With another E3 comes another Madden game. As one of the biggest EA Sports franchises, this year's iteration doesn't plan to change the Madden formula all that much, especially since last year's game was so well received. However, EA Tiburon has implemented a number of improvements that hope to make the game "simpler, quicker, and deeper" in order to make it more accessible for newcomers, and exciting for long time vets.
One of the most significant changes to this year's Madden is in the running mechanic. The old locomotion system has been completely removed and replaced with a combination of the running mechanic found in EA's FIFA series, as well as a completely new system. The result is a much more realistic running animation. Sharp turns don't look nearly as awkward in Madden 11, and running long distances doesn't look as stiff and automated this time around.
There is also improved run blocking in Madden 11. In years past, closely following blocks has been dangerous, as defensive players could often act like they weren't even being blocked and easily make a tackle. The improved run blocking acts more realistically than previous versions and makes running the ball, especially on the inside, much easier. Madden 11 has also done away with the sprint button, meaning the only controls a player will use when running the ball are the two thumbsticks: the left to run, and the right to perform special moves like juking and spinning. This places even more emphasis on following your blocks, as you aren't able to get a sudden magical boost of speed.
Other changes in this year's game include a cleaner HUD, which results in a more broadcast-styled presentation. Instead of having numerous buttons on screen detailing pre-snap controls, Madden 11 introduces the Strategy Pad. This basically hides a lot of your pre-snap controls, giving you a better view of the field with less clutter. With a press of the d-pad, you bring back all of the controls you could ever need before saying, "hut!"
A new play-calling system has also been introduced called "GameFlow." Basically, it allows you to set up a game plan that will be executed depending on your current down and situation. The aim of this new system is to allow players to spend less time picking plays, and more time on the field, although plays can still be chosen traditionally. Your coach will even talk to you over the headset after picking a play, informing you of things like watching out for a blitz. This feature is a cool idea for beginners, but veterans will probably want to turn it off, as I can see it getting very repetitive, very quickly.
And for some reason, the kicking mechanic has been reworked in Madden 11. For the past few years, kick-offs have been handled with the thumbstick, by pulling it back and then pushing it forward. But now, it is all handled with the press of the A button much like in the old Madden games... you know, before controllers had analog thumbsticks. Whether they made this change just for the sake of making a change, or because they saw some sort of flaw in the thumbstick method remains to be unseen.
Madden 11 certainly doesn't make any drastic changes to the tried-and-true football formula that fans have come to expect every year. But a host of significant improvements should reel in all of the hardcore fans, and the new playcalling mechanics make this the most accessible Madden for newcomers in years. Get ready to hit the gridiron on August 10.