Last week at the EA Sports Spring Kickoff event we had a chance to sit down and spend some time with this seasons Madden NFL. It’s quite hard in sports gaming to improve and change a game each year, football is still football, unless they begin playing on different sized fields or with a new rule book, it’s always interesting to see what EA Sport can do to keep our interest in the series. While last year there was a big focus on creating an authentic game that replicates what you see on any given Sunday. This year is more about improving those mechanics and how the game is controlled and played by gamers.
The first change gamers will see is the new play calling system called “Game Flow”. Game Flow is a system that takes the playbook out of your hands and gets you right to the action on the field as quick as possible. If you use Game Flow what will happen is your offensive and defensive coordinators will be calling the plays, which for the most part is what happens during a real game. If you have a headset on the coordinators will actually tell you what plays are being called, and even explain the reasoning of the call. If you don’t wear a headset there is an on-screen text pop-up with the information. While this is a great system for the rookies out there, and will cut gameplay times in half. Hardcore fans will feel letdown and will end up going back to the normal play calling. The addition of the coordinator communication is neat, but was a bit shallow. It would be nice to hear them offer suggestions as you flip through the playbook, and even better make recommendations on if you should challenge a call. I’m sure the less experience will enjoy it.
Also new this year in the play calling department is the addition of setting up your own playbook. Similar to setting your favorite audibles in the past, you can now set certain plays for different situations. If you like running a special pass play on 3rd and long, no longer will you need to flip through all the plays to get to it. Again this feature really adds to the authenticity of Madden 11.
The next big change, is the removal of the sprint button. Don’t worry you can still turn it back on. But now with the improved Locomotion system, each player has their correct speed and acceleration ratings. As you move the left stick further up the player will run faster. This leads not only to a much more realistic game, but also give players much more control. The new speed system coupled with locomotion and the right stick controls felt really good, and while yes I was still holding the trigger for no reason, after awhile I really enjoyed being able to break tackles and make great cuts for extra yardage.
Also this year some much T.L.C. was paid to blocking. For once you will be able to play without yelling at your screen that your not getting blocking down field. AI blockers will pick-up double teams and make much better choices when your running the ball. For once you’ll be able to have a great running game experience.
Overall Madden 11 has some very good fundamental changes. While Game Flow might not be everyone’s cup of tea, the action on the field has improved greatly, and you’ll feel much more in control of your players. The locomotion system which last year was great for the big running backs, has been greatly improved. While the sprint button change does take a little time to get use to, once you get the hang of the two thumb-stick controls you will be in heaven. And lastly for those who enjoyed Madden Ultimate Team and the AFL DLC last season, you’ll be happy to know both of those are right on the disc for all those who purchase Madden 11 later this year.
Keep your eyes out for more Madden 11 info right here at VGrevoluion, you can view our interview with Ian Cummings one of the games developers, HERE.