Madden NFL 11 Xbox 360
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
With sports titles that are released on a yearly basis, it must be a real balancing act to get the formula right. There’s only a short amount of time for the developers to work on the game and if you’ve already got a winning formula it’s a question of do you stick with what you have or do you twist and gamble trying to make the whole thing a vastly different experience. In most cases of course the best solution, particularly when you have a game that’s pretty much guaranteed to sell millions every year, is to make small refinements and generally enhance the overall experience. It should come as no surprise then that Madden NFL 11 is only a small step forward for the series but nevertheless it’s one that fans of the series will appreciate.
So what’s new this year then? Well the control scheme has been reworked somewhat with more moves being controlled with the analogue sticks instead of having to use button presses. The AI has for the most part been sharpened and now plays better both defensively and offensively (although the number of fumbles can be a little irritating at times). There is a new system called GameFlow which allows you to hand off the selection of plays to your team’s coach. This really helps to speed up the flow of the game and it’s great to see that for the most part intelligent plays are picked by the AI. Even when some strange plays are picked, you can call an audible to compensate somewhat for it. Madden veterans might not want to hand over the play selection to the AI and they will be pleased to learn that GameFlow is optional and can be disabled if you want to do so. Should you choose to go with the GameFlow option however you’ll be pleased to learn that you can pre-configure game plans so that you have a say over the type of plays that will be picked during a game. You’ll now be aware of your coach’s comments too, as they are subtitled, and for rookies there are additional coaching tips displayed in text.
In regards to the game modes, not a lot has changed this year and most of the returning modes are in practically the same format that they have been for years. Exhibition, Franchise, Practice, Mini Games, Be an NFL Superstar, Virtual Trainer and Madden Moments are joined by Madden Moments Live, Online Team Play and Madden Ultimate Team. Madden Moments Live is similar to Madden Moments except that it concentrates on scenarios from this season. Every week you’ll have access to new scenarios from the previous week’s games with the idea being that you’ll try to replicate the events from the real games. Madden Moments Live isn’t initially available in the game and requires a download of 69MB but the download is free. The addition of an Online Team Play mode allowing 3-on-3 matches is certainly appreciated and should prove to be very popular over the course of the next year or so. Madden Ultimate Team charges you with building your own NFL team. When you’ve created your team you’re given over thirty player cards. You’ll play games against either human or AI opponents and earn coins in the process. Coins can be used to purchase additional cards in the Auction Block or in the Weekly Deal. You can have a maximum of one hundred cards in total and no more than fifty player cards at any one time. Whilst the mode is decent it’s not going to hold your attention as other modes such as Franchise are far more interesting.
It’s difficult to honestly say whether Madden NFL 11 represents a visual improvement from last year’s game. That’s certainly no complaint however as Madden NFL 10 looked absolutely fine. Whilst the quality of the visuals doesn’t differ too much, the animations have definitely received some work and now look better than ever before. Animations look significantly more natural and less scripted which can only be a good thing. The load times are decent even when you don’t have the game installed on the 360’s hard drive and for the most part the frame rate remains smooth, although there are noticeable dips from time to time.
It probably should come as no surprise that Madden NFL 11 is no better than any other game in the Madden NFL series in regards to its support for deaf gamers. The opening movie isn’t subtitled. Your Madden Moments objectives are shown in text so you’ll be aware of what needs to be done. The What’s New videos are not subtitled making them a waste of time for deaf gamers. None of the game commentary is subtitled so you won’t be aware of any of it. The coach’s comments are subtitled however which is certainly pleasing but all comments from your players are not subtitled. On the whole it’s as deaf gamer friendly as you’d expect from a sports title.
I don’t think anyone can claim that Madden NFL 11 is a giant step forward for the series. It is a refinement however and several elements of the game, such as GameFlow, have been streamlined and as a result the game is more fluid. Some may be disappointed that there hasn’t been any major changes to the Madden NFL formula but when you’ve already got a winning formula it would be foolish to change the game in any serious fashion. The improvements and additions that have been made are mostly a success but you have to wonder why so many of the traditional modes have been untouched for so long. Franchise mode in particular really needs to be revamped and not simply recycled for Madden NFL 12. In short then, Madden NFL 11 is another great Madden NFL game but it’s nothing more than a slight improvement on Madden NFL 10.