Kicks the performance enhancers.
There is always an air of excitement in late July. The new Madden is right around the corner, and many a little boy and girl across the land stare blankly at the ceiling during sleepless nights, wringing their hands in anticipation of the new features tucked under the Madden tree. Their Madden stockings have been carefully hung up with the hopes they will be overflowing with new animations and smarter A.I.. The Madden lists have been written and addressed to “Maddenland”, where jolly ol’ Saint Madden reads them and checks them twice. Most of the children will wait until August 10th to tear off the bows and wrappings and indulge all of their Madden fantasies. I, however, got a sneak peek.
[image1]My eyes became so immediately transfixed on the television displaying the EA Sports logo in the PS3 demo that I hardly noticed anything else, only that my fingers had wrapped themselves around the familiar shape of the DualShock controller. Thumbs squarely on the sticks, I navigate the menu to play a quick game between last year's Super Bowl contenders. Let's see what you got, Madden NFL 11...
...No Turbo?! Wait, let me check again… nope. No turbo. Whoa... Madden is taking a queue from last year's highly acclaimed soccer game, FIFA 10 (aka, the Madden of the rest of the world). The idea is that with all the trouble put into ranking every attribute of every NFL player, it is kind of ridiculous that a turbo button can neutralize all of that. So, now, if a cornerback with 85 speed lets a wide receiver with 95 speed get past him, there is no miracle turbo to allow the cornerback to correct his mistake.
The same idea applies to turning the corner on a run play. If a linebacker has a bead on the ball-carrier, there is no turbo-ing past him for a first down. It may take a little time to get used to - I still pressed the turbo button every time I saw an opening, but I believe that a non-turbo sports game brings a much more rewarding experience to the table. The emphasis for a ball-carrier will be on running the play, following blockers, and picking the right holes at the right time, kind of like real football.
Online team play features the ability to have three players on each team. Each player will control a certain group of the team: quarterback, running backs, wide receivers on offense; and d-line, linebackers, and d-backs on defense. This requires communication and teamwork, a challenge for those who have mastered strategies for only a specific role.
[image2]There is also going to be the ability to scout online. You will use points to scout yourself (#1, know yourself), or other players (#2, know your enemy) for tendencies. No word yet on whether or not scouting will tell you your opponents’ tendency to go for it on fourth down, which would be major.
Madden 11 looks beautiful, as always. Just when the folks at Tiburon seem to reach a pinnacle in visual splendor, you learn that "amazingly awesome" is not good enough for them. This year, the whole lighting system has been revamped, with special attention given to natural-looking sunlight, and shadows cast in night games and domes. NFL players have had there faces ripped from reality and wrapped around digital models for that added authenticity, from Peyton Manning’s 50-ft.-high forehead to that thing on Drew Brees’ face (Mole? Birthmark? Leech? What is that?). The audio sounds great, too, especially in domes.
There seems to be a lot of effort put into bringing more football authenticity to this year's installment of the Madden franchise, running the gambit from visual to audio to control. With improved online play, Madden 11 looks to remain a juggernaut in the sports simulation field. ChristMadden Day is August 10th this year. If you have been a good little boy or girl, may all your Madden dreams come true.