Madden NFL 11 is the best game in the franchise to date, but that’s what I expect after all this time and with a core team that has been intact for the last few versions. The real question lots of gamers want to know is how much better was it than last year? The answer to that is actually all in the way you look at.
There have been reviews on Madden NFL 11 that have been all over the place, some sites will tell you that its absolutely awesome and other sites will tell you that its just more of the same old thing, but I am going to tell you that honestly its somewhere in the middle. However, for a franchise that is as big as Madden is, being in the middle is probably the best place that it could be right now. I am going to hit this review from a different angle, stay with me though.
The folks at EA Sports say that they want Madden to be the most “realistic” football simulation on the planet and to do that requires making some decisions that may or may not be really popular with your core fan base. I think starting with Madden 10, the team at EA sports has really been working to pretty much eliminate as many of the arcade aspects as possible and I think that is a GREAT thing. Since EA owns every single major football license anyway, I want the experience I get from them to be as authentic as possible. So on to the review.
The thing that I am most impressed by this year is locomotion and its affect on improving multiple aspects of the gameplay. In the running game, the concept of locomotion and the physics of changing direction combine to create one of the most true to life running games ever seen in a football simulation. At first I wasn’t sure, but I think taking the speed burst button out of Madden was the best thing EA ever did for the run game, even more than juke moves and the truck stick. When you don’t have to worry about either hitting a speed burst button or having someone hit one on you, you are free to focus on the pureness of the run itself. Now lots of people will say that they don’t like it and that running is harder, but the truth is that running the ball itself didn’t really get harder; the fact that you don’t have speed burst makes the skill of your offensive line more important. I also love what locomotion has done for the return game, again it allows you to focus on following the blocks as they set up and making that last move to break away for the TD.
It seems that every year Madden tries something different with the passing game and this year is no different, not so much in how it plays as much as how it works. This is the first time in Madden history that I can remember where they have truly duplicated the effect of putting “touch” on the ball. So many times in previous versions of Madden you would try to lead the receiver or throw it over his off shoulder and it just wouldn’t work, but this year it does and when combined with some awesome new receiver animations it makes for pure art in motion. Whether it was Curt Schillens leaping up to catch the ball at the highest point, Kevin Curtis keeping his feet in bounds while making an awesome catch, or Andre Johnson pulling off a ridiculous one handed catch, it all felt “good”. The receivers are really much more ball aware this year as they will lean forward to make a catch that is a little ahead of them or dive to make a catch that in years past would have just sailed by them. Don’t get me wrong, they still let catchable balls go past them, but not nearly as often.
Madden Ultimate Team comes back for its sophomore campaign and I was glad to see that they took a lot of the feedback from the Madden Community on how to make it better. When you first start, it recognizes that you are a returning player and gives coins and an improved set of cards instead of the base set that new players get. You have the option of keeping the name you had last season, or changing it up, but you will get a nice little note saying when you first established your ultimate team, shout out my MD Ballas est. Madden 2010. Madden Ultimate Team took players by storm last year and kept lots of Madden players, myself included, occupied for hours. This year some changes have been made to normalize gameplay and keep games more even. First, this time around there are certain minimums and maximums you are allowed to sell cards for, based on the cards availability at the time and worth at the time I assume, so no more lowballing cards, this year a rare Chris Johnson card will cost you some serious mullah, based on what I have seen with the lower cards, I would think it would start at a minimum of 75K to 100K in coins and that will be the minimum that the game will allow the owner to sell it for. Now before you go getting upset, you will also be happy to know that EA has increased the amount of coins you get per game so paying these higher prices shouldn’t be so tough. You also have the option of completing collections that if you manage to finish, you will be rewarded with hundreds of thousands of coins and rare cards that you can’t get any other way, the downside is that once you send a card to a collection its gone and to complete any of them you will have to part with very good cards. Do I think that anyone will complete all of them, no; but it might be worth it to complete your favorite teams’ collection.
I only have a few issues with Ultimate Team at this point. Foremost, the lack of really good cards, though I can see them holding down the quality of cards to maintain an even playing field. If you pay coins for a gold, platinum or the new ultimate pack then you should at least get a few of them in the pack. I actually got enough coins from getting bonuses from playing UT last year to get a Platinum pack and didn’t get a single platinum card or gold card for that matter. I think if they weren’t going to make those cards available and after buying 4 or 5 packs, I am pretty sure they aren’t released then they should have just grayed out everything above the gold pack until they were ready to release them. As it stands I feel like EA Sports owes me a few platinum and ultimate cards.