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Post Superbowl: Meast21Foreverís Madden Review 
Posted on August 22, 2010 at 02:38 AM.
Donovan McNabb finally hoisting the Lombardi. Chris Cooley jumping up and down through a haze of confetti. An NFL Championship back in the Nationís Capital. A ticker tape parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Sights and sounds of a glorious return to greatness for the Washington Redskins and their fans. Even through watching Obama hold up a John Riggins jersey, I still felt more accomplished taking my team to the Superbowl in this yearís Madden than in any other. Unfortunately, it wasnít for all the reasons youíd expect.

First of all, let me say this is the best Madden Iíve played. The graphics, the atmosphere, the hard hits, running lanes Ė itís a great game. I loved it on last gen consoles, but Iím not one of those guys who says, ďAhÖ just let me update the rosters on Madden 05.Ē Iím a big supporter of current gen Maddens and have been since it started (well, excluding 06 becauseÖ come on). There are new things to this years game, including the updated Madden Moments, Gameflow, OL improvements, etc. that make this game worth the upgrade from Madden 10. However, there are far too many shortcomings to make this the end-all be-all of football titles.

Gameflow is a feature that was advertised to revolutionize the game, which to some, it may be. Personally, itís not my cup of tea. I turned it off after a game. So I wonít go much into that. One of the biggest improvements this year, the OL blocking, is also one of my biggest gripes. On the default settings (on All-Pro), I found it impossible to run the ball against a 3-4 defense. The center gets overpowered and there is little you can do aside from run away from a dominant NT. Some may say this is realistic. Sure, running away from good players is a good strategy, but it is certainly not the only one. If I see that my center is getting abused by a 300+ pounder, I should be able to set a guard to help him. If the user was given control of the OL blocking assignments, OL play would be much improved. For example, I run with the Skins against Dallas. Their NT, Jay Ratliff, can blow past my Center, Casey Rabach, on 98% of the plays. Itís not that itís a glitch Ė heís just a much better player ratings-wise. When trying to run up the middle, itís a loss or no gain. Every time. So, take it outside right? Well, then we meet Damarcus Ware. Now Iím in a jam. If I could set my guard to double Ratliff, Iíd have more success up the middle. Or if I could assign my TE to double Ware off the edge, maybe Iíd be able to get to the corner. Of course, should I get to the corner with a FB, TE or WR ahead of me, 9 times out of 10 theyíll cut back and try to find the closest player to hit. Never, ever does this happen in real life. A lead blocker is called that for a reason. If Iíve got a FB out in front of my RB, they should hit the whole like they have the ball, knowing where the play is designed to go and that the RB should be behind him. Unfortunately, this doesnít happen. So, reluctantly Iím left with the option of editing my sliders to make my running game usable. Iím happy with the running game now that Iíve tweaked the sliders, yet Iím still left feeling that if I had a bit more control, I wouldnít need to dumb down the defense/beef up my OL using sliders.

Another of the biggest deficiencies in this iteration of Madden is on defense. QBís do zero moving in the pocket. This leads to one of two things: a)QBs throwing bomb passes that a user can easily adjust to or b)taking a hit. The latter of these can lead to two things as well: a)the qb throwing a duck that falls no where near any receiver, or b)on occasion, a sack. This is unacceptable. CPU quarterbacks have been likened to robots in Madden for years and it is because they are glued to one spot. If a QB does move, heíll just step a few feet to the right, then continue staring downfield. Never do we see a QB like Romo or Favre extending a play by rolling out. Some of the most exciting plays in NFL history occur after the QB has left the pocket. Remember the pass last year when Favre took a hit, rolled out and threw one up to Greg Lewis for a game-winning TD? In Madden, Favre wouldíve thrown the ball just as he took that first hit and it wouldíve fell a few feet behind the defensive linemen. It takes so much away from the game. I donít expect to sack the QB 5 times a game, but I donít expect to see intentional grounding go unpunished 15 times a game either. This has to be addressed. Plays break down in the NFL Ė bring it to Madden.

The thing Iíve noticed as I play through the season is how many of the Ďlittle thingsí I had to put up with. I felt accomplished after I won the Super Bowl for the mere fact that I was done. No more quick outs to my FB that go 15 yards over his head and into the stands. No more of my receiver being bumped off his route 15 yards down the field by a defensive back and nothing being called. So many little things drove me nuts. Instead of trying to make it into some neat paragraph, Iím going to lay it all out and quickly explain it while you nod your head in agreement.

  • End of games Ė If there are 30 seconds left and the CPU has no time outs and I kneel the ball, my team should rush the field. Game over. I donít need to watch my guys in the huddle for 30 more seconds.
  • Replays and playclock Ė I love the fact that they show replays right after a play. But why does the clock stop until the replay is over? If Iím on a drive running down the clock, I donít need to watch the replay, then wait at the play call screen until the clock starts running again.
  • Announcing Ė Oh dear Lord. Could it be any worse? Iím happy with Gus. Definitely an upgrade. But him yelling ďNO ONEís gunna catch him!!Ē when I break through the line at 40 yard line, then saying absolutely nothing when Chris Cooley makes a one handed catch in the corner of the endzone Ė come on fellas. Chris and Gus are two very talkative announcers. If they both called a game in reality, itíd never be quite. Give us some filler. Give us some timing. These guys are professionals. Represent them like it, EA.
  • Quality Control Ė There are certain things that take the fun right out of the game. For example, can we get a restart button in Madden Moments? Please. Situation: I have 2 minutes to score a TD, no timeouts, and the situation starts me on 4th and long. I donít convert. Let me restart! Please. I donít want to watch the CPU down the ball 3 times. Or as another QC example, why does my kickers name never get announced after making a FG? Iíve had Gus say so many different names, my players, opposing team players, just not my kicker. Heíll say ďLONDON FLETCHER, just tacked on 3 points.Ē Really? London lost a lot of weight and turned white when I wasnít looking. How do these things go unnoticed.
  • User team attribute balance - Let me explain. (No, there is too much. Let me sum up.) If Albert Haynesworth lines up against a single blocker, he will dominate that player 9/10 times. If I'm playing against Albert Haynesworth, this remains true. The AI will make Haynesworth a force against my OL. If the Skins are the user controlled team, however, Haynesworth does not dominate (unless the user is controlling him - and even then there's that famous 'pass with .2 seconds left' ability that all AI quarterbacks have this year). Why is it different for the user team? It's the same with passing. If I line up in man, my corners read plays late and don't react. If the AI lines up in man, corners make cuts before the receivers.
  • Passing arch - This is a much bigger issue than it seems, I'm sure. In Madden 11 (as well as NCAA), it's difficult to throw 10-20 yards to the middle of the field with any accuracy. That is from the lack of arc on throws. In NCAA, the team corrected it by 'lowering athleticism' of its linebackers, leading to less knocked down passes. That's not good enough. My QB should know not to throw a rope pass to a receiver who's 20 yards away. It won't work. (Donovan McNabb tries it often - ends up at the WR's feet) Trajectory is a must fix. There's nothing more disheartening than having a sure TD pass tipped away by a middle linebacker 20 yards away from the WR.

Before I conclude, let me discuss Franchise mode for the same length of time EA spent on it this year.

To conclude, I enjoyed Madden this year. I worked hard to get the achievements. I played hard to get the Lombardi. I worked through franchise only to find how little had been done and how many issues still lingered (15+ players getting 12 sacks or more, statistics in general, NCAA player ratings, injury reserve, CPU trade logic, etc.). I even played all the Madden Moments. But I think now, Iím finished. The game play has too many issues to keep me coming back and I'm not an online guy. The franchise is the same thing I played in Madden 10 Ė been there, done that. Sadly, I'm just finished. Iíve never felt over the game so quickly. After playing NCAA non-stop until Madden hit the shelves, I had high hopes that the NFL exclusive would be just as good if not better. I was disappointed. I played the game and was content. Now, as I watch Donovan Mcnabb shake President Obamaís hand, itís bitter sweet Ė Iím happy, but still left feeling so empty. I place Madden on my shelf and look at it the way Kevin Dyson looks at his 2000 AFC Championship ring. I tried. Madden tried. But despite it all, we came up short. It's nice. Shiny. Still, not enough. One day soon, weíll get there. Until then, Madden 11 is just another Ďsolid effortí.
# 1 stlstudios189 @ Aug 22
the only thing that they shouldn't or can't change is the field goal thing. That's an actual rule in the NFL. If a team misses a FG inside the 20 the team gets the ball @ the 20
# 2 Meast21Forever @ Aug 22
@stlstudios - thanks man. fixed it. i didn't know that. should've googled haha
# 3 rudyjuly2 @ Aug 25
Nice write-up!
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