The EA Sportsâ€™ â€œMaddenâ€ franchise has always prided itself on being hyper-realistic, and â€œMadden NFL 11â€ carries on the tradition.
Even with my Miami Dolphins losing to the Minnesota Vikings 111-12, the game still seemed to flow realistically. The most obvious example was Brandon Marshall dropping literally every pass thrown his way.
The score may not seem very realistic, but I played on the hardest difficulty in â€œMadden 10â€ and assumed it would translate over. It doesnâ€™t. More on that soon.
Visually, almost everything about this game is spot on. The players, coaches, stadiums and in-game cut scenes make you feel like youâ€™re watching an actual NFL broadcast. It just looks that incredible.
However, â€œMadden 11â€ doesnâ€™t have much variety in cut-scenes. Every game I played started with exactly the same scene outside the stadium then cut out to watch the quarterbacks warming up. Itâ€™s a minor letdown. Thankfully, you can skip over the cut scenes.
One thing â€œMadden 11â€ canâ€™t reproduce is the in-game broadcasting. Donâ€™t get me wrong, they sound good. But thatâ€™s it. Everything else about them is awkward, overused or just plain annoying.
But you can turn them off, and I highly recommend it.
The soundtrack for the game isnâ€™t anything special either, but the stadium audio â€“â€“ crowd noise and cheers, stadium music and players on the field â€“â€“ definitely atone for the awful announcing.
Itâ€™s very easy to pick up and play this game. The controls just feel natural and simple. Yet, there are enough complex player controls to keep even the most seasoned â€œMaddenâ€ players entertained.
The most notable difference in this yearâ€™s â€œMaddenâ€ is the addition of â€œGame Flow.â€ Instead of the player choosing the plays, the game chooses what it thinks is the best play for the given situation and the player runs the plays. Players can still use the conventional play calling system, too.
Earlier I alluded to the artificial intelligence being more difficult on the harder settings than the last â€œMadden.â€ It is. But some of the time I felt like the game was picking plays that complimented my calls and forced me to work through bad dropped passes.
It takes real football knowledge of plays and formations to counter the A.I. and keep the game competitive, a very welcome challenge.
There are all the usual game play modes in â€œMadden 11â€: Franchise, Create-A-Star, Training, and online matches. There is an addition of Pro-Day style mini-games as well, but they are just meaningless distractions.
Video game reviewer Ian Hopkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.