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The Madden NFL games are one of EA’s most popular and lucrative franchises. Reason being that in the United States, Football is huge, really huge, so fans are happy to throw their money at EA every time a new version arrives.

I’m a huge football fan (go Steelers), and getting Madden in South Africa has been a problem for the last couple of years, because EA didn’t see it fit to sell the game in a country where most people barely know how the game works.

Madden 11 wants you to play it, as EA have added a whole bunch of new features to make it easier to play and learn. Should you continue ignoring the franchise, or is it about time that you found out what all the fuss was about.

Find out in the full review of Madden 11.

[Note: I just want to point out that the review was done on the Playstation 3, but the EA official Madden site only had screenshots for the Xbox 360, hence the 360 buttons in the screenshots. We are not aware of any major graphics differences between the two]

Madden games are released every year, just like the rest of EA’s sports franchises. Most people know by now that it isn’t always a good idea to purchase a new version every single year, but rather wait until the next major leap in the series hits the consoles.

The last (and only) Madden that I have played on the HD consoles was Madden 08. I went out of my way to get my hands on a copy, and ended up being sorely disappointed with a game that just felt broken.

The AI was incredibly frustrating to play against due to the fact that anything short of a perfect pass was intercepted by your opponents and in the end, it caused me to just stop playing, for the sake of my poor controller, not to mention my sanity.

Madden 11 boasts a whole bunch of new features, designed to make the game that much better and also make it more approachable to people who aren’t very familiar with the franchise.

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The game now has a feature called Gameflow, which essentially has your AI coach call your plays for you, leaving you to only need to execute them as planned. If you were always confused by NFL playbooks and don’t have a clue what a shotgun formation is, or what it even means, then Madden 11 will make your life a whole lot easier. Hit the gameflow button for every play, and not only will the AI call your next play for you, but they will also nicely explain what you need to do.

If for instance, your coach decides to roll out in the shotgun formation, the coach will explain that your wide receivers are going to try and run deep, and that the shotgun formation is designed to give your quarterback some decent breathing room so that you can patiently wait for the opportunity to let the ball rip when your guys are in position.

It makes it simple, and for those of you who either want to learn about the game, or like me, lazily bask in the fact that I don’t have to call my own plays if I don’t feel like it. Once you have a good idea of how the game works, you can try and call some of your own plays, or heck just keep using gameflow forever.

The game also gives you the ability to fully customise the gameflow as well. You can go setup your gameflow playbook completely if you like. You can let the game know that on 1st down you prefer certain plays, or what to do on 2nd and short, or 2nd and long etc.

The basic idea, is that all of the depth of Madden is there, but if you don’t want it, and just want to focus on playing some football, you don’t need to care about any of it, and I really like that.

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To make it all a little simpler as well (apparently this feature is not new to 11) you also now have the ability to rewind a play like a mulligan. You can set the game up to allow a certain amount of rewinds per game, but a rewind is limited to only 1 per play. In other words, if you throw an interception by mistake, you can rewind the play and try it again, fail the second time though and you are stuck with it. I like how this is integrated, as it gives you the ability to learn from your mistake, but doesn’t hold your hand so much that you can just keep rewinding over and over.

Madden 11 has also seen major improvements in the AI department. Being on the offensive is now so much smoother, quicker and better and gone are the days that the defense picks off and intercepts every single ball that you throw.

All of this is complimented by a new feature called locomotion, which is just a fancy word to say that Madden 11 has now integrated proper momentum and weight into the players, making everything feel that much more realistic. This has also brought about major improvements to the animations, which means that watching a ton of guys slam into each other has never looked better.

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Madden NFL 11
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Nick De Bruyne

Video games writer, editor and critic since '08. Living and breathing video games, movies and cars since the 80s. Follow me on Twitter if you love tons of gaming talk, and @pennyworthrevs for fun stuff and links.

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