Well, it’s that time of year again. Pre-season football is on the airwaves, and the latest installment in EA Sport’s Madden franchise has been released.
There are two main changes in Madden this year. First, they’ve introduced a totally new locomotion engine and removed the sprint button. You now use the left and right analog sticks almost exclusively to guide your back, and he sprints when sprinting is called for. I have to say, I’m impressed with the new engine. It feels far more real, it looks far more real, and it’s rewarding to play.
The second change I was more wary about — GameFlow. This is Madden’s attempt at giving the game a more arcade feel, which it does. But it also mirrors more closely the way real football is called. You still have the option of using your full playbook, but with GameFlow, the computer picks a play for you based on the down and the situation you’re in. 2nd and short? Probably a shot at a big pass play. 3rd and short? You’re probably going to run, or toss a short pass.
You can customize your playbook so that you use your own pre-selected GameFlow plays. As I said, I was wary about this, but it actually is pretty fun. You can use the full playbook part of the time, and GameFlow part of the time, and the game takes on an added dimension.
The only other new feature of note is that Gus Johnson has been installed as the new color man for the game presentation. This is not the best thing in the world. He spends a great deal of time extolling the virtues of Old Spice “Swagger” in-between plays. In fact, there’s a new Old Spice “Swagger” player stat, that determines how likely a player is to celebrate a touchdown in the endzone. Stupid? Yes.
But I really do highly recommend this Madden installment, if only for the introduction of the new locomotion engine. It gives the game a great, new, smooth feel. The graphics have also, overall, been retooled, and look a good deal better than Madden 2010.
I’m giving this one a solid 9.0 out of 10.
After playing for a few days online, I am NOT impressed with the EA servers. Online play is clunky and laggy, and you especially notice it during kicks — I must have missed about 5 PATs due to the lag. Perhaps it’ll tone down a bit as people stop clogging the servers as they first get the game — perhaps not.