|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Tiburon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Play by play commentating duties have been picked up by CBSs Gus Johnson, replacing Tom Hammond. While Gus does a serviceable job, he doesnt have the same voice and familiarity that Al Michaels offered. On the other hand, Chris Collinsworth is back this year providing color commentary. Collinsworth has shot up in recent years as a highly respected NFL guru and keeping him on the broadcasting team lends the announcing an air of credibility it would lack with anyone else in the broadcast booth. Heres hoping Collinsworth is kept around for many years to come.
The musical selection is a pleasant surprise, but your millage may vary based upon taste. There are not as many tracks as some sports titles with roughly 15 or so songs, a bit light and prone to repetitiveness. Harping on the musical selection may seem a bit trite in this instance, but when youre pouring hours upon hours navigating menus and comparing stats between games, the music better not suck. Classic bands such as AC/DC, Guns N Roses, and Ozzy Osbourne manage to keep the musical wear and tear to a minimum. If youre going to listen to a song repeatedly, why not have it be a song thats stood the test of time?
Unfortunately, there hasnt been much work done this year on the Franchise or NFL Superstar modes. Franchise improvements have chiefly come to give more realistic simulation stats for players and to improve the free agent and contract signing process. NFL Superstar mode continues to pale in comparison to MLB The Shows Road to the Show career mode, and this is coming from a football guy. Frankly, every sports game could learn from The Shows career mode, but thats a topic for another day.
If theres one thing Madden does do, its offer a bevy of ways to experience the game online. Online modes include Madden Ultimate Team, Online Franchise, Head to Head, and the new Online Team Play. Online Team Play is the stand-out feature this year, allowing up to three players to take on the CPU or three other players in a game where each player is responsible for one unit on the squad. For example, you may be in control of the defensive line while your buddy is managing the linebackers and some stranger is handling defensive back duties. Its a wonderful way to make each player responsible for a very specific part of the game and brings accountability. Id just start to feel sorry for the guy on your team controlling the secondary now. The massive room for error there makes me apprehensive to ever want to be the one explaining how an accidental button press led to a 5 yard slant turning into a wide open 70 yard touchdown.
So whats the verdict? Well, if youre one of the Madden-head sports gamers out there, you were going to pick this one up regardless of what any review told you. The hype train is too difficult to resist. For the rest of us, particularly those of us who have been playing Madden off and on for the last 20 years, its a little more nuanced of a question. If youve been taking it easy the last couple of years like I have, this seems like a perfectly acceptable place to jump back in and experience the cumulative improvements the series has made. At the same time, if you live for online play, the new Online Team Play mode will bring many new dynamics all on its own. But if youre the guy who has Madden 10 and typically keeps to franchise mode or playing with friends in the dorm room, you really could save yourself the money and wait for the inevitable price drop or just take a pass (no pun intended, hey-oh!) on this one, if you can stomach it. Madden NFL 11 is certainly a good game, but doesnt offer enough changes to necessitate it a must buy to casual player.
CCC Freelance Writer