Madden NFL 11 Takes The Crown Again!

EA Sports take the NFL title again with the football  title of the year.

With the return of the franchise footballing powerhouse GamesMediaPro takes a sweeping look at the pluses and minuses of this years outing for the Daddy of all NFL titles, Madden 11.

Let’s just start off by reminding all our readers that we are from the UK here at GamesMediaPro, a thing we proudly tout from time to time and if you were to cut us would we need bleed red and white blood in the colours of our beloved Cross of St George? So if we are critical of the word ‘football’ being used to describe this title then you will have to forgive us, as we tend to imagine that football is what occurs in that other EA Sports franchise classic, that being the awesome FIFA.

So let’s get down to reviewing the Daddy of all the ‘American Football’ titles shall we? And regardless of the fact that there are cries of better tackling mechanics and player control from other games in the genre such as NCAAF and Backbreaker, we are here to tell you folks that EA Sports still hold onto the crown of the best American Football title out there. And let’s be honest they do it by a country mile. To give you som  idea of the range of quality in Madden NFL 11 in comparison to other titles in its game type we can only offer this explanation and review and if you agree then great, but if not then we aren’t going to lose too much sleep over it that’s for damn sure.

So to the review with us. But first we’ll strap on some huge shoulders pads, a crotch-box protectorate and a pair of the tightest looking trousers that are dangerously close to revealing what I had for breakfast! (now there’s a mental image. Ed)  All kitted out and face paint stripes securely positioned under each eye so that I resemble one of the cast of Glee rather than Mean Machine we take to the playing field to bring you the review of Madden NFL 11.  Kick off!

First things first and let’s get the gripe out of the way. As you will all probably know by now ‘Franchise Mode,’ that ever green darling of the single player mode, has been omitted from the games format this time around after failing to make the ‘pre-season cut.’ Of the reason why this has happened we are unsure, and we are even more unsure that if content had to be cut, then why the decision to take out  Franchise Mode was made? It seems that a great deal of Madden purists are of the same opinion, but out it is, so there is no reason to dwell further on the subject. Let’s just concentrate on the stuff that is in instead.

Of the first new inclusion in the title is something that is probably causing the most controversy and causing the fans of the game to split down the middle. This is the all new ‘Gameflow’ option that EA has brought into the title to allow people who are unfamiliar, (or  hesitant even), to attempt to learn the complicated format behind the tactical approach to the game of American Football. Don’t get us wrong here, this goes for us here at GamesMediaPro and if truth be told probably the vast majority of gamers and sports fans everywhere outside of the United States. So if it was to make the game appeal to a far wider demographic then the inclusion of the Gameflow system to EA Sports premier title then it has been a resounding success. On the other hand though the US fan’s and, as we have described them earlier, ‘purists’ of the game are up in arms at its inclusion and this overall ‘dumbing down’ of the playbook. We here at GamesMediaPro don’t really see what all the fuss is about as the Gameflow system is an ‘option’ and is not in the least bit mandatory or enforced. Nit picking by the staunch set at its greatest we fear.

If anything we enjoyed the inclusion of the Gameflow system, and being that we are not too familiar with the intricacies of the huge content contained in the playbook that EA offer’s gamers, were grateful to the sports developers for the addition of this feature. It does help to speed up the game considerably, which is another plus in its favour and another reason why we fully expect that this year will see more sales of the title in countries outside the US.

 Another great inclusion to the title is the iPhone friendly opportunity to take advantage of the great ‘audibles’ in the game that alow you to survey and take stock of the opposing team in your match preparations as well as during the game to assist you in whatever decisions you choose to make regarding possible plays and tactical solutions. That the game is available on so many formats is a testament to the quality of the programming and dedication of the developers as Madden NFL 11 broadens its horizons, not just in the way that it is attracting new fans from around the globe with a more ‘user friendly’ attitude, but also by the way that EA have made the game available via so many platforms. Madden NFL 11 can be enjoyed by gamers on every major console and handheld from the iPhone to the Wii and back again vis the PS3 and, of course, the Xbox360.

The single player ‘campaign’ involves taking relative unknown recruits and putting them through their paces to become capable combatants before breaking free of their playing contracts, assaulting NFL headquarters with small arms fire and rescuing the girl from the clutches of the evil ‘Worm-Boss’ at the games finale. Not really, it’s a sports title, so what you have in reality is a capable rendition of the way that a team has to find their way through a season as they clamour for fame and reward on their way to be crowned Super Bowl and division Champions.

The gameplay in Madden 11 has been altered to perfection by EA Tiburon to incorporate a far better playing mechanic tan was previously available to gamers in past versions of the smash hit franchise. Gone are the once quirky graphics that had players pulling back for a moment and having to decide if their game was ‘glitching out’ on them, or if that choppy movement really was just part of the game. The use of the analogue sticks to allow players to correctly position the characters body when running and rushing from the line of scrimmage was in inspired move on the part of the talented development team, and we commend them for all that they have managed to improve upon in Madden 11 from its predecessors. It’s not that the game just looks a whole lot better than its older brothers, but it plays a great deal smother and far superior features. The sprint button has been replaced by more realistic play, as you must now learn to position your characters and how they move in full flight instead of just receiving the ball and taking off down the field at a rate of knots leaving floundering defensive players tumbling in your wake.

Madden 11 has also achieved what the other great titles in this franchise had previously failed to do, and that is to take its multiplayer to the next level. Speaking to an American friend regarding the game and its online capabilities he explained to me that to fully appreciate all that this game had to offer in the form of its numerous improvements, (both in the single player season and the online multiplayer modes),  one would best understand these enhancements if a few of the series past titles were purchased. So following his advice that is exactly what we did. Was he right? You bet your last dollar he was! The difference between even Madden NFL 10 to its newer entity Madden 11 can be viewed in yards just like the first down that the players so desperately seek. If previous versions of the title were having to resort to the filed goal to put any points on the board, then Madden NFL 11 was the quarter back run-in that no-one expected!

Everything has been tweaked and modified in Madden NFL 11 to give the game that polished appearance that has been sadly lacking in all of its competitors. Right from the fresh new dialogue from Chris Collinsworth and Gus Johnson has been improved. Even the crowds that pack the sprawling metropolitan stadiums have vastly varying chants and cries of derision or support as your team travels to away games around the continental United States.

A great inclusion for the more dedicated of American Football diehards is the inclusion of the Madden Ultimate Fan mode in which gamers can collect ‘virtual cards’ to increase the strength of your team. Sort of a Top Trumps for the football generation. You start out with a set of lower ranked players and play through your matches hoping to put enough points on the board to earn in-game ‘coins‘ that you can then spend at the EA Store buying better players, and o on and so forth. If you don’t want to wait, or do not have the patience or skill necessary to achieve  the ranks and earn the points then you can always use the option to use your ‘actual coins’ to be ‘cyber coins’ to make your purchases and upgrade your team to a status where they are all-powerful.

The online ‘key’ is en effect again in Madden NFL 11, and so it shall be in all future titles released by EA Games, so if you have purchased the title used from your high street store then to fully experience the game in its entirety make sure that you visit the EA Store and purchase a key so you can play online.

All in all Madden NFL 11 is a marked improvement on last years offering, even without the hallowed Franchise Mode. There are alternatives out there in the market and every year brings new pretenders to the throne, but only one game may wear the crown and truly be called ‘King.‘ And that title my friends, undoubtedly has to go EA Sports’ Madden NFL 11.

Graphics: Top notch! We don’t expect sporting titles to have the quality about them of Heavy Rain or Killzone 3, but EA Sports and EA Tiburon have done a remarkable job of turning Madden NFL 11 into a shining example of what a sporting title can look like if you just put the effort in.                         9

Gameplay: Even without the firm favourite of Franchise Mode in this years Madden 11 the game goes a long way on improving itself from past editions. The new features work very well, and Gameflow is a welcome addition to the format for newcomers and the less tactically aware players such as we. The new movement mechanics combine well with the highly polished look and excellent online play to make Madden NFL 11 an absolute must have the title for fans of EA’s sporting powerhouse.            9

RePlay Value: Fans will be playing the game for hours at a time until the next one is released in 2011, and even newcomers to the game will have many fulfilling hours taking their Madden Ultimate Fan team on to footballing glory for all to see.          9

Presentation: What EA does they do very well. And with Madden NFL 11 they have surpassed even their own high standards, as in the year that has seen stiff competition introduced to the market EA Tiburon have outdone themselves with the markedly superior Madden NFL 11. Many sports fans bemoan EA’s grip on the exclusive contract that they have agreed with the NFL. But when they produce a game of this obvious class and quality it is plain for all to see why the NFL will be staying true to EA for many a season to come.                   10

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