First Shot: Madden 11
In a summer where Madden saw its first legitimate challenger in what feels like half a decade, it was my expectation that EA Sports would go all out when it came to this year’s football sim.
So far, Madden 11 has been incredibly hit or miss. On the plus side, I really must give credit for the improved run game. In Madden’s very recent past, running felt very much like a chore; rushes would generally go nowhere as blockers would routinely miss their assignments, generating tackles for loss as if it was their jobs. Madden 11 doesn’t seem to have this issue, blockers get their man, and wide receivers make good blocking decisions downfield. Beyond the running game, this helps out immensely on screen passes (something that felt downright broken in 09). Not since Madden 07 have I enjoyed running the ball this much.
The passing game is similarly stellar. Using the left control stick to influence trajectory and the face buttons to adjust power, you can drop the ball neatly in over your receiver’s shoulder, out away from coverage, or the classic frozen rope over the middle.
Defense feels like it could benefit from more finessing. Opposed to previous Maddens, 11 has all your defensive moves mapped to the right stick. Whether you are a nose tackle or DB, the stick performs the same moves:
Down: Power back opponent/jam receiver
Left/Right: Shed block
While it works well enough to be effective, something feels very strange about the system. It feels like when activating those moves, my defender will suddenly start moving in slow motion, sometimes completely stopping mid action as the play develops around them. Despite that, my player will suddenly make the tackle, which leads me to believe that the real culprit here is…
Animation issues. Right off the bat, I want to say that this game is gorgeous, and all the animations are very fluid and realistic… when they trigger. With only about 5 hours of playtime logged, I’ve already seen a multitude of animations that never happened. Fair catch signals so far are the worst offender, as my deep man will just stand there, doing nothing in particular while I attempt to signal a fair catch. The refs accept that I performed the action, however, so no harm no foul, but it is kind of shocking to see that from a game with such high production values.
Gameflow, the new audible system, and line adjustment system will all be discussed in the full review.