can lead to bouts of anger if they crop up during an inopportune moment.
The improved physics and animation make this the best-looking game yet in the franchise. Nevertheless, for the first time in ages, Madden is behind the competition in this area. The recently released Backbreaker still has the most vicious, realistic-looking hits, but even though Madden NFL 11 is runner-up in this area, it's certainly no slouch. The revamped physics system gives you more subtle control in your offensive repertoire. All of your jukes are mapped to the right stick, and you can twist and contort your body to pull away from a grasping defender. The sprint button has also been disabled (though you can turn it back on in the options menu), which sounds like a strange thing to remove but makes carrying the ball feel more realistic. Your speed is automatically increased if you hit a hole and can pull away from a defender, but for the most part, you just have to focus on evading opponents. You also won't outrun your blockers nearly as often, and it is fun to use them as a shield until you can break free for a touchdown.
- Player Reviews: 59
- Game Universe:
- Madden NFL 2004 (PS, GC, GBA, PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Madden NFL 2000 (PC, GBC, N64, PS, MAC),
- Madden NFL 2001 (PS2, PS, GBC, N64, PC),
- Madden NFL 97 (PC, PS, GEN, SAT, GB, SNES),
- Madden NFL 98 (PC, PS, GEN, SNES, SAT),
- Madden NFL 99 (PC, N64, PS),
- Madden NFL '94 (GEN, SNES),
- Madden NFL 95 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES),
- Madden NFL 96 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES, PC, PS),
- Madden NFL 2002 (PS2, GC, PC, PS, N64, XBOX, GBC, GBA)
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
6 Players Online