Today the Madden 11 demo finally hit, just two weeks after NCAA 11's release, and let's just say the overall community feedback hasn't exactly been positive. While NCAA inserted some subtle changes into its gameplay to greatly improve the overall product, Madden decided to make more cosmetic changes. But does it reach the pre-360/PS3 days of yore or is it still the same old boring Madden based on the demo? Find out after the jump.
Well, first I tried to download the thing on the PS3 at 6 pm and the thing somehow still wasn't up, so I went to our resident trusty 360 and downloaded it in a few minutes. The first thing you notice is just how the Saints influence the intro and press start screen, much like the Steelers and Cards did in the last game. There's also still no intro video quite like the Madden 08 edition, which greatly disappoints me to no end. But really they'll never match that again, so why even try. CAN YOU FEEL IT!!??!?
The first thing you notice after that is the new gameplanning feature. You can pick what plays that the gameflow feature, which I'll get to, will call in certain situations regarding down and distance. I didn't feel like playing with it though, and it really doesn't make that much of a difference. If you're really into pretending you're an NFL coach, it's fine though I guess.
So I took control of the Jets and the Sanchize and turned the accelerated clock off, playing on All-Pro, to get the full effect and as much gameplay as possible. In case you didn't know, there are full 5 minute quarters for the first time in a Madden demo. Fantastic. The presentation,which the Madden community has been clamoring for since NFL 2K5 has been greatly improved and puts NCAA's intros to shame. The chanting and dancing actually looks fairly good and these semi-interesting videos of players being excited has replaced the traditional coin toss screen which cuts out at least a little of the monotony. It's better than looking at Ed Hochuli. While these videos aren't on par with Drew Brees's 300 chants, they are quite good and a great improvement overall.
Now let's get to the most anticipated addition: Gus Johnson replacing Old Queen Tom Hammond as announcer. Most weren't happy with Hammond, who's known for calling horse races, and loved Johnson for his over the top antics and screaming. Well the problem is that in real life he usually only does this in big situations. HE DOES IT ON EVERY PLAY IN THIS GAME. When you get a pass off on second and 8 to the fullback in the flat, Gus is going crazy. It's amusing for the first 2 quarters. I assume getting to the third time playing, you'd want to put it on mute. You barely even hear Collinsworth anymore. When Johnson isn't screaming, he's doing Old Spice Red Zone ads while the Old Spice whistling is being played. I'm gonna be honest, Gus doing the slogans was my favorite part and made me giggle. That I don't think will get old.
Now the Gameflow, which is basically just ask the coach except it just does it without you asking. This option is optional thank God. You can also select to pick your own play with Gameflow turned on. It honestly didn't speed the game up for me at all. It was just as long but I'm someone who picks plays notoriously fast. It's probably aimed at online players who take forever to pick plays, using up half the play clock. Really, to say I hate it doesn't do it justice but it's not for me. It's for people who can't decide and those that are just getting into the game. It also seemed like the game picked defenses that would make your coordinator's playcalling look good. But that's probably me just being paranoid, except that I was tearing it up with NFL immortal Mark Sanchez.
The other new addition, the strategy pad, is being called the worst thing since the vision cone from Madden 06. It basically just changed the way to make pre-snap adjustments by putting them on the directional pad fully as opposed to NCAA's and previous Madden's that used the shoulder buttons and Y mostly. This basically just slows down adjustments, which may hurt exploitation in online play. But it was designed for accessibility to help players not get stuck and unable to snap the ball according to Ian Cummings, but really it just slows people down. It's completely inaccessible according to everybody and just throws off Madden veterans.
To say people hate it isn't doing it justice. Now from someone who liked the vision cone but realizes it wasn't utilized properly, making guys like Rex Grossman better than Peyton Manning, I guess I understand what they were trying to do, but there was really no reason for this. Everybody should just calm down and wait for next year when it'll be fixed. Until then, grin and bear it.
But in the end, the game football itself feels pretty much like last year as do the graphics, which have now easily been outdone by NCAA's improvements. So, get ready for another year of ho-hum Madden football. Things ain't changing and you really have to wonder, this thought scared me by the way, that Madden will never again reach its heyday that it had before this generation.
Madden 2004, where have you gone?