Madden NFL 11 Impressions

Electronic Arts and Joe Montana break down the new play calling system in Madden NFL 11.

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There's no reason for Madden NFL Football to try to alter its own rules given that the sport it's based on is virtually flawless. However, every iteration of this yearly franchise gets one step closer to mimicking what you see on the field every Sunday. In Madden NFL 11, play calling has seen the biggest overhaul, and four-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Joe Montana (the best ever at his position) stepped on Electronic Art's conference stage to introduce the world to developer Tiburon's latest attempt to make its virtual simulation mirror reality.

Montana recounted his glory days with the San Francisco 49ers, when his innovative coach, Bill Walsh, would spend the entire week leading up to a game crafting the perfect game plan to counter their opponent's strengths and weaknesses. Although you won't have to spend nearly as much time getting your virtual team prepared in Madden 11, you'll receive the benefit of this attention. In real life, plays are broken down in massive playbooks based on the down, distance, how much time is left on the clock, where you are on the field, and many other factors. Stripping away worthless plays--such as a deep pass when you're on the 10-yard line--streamlines the play calling options so only the most effective possible plans are covered.

Madden 11 uses the same philosophy in its play calling, cutting away the fat so you're left with the meaty center of the playbook. There is also communication between the quarterback and coach. In the demonstration shown at the press conference, Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Jim Caldwell shouted out advice to his all-pro quarterback Peyton Manning. Now, this may not have been the most realistic example, given Manning's uncanny ability to read the defense coupled with his coach's lack of any sort of player interaction midgame, but it did show off how helpful this can be for gamers. Coach Caldwell can warn Manning beforehand of things like a linebacker who may end up blitzing or a cornerback in man coverage, which gives the player a good idea of what to expect from the defense once the ball is snapped.

Electronic Arts also mentioned the three-on-three cooperative mode that we covered previously. Other than that, it's unclear what else EA will do to change the way you play virtual football, so keep your eyes on GameSpot for all the updates until it finally hits store shelves this August.

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