I love my Madden ...","articleSection":"Kansas City Chiefs News","author":{"@type":"Person","name":"Patrick Allen","url":"https://arrowheadaddict.com/author/patrickallen/"}}

Paddy’s 2011 Madden Review


I love my Madden and I spent the better part of last week searching all of NYC for an early copy. Mom and Pop stores will often break out the game early to keep pace with their competitors, big box stores like Game Stop. From what I understand, the major retailers cried foul last year and so EA didn’t allow distributors to ship out the game as early this year.

On Saturday afternoon, however, I got a hot lead and was able to snag a copy.

I returned to my apartment, locked the door and went to work.

Now I am no super gamer. I don’t go online and play 100’s of games. When I do go online I usually lose. I don’t know how to do a rocket catch. I don’t freak out a player’s wristband is on the wrong side. I am just a normal guy (relatively speaking) who loves his Chiefs, loves his football and has fun messing around in franchise mode.

I do, however, want Madden to be as realistic as possible and I want it to be fun. I find the trick with any Madden game is getting the sliders set just right so that the game is hard but not impossible. In the past I have tried All-Madden difficulty and after throwing my 50th interception in 4 games, I went back to All-Pro where I regularly slaughter the AI. Thus, until someone gets a decent set of sliders together I won’t be able to fully evaluate the game.

Still, my early reactions are after the jump. This will obviously have a Chiefs slant.

The Good:

*The game looks great this year. I really love the lighting. What is especially cool is how the shadows from the sun move across the field during your game. It is a really nice touch and adds to the realism on the field.

*The locomotion is much more natural. Last year, when a player broke off a long run his running seemed jerky and unnatural. This year the running animation is very smooth.

*Another cool thing they added was that some players run out of gas on long runs. In the past, if your guy was fast, he was fast and he was going to burn everyone. Now, certain players may have a quick burst but will slow down after say, 15 or 20 yards, enabling another player, who may not have a quick bust but a better speed rating to eventually catch up. It really adds that nice element that if certain guys break through (Charles) you aren’t going to catch them but if a guy is kind of a bum after his initial burst (LJ) he will likely get caught from behind. This also keeps things a little more real as it keeps some bigger linebackers from out running a defensive back on a pick.

*Getting rid of the turbo button was a good thing. At first I didn’t like it. It is kind of weird after years of playing Madden to suddenly lose your Turbo crutch. I still haven’t taught myself to stop hitting the button anyway though. The auto turbo AI is pretty darn good. The player almost always seems to accelerate at the right time and it makes running the ball more fun. It forces you to keep an eye on your blockers and wait for the play to develop. It makes running with slower, bigger backs easier as well. No longer do you have to have a guy with a 99 speed rating to effectively run the ball. You just need good blocking and patience, just like in real life. It is also extremely satisfying waiting for that hole to open up, then shooting through it for a big gain.

*The passing game is much improved. Both receiver and DB play is much more natural. The receivers get actual separation this year. There are also way less incidents of receivers and DB’s suddenly breaking the laws of physics and quickly gliding in front of a ball they would have no chance of making it to in real life. This year, more than any other, if your QB throws an off target pass, chances are the receiver isn’t going to get there.

*QB accuracy seems to be more important than ever. While the Chiefs receivers are better this year, Cassel’s accuracy, particularly his deep ball accuracy, is not good. He often misses wide open receivers, particularity in medium and deep situations.  Sometimes this can be a bit too extreme as on more than one occasion I had a pass intended for one receiver actually be so far off target that another receiver on another route actually caught the ball. Still, is seems to reflect the real life Cassel pretty well and it forces you to be smart and play to his abilities.

Cassel is most accurate on short and medium passes. The Chiefs playbook is full of a lot of play action and shorter slant passes. Just like what I am hearing the real Chiefs plan to do this year, the best way to move the ball with KC is with a strong running game setting up play action passes. I also have had the most success when dumping the ball off on screens to Charles and Jones, as well as short passes to McCluster and Urban.

*Franchise mode is exactly the same. It is still fun but there is nothing new here. The presentation is a little different. This could be good or bad depending on whether or not you liked franchise mode.

* Gus Johnson is great. His enthusiasm adds a lot even if at times it can sound a little corny. If ti is timed perfectly on a big run and can really add a lot, though sometimes the timing is off and so it seems silly. For instance, you might score on a quick TD pass and your player will have already dropped the ball and be celebrating by the time Johnson says “HE’S GOT IT! TOUCHDOWN. WOW!” Still, his Madden debut is pretty impressive.

*The in stadium chants are pretty cool. Play as the Packers, get a first down and get treated to a “Go, Pack, go!” There doesn’t appear to be anything cool for the Chiefs though. I was hoping for the games at Arrowhead to start with the closing moments of the National Anthem and a home of the “Chiefs,” but no dice.

*The music is aimed at simulating what you would hear in the stadium. Crazy Train, Thunder Struck and things like that. It is cool but I fear the sound track is too small and will eventually get old.

*Measuring for first downs happens way less and you don’t have to wait for them. This presentation works much better than last year when the took a measurement every 10 seconds.

* Bowe is a beast int his game. he catches everything. McCluster kind of sucks. His rating is the same as Urban’s but Urban is much better. He gets open a lot more. McCluster will likely be a force in this game once he shows his stuff on the field but as long as his rating is so low and his awareness sucks, he kind of sucks.

The Bad:

* Injuries are ridiculous. By the 3rd game in franchise mode Tamba, Berry, Moeaki, Walters and DJ were all injured. Berry had a freaking broken collarbone and Tamba was out for 4 weeks. I know injuries are part of real football but this is too much. Turn the injuries way down or turn them off.

* Playing defense is too hard. In particular, stopping the run. I played a game against the Browns. 12 minute quarters and a 20 second runoff. Jerome Harrison ran for over 400 yards! It was ridiculous. Some of the tackle breaking on runs is a little absurd. If you start pushing the hit stick forward like a mad man you may fumble but you also may break 12 tackles.

* On regular All-Pro difficulty against weaker defenses, running the ball is a little too easy. I am consistently breaking off huge runs with Charles. Better defenses do much better against the run but poor defenses do unrealistically bad. This should be able to be fixed with a minor slider adjustment. I do like that against stouter run defenses, if you stick with the run, it will eventually pay off for you. I have had games where my run was getting shut down and I paniced and started throwing too much and I just dug myself in deeper.

*Game Flow sucks.

Shut it off.

I understand the need for more realistic play calling but I don’t want to sit there for an hour picking plays for every situation. It was boring and then, when I played the game with them, I would get annoyed with the play calls.

Plus it isn’t as realistic as the Madden folks make it out to be. There contention is that in real life, the team game plans and chooses a certain amount of plays for each situation. You may remember Haley always had his play script shoved down the front of his pants last season. The difference between real life and game flow is when you hit a 3rd and 7 in Madden 11, ONE of the say, 9 plays you chose for that situation pops up and you have to run it. In real life, when the Chiefs hit 3rd and 7, Weis will look down at ALL 9 plays he chose for that situation and pick the one he thinks will work best. He won’t close his eyes and randomly point to one and run it no matter what.

So Madden’s game flow isn’t realistic. I might dig it if all my plays for each situation popped up. That way I would still have control but a lot of the play calling fat would be stripped away. If you have been getting killed on runs to the right side and that play comes up in Gameflow, you are screwed. In real life, the coordinators can throw out plays midgame that aren’t working. In Gameflow, you can’t.

The headset and coordinator audio is also really annoying.

This might be fun for kids or newcomers to football games but if you know the slightest bit about football, it is all just going to piss you off.

*Passes get batted down WAY too much. When I was playing the Browns, big fat Shawn Rodgers dropped back about 25 yards in to coverage and jumped about 4 feet in the air to bat down a pass to a wide open Jerhemy Urban. It was ridiculous.

If there is a guy, anyone, anywhere near your pass as it is going over their head, they are going to bat it down. It is really pissing me off.

* There seems to be a bit of lag on some snaps. If you bought NCAA 11, the same thing happens in Madden. You will snap the ball and the action will freeze for a brief second before continuing.

* Interceptions in Madden 10 happened way too often. In Madden 11, they are much more realistic in how often they  occur but there are still too many incidents of DB’s totally beating the coverage, having plenty of time to react and letting the ball bounce of their chests. I don’t want Flowers to get 8 interceptions a game but I don’t want to see the ball bounce off his face 8 times either.

EA has Eric Berry playing Free Safety. It is annoying. The Chiefs have him playing SS and if you try to move him to his proper position, his rating drops to an 81. This will be fixed soon of course.

Wrap Up:

Thee are just my initial thoughts. I don’t do a lot of online playing so I haven’t done the 3 on 3 or anything like that yet. Overall I think the game play is going to be much better in Madden 11 than it was in 10. It certainly looks better and the presentation took a step up. With the right set of sliders that match your game play I think this title could be very, very good.

Unfortunately, it really isn’t that different than Madden 10. EA really was banking on their Game Flow idea but as you saw above, I think it sucks. If you don’t like the new play calling system and you don’t plan on doing a lot of 3 on 3 online, this game isn’t that much different than Madden 10. There is nothing new in Franchise mode at all, although the new Super Bowl celebrations are cool.

I recommend Madden because I think that while it has flaws it is still a very fun game. If you enjoy football and you want to play as the Chiefs I think you will have a great time with this title. If you get your panties in a bunch over every little thing, like wrist band placement, you should probably just stick to playing that old 2K game or  Super Techmo Bowl.

I’ve said my piece. Anyone snag the game yet?