Madden 11 Hits and Misses

Posted August 24th, 2010 at 11:08 am

With Madden 11 out for two weeks now and having let some of my initial feelings settle with additional play-time I thought it would be interesting to isolate some of the accomplishments in the game along with some areas that it whiffed on. I’ve listed out what I perceive to be the top five hits and top five misses for Madden 11. In addition to this make sure to check out my full impressions and online impressions which present more comprehensive reports on the game. Continue on to check out the top hits and misses and leave your thoughts in the comments!

Fun Factor
For me this is always a big thing and tends to get overlooked when a game gets analyzed, but due to the the general gameplay enhancements and CPU AI improvements Madden 11 can be extremely fun and very satisfying.

Online Team Play
Though there are some difficulties in terms of setting up games and there is no real incentive to continue playing after the initial “new” feel wears off the mode has a ton of potential. It brings in a totally different focus with communication, strategy, and teamwork being critical to success.

The enhancements to locomotion, though not as obvious as in NCAA, really took Madden to another level on the field. I especially like the “anything can happen” wide-open nature that comes along with it. For too long Madden has at times felt as though it was almost scripted and thankfully that isn’t the case with Madden 11. I also have ended up really liking the removal of a speed burst button which makes the running game more responsive and a blast when in the open field.

GameFlow and GamePlan
Though not perfect (the mobile versions of Madden have superior GameFlow) it did accomplish what it set out to do and that is to make Madden more accessible and the games quicker to play through. I don’t trust it completely and have to audible frequently but I appreciate that it allows for the focus to be on the gameplay instead of rummaging through the playbooks. Setting up a GamePlan can be tedious but it is a nice way to collect favorite plays in one place. Would like to see custom playbooks and/or GamePlan provide the ability to pull plays from all teams and not just one.

Atmosphere and Audio
For the first year with a new broadcaster EA did a remarkable job with Gus Johnson. Obviously there is a lot of work to be done to mesh him with Cris Collinsworth and better blend Gus’ audio dependent on situations with player names and the action being called fitting properly with his voice level and enthusiasm. Bringing in the team specific crowd chants and fight songs also made a big difference. The more of these touches EA can add in the better as they really connect fans with the emotions had from watching real NFL games. Going forward though a home-field advantage and different stadium noise levels should be considered.

The tackling is certainly a weakness this year, with support from teammates being largely ineffective. The number of broken tackles are alarming and not just from players that you’d expect would be tough to take down. This is one of the big reasons why the games trend towards offense having the advantage.

Online Design Decisions
Allowing for people to quit in the first half of games with no repercussions (other than DNF%) and those getting quit on not getting a win or even the chance to play out vs the CPU was a baffling decision. Madden Ultimate Team being in an even worse position with people able to quit at any point, even seconds remaining, and it is like the game never even took place for both parties. Both have since been resolved. EA removed the ability to play friends or challenge others in lobby rooms to ranked games. The kick meter faces some big lag issues which is bad enough that even extra points are occasionally missed. GameFlow sometimes helps to speed games up, other times it just means more waiting around if an opponent chooses to bypass it. There is no central profile to check up on your own record, results, and stats.

The “Swagger” rating (sponsored by Old Spice) was supposed to lead to auto-celebrations depending on the player’s rating. However the actual celebrations have been disappointing, outside of the Lambeau Leap. When I saw Chad Johnson catch and run for an 80 yard TD and stop, just stand there, and not celebrate in any way I questioned the effectiveness of “Swagger”. The emotion after scoring TDs seems to be largely missing which is disappointing. The cut scene celebrations often involve players who have no business being there and the “jumping around and into each other” thing got old the first day.

This year the downloadable content strategy in Madden 11 has taken a turn to the obnoxious and offensive. “Coins” can be used to purchase online play scouting reports, cheats/boosts in franchise mode and Online Team Play, support Madden Ultimate Team mode, and will be used to purchase upcoming Madden Moments Live weekly offerings. Providing a competitive advantage online to those who pay for it is the worst part of all this.

Isolated Issues That Stand Out
There are a number of problems that on their own can really damage the overall experience. The change to the “Strategy Pad” is one many have disliked. But issues with Play-Action (pretty much calling for a sack), kick return blocking (non-existent), CPU kickers in weather (they miss most field goals and even some extra points), and QB Storylines (one tends to play for most matchups) are impossible to ignore.


    riiight fun? When someone breaks 5 tackles online, it isn’t fun nor when the PC steps it up for no reason during a game to make you fumble on a 90 yard TD run.. Won a game today 71-70 (came back by almost 42 points because I stopped caring when it was 42-9, against a friend so w/e) and he used Jones-Drew who broke every first tackle. Never had this high of games (at least opponent) in Madden let alone the better 2K series.

  • QuickCroom

    First off LUCK! But I try to run a pretty good offensive gameplan, TE streaks are really my friends they can be zonebusters! But on defense if you strip the ENTIRE game, you may get a couple fumbles. Just me though have fun wit it

  • QuickCroom

    I I shouldn’t have to tweak sliders to make anything easier! Sliders are there to make the game increasingly harder. I understand what you mean but thats just not my cup of tea. P.S. GO BUCS

  • Dades69666

    Why have no one mentionrd the online franchise is CRAP…no improvements at all…we want salary cap, we want a variety of draft classes..hell..why cant we have ncaa draft classes on the online franchises…i mean i know a lot more people play online franchises, but the OTP is improved not FRANCHISES!!!!…And no one even discusses it…WOW!!!!

  • Mbalmer

    To me, Madden is a bunch of decent ideas that have been executed very poorly. It seems that they go half-way with everything they do. Pro-tak, but we don’t have consecutive hits; Storylines, but one runs 95% of the time; Swagger rating, celebrations look boring and repetitive; Broadcast camera angle, but you can’t see the bottom wide out; Strategy Pad, but now we are going to spend time to implement the old (better) way of adjustments; Replays, but the PS3 version cuts them way short; etc. etc.
    These guys might have some vision, but the lack of carring out the vision is just so poor. Once again I wish I wouldn’t have spent the money.

  • LaMareaRoja77

    This is a very good summary of Madden 11. I do enjoy the game a lot. It has strong qualities but also annoying little things that frustrate me throw out the game (kick-retuns). Also the tackling can be awful.I want to know why they would let go of this,when Madden 10 the tackling was fine. But overall the game is great for me. Nothing is perfect and everyone will always have someone negative input no matter what it is.Thanks Pasta for your great reviews and updates.Keep up the great work.

  • Dave

    Nice, fair assessment. I admire that right up front you say something that I have been trying to get across. Overall, this Madden is a GREAT game. I’m never really sure what people are complaining about when they don’t see huge advancements from year to year. Last year was just about perfect, IMO, and from there the change are incremental. Trying too hard to force change every year is why we get stuck with Vision Cone or Fight for the Fumble.

    But there are problems. In addition to your list, I’d like to add a clock glitch. At the end of halves the play clock and game clock don’t mesh. So I’ll have 35 secs on the play clock and 40 secs before the 2 min warning. So that means two plays, right? But no, one I pick my play the game clock winds down in a run off but the play clock doesn’t. So I will have 15 secs on the play clock but only 5 secs to wait before we hit the 2 minute. Easy fix, tho, and I’m sure it will be in the first patch.

    The online stuff liked ranked games and quitting HAS to be fixed, and I still don’t understand why with my PS2 I could get score updates on my friends games in progress but I can’t even tell who’s in a game with PS3 technology and much higher speed connections. But overall it’s a beautiful game and Gus Johnson has been GREAT.

  • Eaglesoulja

    I agree with most of whats said, but the non blocking on kick off returns is not an issue for me. I can almost score on every kick off. I won one game with 148 yds of total offense and the ending score was 48-35. I like being able to score every kickoff, but its a little unrealistic.

  • Yoyo

    This game is a TURD


    Pasta I disagree with your assessment on the kick return blocking. I have 3 returns for touch downs this year so far. They all came on kicks that didn’t reach the end zone. Too often last year guys were have multiple kick returns in excess of 100 yards in one game. In real real football if the ball if the ball is kicked to the back of the end zone you take a knee. Thats way it is now on madden 11.

    I have grown to like the strategy pad and won’t be switching back if EA ever gives us the option. As for not be able to play friends in ranked games, I think that was a good idea in my oppinion. I think playing friends all the time scuse the ranking. Too much cherry picking. Now you want rank you have play people you dont know. Best Madden ever. Go Bucs.


    Pasta, I have to disagree with your assessment on kick return blocking. I think it is more realistic this year than ever. I have 3 returns for touch downs this year so far. All have come on kicks that didn’t reach the end zone. In real football if the ball is kicked to the back of the end zone the returner almost always takes a knee. This year in Madden if you don’t take that approach you most likely won’t be getting to the 20. Thats real football. Last year there were too many games where guys were having multiple returns in excess of 100 yards.

    I have now grown fond of the strategy pad and won’t be switching back if EA ever gives us the option. As for online play I think the fact you cant play friends is a good idea. I thinks guys playing friends all the time inflates the rankings. Too much cherry picking. Now if you want rank you have to play people you don’t know. Best Madden ever. Go Bucs.

  • Anonymous

    To me the most obvious “miss” is the developers not even touching either of the Franchise modes and thus saying “screw you” to all the hardcore fans that buy the game year after year, in large part due to the ability to play a franchise.

  • Miafins04

    All of you people need to quit complaining about Madden. If u dont like the game then dont buy the damn game. Its a video game, not human cloning for GOD sake. Shut up and play or just play something else. Stupid a$$ people always complaining like little bitches…..

    • leoh

      you shut your little @ss up and play me so that I can bust that @ss. YOU’LL START complaining when I’m done with you.

  • Shaggy

    Why have they taken subs out? I have 2 great running backs, and one kid with 99 speed, I’d like to sit outside of the game, and be able to put that back in on certain packages. Game Day 98, had that option, why can’t madden 11? Instead I’m limited to 40 seconds to sub him in, on 3 different packages, and call a play. I never really had an issue with this till now. It’s a part of the NFL, bring it back.