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Madden NFL 11
XBox 360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii

Reviewed on: XBox 360

EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Rated: "E" for Everyone

CHEATfactor Game Review
by Joe Sinicki

Audio/Visual: 6
Gameplay: 5
Lasting Appeal: 5
Overall: 6
CHEATfactor: 6

In the world of professional football, there are very few uncertainties, just ask any team that Brett Favre has ever played for. But just as surely as Detroit Lions fans will be hanging their head in shame every Sunday, a Madden game is sure to come out each August. Yes, it’s that time of year again. Is EA’s latest gridiron gorilla enough to warrant a purchase for diehard and casual fans alike? Yes...and no. While this year’s game is sure to please some (ie, casual players), others (series diehards) may not be so thrilled.

Undoubtedly the biggest change to this year’s game is the introduction of the gameflow mechanic. Subscribing to the marketing mantra of “simpler, quicker, deeper” that’s accompanied the game’s release, gameflow eliminates the need to wade through an entire playbook to find the play you’re looking for in exchange for having one called for you by a defensive or offensive coordinator. Think of it as Ask Madden 2.0. When using gameflow, games will go by much quicker and will have a very much more realistic pace to them. While you’ll always have the ability to choose your own play the old fashioned way, most of the time I opted for gameflow.

"...aimed at giving new players a fair shot at playing online..."


The system isn’t without its fair share of problems though. First, it’s obviously aimed at giving new players a fair shot at playing online; don’t know what play to call? Let the computer call it for you! Normally that would be a good thing but when you’re talking about a sports game, I’m not so sure. Also, the system loses pretty much all of its presentation value when playing against someone else. You see, when you play against a computer controlled opponent; the plays are conveyed to you as if they’re being spoken to you over your Quarterback’s in helmet earpiece, this obviously doesn’t happen playing against human opponents, in fact, you’re not told what your play is at all, you’ll just have to take a quick glance at your play art to get an idea (which of course isn’t the greatest idea). Pretty much anyone playing Madden on any system owns a headset, why not give gamers the option of hearing the plays through the actual headset itself? That way it’s cool and functional.

The biggest problem with the gameflow system by far is that I completely forget it’s there when looking at the incredible visuals. Being used to watching a short animation and then being led to the playbook, I’ll often find myself staring at the impressive animations as the play clock winds down. Last year’s game set a new standard for presentation values in the series, but Madden NFL 11 takes things even further. There are some pretty cool animations here, including sideline interactions between players and coaches and even pregame warm-ups and festivities. By far, the coolest addition is stadium specific noises, for instance the “Go Pack Go!” of Lambeau field or the familiar “J-E-T-S, JETS!” chant.

"..odd to go from stunning realistic graphics in one shot to embarrassingly bad in another."


You have to wonder though, why didn’t EA go the extra mile? During actual gameplay and not during animations, sidelined players still look like cardboard cutouts, oh - and try not think of villagers storming the castle with pitchforks and torches when certain players come off the team buses (I’m looking at you Franken-Manning). It’s just odd to go from stunning realistic graphics in one shot to embarrassingly bad in another.

The biggest change in the entire game though? The introduction of Gus Johnson as the game’s main play-by-play man. If I could get personal for a bit, I’ve been clamoring for a new announcing system for years. The addition of the CBS color commentator is more than I could ever ask for. Now, plays seem important as Johnson shows emotion when the game is exciting, and less enthusiasm when the it’s a blowout. Unfortunately, Chris Collinsworth still provides his useless dribble during games (he apparently also thinks the QBs are the key players for every game.)

Most of the core gameplay in this year’s game remains untouched from last year’s game; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as last year’s game was so impressive, it’s just a bit disappointing. There are no new modes and most of what’s here remains untouched from last year. The problem with this is that most of the menus systems can be rather tricky to navigate. I absolutely love playing the Madden Moment feature, which tasks you with either recreating, or rewriting NFL history from last year, but it takes a bit to even get to it thanks to a rather clunky interface.

They say that football is a game of inches, that can also be said about this year’s edition of Madden NFL. There are no huge new features, but there are several key tweaks and additions that make the game a better experience. Casual players are sure to enjoy the tweaks a bit more than those who buy it every year, but all together Madden NFL 2011 is an impressive sports gaming experience. 



CHEATS USED: Achievements List, Trophies List

There are no cheats or unlockables in Madden NFL 2011, besides the ones you’re asked to buy...yes buy from EA Sports. When reviewing last year’s Madden, I made a pledge, to never give a Madden game more than a 0 cheat factor until the nickel and diming stopped.

So there ya’ go...a zero. This is NOT how you treat gamers.



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