Hands-On With Madden NFL 11 - Madden NFL 11 - Xbox 360 - www.GameInformer.com
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Madden NFL 11

Hands-On With Madden NFL 11

After years of struggling to field a next-gen football game that met the expectations of its rabid fan base, EA Sports finally got the vaunted Madden franchise back on the right track last year by adding gang tackling, introducing the oft-requested online franchise mode, and realigning the presentation to bring it more in-synch with television broadcasts. For the encore, developer EA Tiburon isn’t just building on the success from last year – it’s reinventing the most integral part of the gameplay experience.

Unhappy with how players accelerated, changed directions, and carried momentum in past Madden titles, the dev team scrapped its old locomotion engine in favor of a more responsive system. Speed is no longer the most important rating for skill players. The new approach places a much higher emphasis on agility and acceleration as distinguishing factors that separate the stud backs like the Vikings’ Adrian Peterson from mediocre skill position players, like the Bears’ Adrian Peterson.

Armed with a revamped right analog stick juke system that takes advantage of the new technology, players now have an entire assortment of moves resting under their thumb. If you wiggle the stick back and forth, the running back will stutter step. Pressing the controller far to the left or right prompts the familiar juke, but swinging the analog stick around like throwing an uppercut in Fight Night triggers a dangerous spin move in the direction you rotate the stick. Flicking the stick down activates a high step for avoiding diving tacklers, and holding it forward makes the runner assume the trucking position, which you can then steer by slightly guiding the right analog stick to the left or right. This is an important technique to employ with fumble-prone players, as you can guide the runner strategically to keep the hand holding the ball from taking the brunt of the tackle.

Getting used to the new system takes time, since you must trigger moves much earlier than you did in last year’s game to effectively use them. But after a few quarters I was stringing together killer juke combos that left defenders gasping for air. Tiburon is so confident in how this system improves the running game that it eliminated the sprint button altogether. It sounds like a dangerous move that could provoke the anger of hardcore fans, but EA Canada did the same thing with the NHL series, and it gave the game a more realistic feel.

Running the ball isn’t the only aspect of the game the new locomotion engine improves. Receivers finally try to keep their feet inbounds when making a catch on the sidelines. Backs and receivers immediately square their shoulders and turn upfield when catching comeback passes or screens, which finally eliminates their frustrating tendency to run backwards in past Maddens.

Defenses also benefit from the new locomotion system. Cornerbacks with amazing closing speed can bait quarterbacks into throwing their way by playing loose coverage, and star defensive linemen with impressive acceleration ratings explode toward the quarterback after shedding blocks.

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  • I have only played MADDEN 2005, so I can't really identify with the mistakes that people have been recording. But I am glad it is improving. It's awesome how Drew Brees is on the cover, the Saints were great champs.

  • I'm happy to see the new locomotion system. It's probably a small change, but every detail counts.
  • I personally think that the gameplay will be so much more realistic and better now.  I did not like how it used to be.

  • Sounds like some serious, rather than merely cosmetic, changes. Sign me up.

    Now if EA could figure out how to get a decent announcing team...

  • I haven't played Madden since Madden 95. I like EA but I don't care for EA Sports.

  • glad they put brees on the front, i hate the saints....viva la madden curse!!!

  • Finally, no more interceptions from a cornerback in a horrible poisition to make one...or a linebacker jump 12 feet to catch a pass over the middle...whoo hoo!...some upgrades to superstar mode and this game will be perfect

  • These changes sound cool, but I really want the players to actually look the way they should.

  • Presnap adjustment desperately needed a fixing, so this change is much appreciated. The whole system had become too complicated, and playing Madden had become little more than a chore in gratuitous levels of button pressing with an annual gimmick thrown in for fits n' giggles. The new running mechanics also sound like a great move, though hopefully they will not become *too* easy to exploit once a player hones their timing reflexes.

    Unfortunately, I'm far less enthusiastic about the "GameFlow" feature. It sounds great for newbies and people who are just looking for fast moving games with their friends, but a true tactician will (and ought to) balk at the seemingly overzealous level of dumbing down. How much do you want to bet that the O Coordinator's "explanation" of his expertly chosen play is going to be limited to no more than a dozen possible statements that will have you tearing your hair out in annoyance after the first handful of games? When I first started reading the description, I thought the feature was going to be like those two sided laminated play cards that coaches typically rely on, and that you would get to fill your card or whatever up with a limited selection of plays prior to every game. They could have included premades for the less enthusiastic playcaller, but think of the possibilities for customization using such a model. By contrast, getting spoon-fed a single play each and every time is really *not* a good feature if you tend to, well, know anything about football. I'm pretty confident I'll be turning it off when playing on my own.

    Who knows...on the whole, it looks really good, which is more than I could say about any Madden iteration since about '05. I'll probably rent, and if I like it, I'll buy for the first time in 7 years.

  • (sigh) Do not want to get my hopes up yet again.

  • I dont want to sound crazy but...

    Where's the info on OWNER/FRANCHISE MODE? (yes, people still play this game for those modes - its not all about online)

    All of these 'changes' are like the same 'changes' they do year in and year out which really in the end become hit or miss.

    Where are all of the things they have TAKEN OUT of past Maddens????

    I mean when Madden 05,06,07 on the OLD Xbox has more features than Madden 10 its crazy.

    So whats the deal? Is Madden 11 going to have AT LEAST the same Owner Mode / Franchise Mode DEPTH that Madden 2005 had?

    Or am I skipping out on this years title as well?

  • I have a great feeling about this years Madden. A deserving team won the Super Bowl, Bret Favre did great, and Drew Brees got payback. He is also on the cover. I don't really believe in this "Madden Curse" it seems like one of those myths that happened on or twice. They've added a better locomotion system which means better everything almost.

    WHO DAT!

  • Staff

    @ IronsideGrunt

    I think the amount of people who wanted to adjust the rates of hotdog prices was minimal, and the team decided to focus on more core issues. That being said, I really enjoyed last year's franchise mode. The presentation took a page out of 2K5 with the weekly recap, the custom draft classes were a nice touch, and it was fun trying to find sleepers in the late rounds.

  • First of all they didn't mention the defense that's a little scary.I hope it doesn't suck.And by the way Michael Oher should have been on the cover just saying.

  • @Matt

    Brother I wish it was that easy as just saying that hot dog prices were the only thing left out.

    Consider that off the top of my head I can think of the radio show, the newspaper, a pretty decent training/mini camp BEFORE the season started, being able to change all kinds of stats, positions, numbers for your players without bugs that would wreck their age among other things...

    A decent player progression system that maybe not perfect, but right out of the gate was more fun than what we see today with patches that only seem to make it worse (RBs getting stats as if everyone was Adrian Peterson).

    I am sorry but when you take said things out of the game, instead of bringing them in ASAP, and improving upon the concepts it doesnt smell right. Especially when you make a second game with many of the things that people were asking for depth wise (Head Coach series) it makes consumers wonder if its a profit play keeping Franchise mode down for so many years.

    Oh sure, some of the things they added were nice in 10. But They still have a LONG way to go just to get back to Madden 2005 standards (lets not even say 06,07) and so far as usual...its a few months away from release and no news whatsoever for Owner/Franchise mode fans which leads me to believe its getting back burner treatment...again.

  • @ Kevin Maskornick

    I agree when you talked about EA dumbing down the playcalling system. But if you think about it, the GameFlow feature sounds pretty good, even for hardcore fans like myself.  I customize my playbook every time.  This new feature will suggest the plays I want in certain situations.  That cuts so much time from flipping through my playbook.  Most Madden fans know exactly which plays will work to their advantage.  And now I'll be able to call those plays a lot easier.  Plus, if you want more plays to choose from, go in and rate the ones you really like.  I'm sure this new mechanic will allow us to reject any play the A.I. may suggest.  Folks are too quick to judge.

  • Well I like this game so far, it does sound better than before.

  • @IronsideGrunt

    Dude, nobody cared about most of those features found in  Owner/Franchise mode of 2005.  That's why EA changed it up!

    Sorry that souded harsh....What I meant to say was: NOBODY CARES ABOUT ADJUSTING HOTDOG PRICES!!!!

  • Rob Ebert, you just may be surprised this year.

  • @ Antman1120

    Yeah they changed it up so much (since 'no one cares') that they spent money to make a whole separate game called Head Coach but stiffed those that actually want to play football by keeping that 'little' part in Madden only. So if you want to actually manage your team in depth you have to buy a separate game. Please...

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