Madden NFL 11 REVIEW

Madden NFL 11 Review (Wii)

Last year, Madden on the Wii consisted of new stylized graphics, a few new multiplayer-focused modes and the removal (or "lock-up") of traditional modes. While some of these items seemed like a good idea, the whole package was lacking. Too much of what made Madden Madden was missing.

This year, all of Madden 10ís feature list is back, but enough has been restored to make Madden 11 a worthwhile purchase. In fact, this is one of the most robust sports gaming packages on the Wii.

Returning Veterans

First, returning are the heavily stylized player models, which may seem weird at first, but are actually a good way to represent players without taxing the system. With these players comes pretty nice looking presentation and "on-field" graphics similar to what you see on Sundays.

The gameplay feels mostly the same as last year, though I found myself liking the controls a bit more. The Point and Pass seems pretty intuitive, and "drumming" the remote to break through lines happens less frequently. Defense is still a mixed-bag. Swat (swing up) and tackle (swing left or right) are too close and result in a few too many pass interference calls. Kicking is somewhat annoying, but signaling for a fair catch is kind of fun.

Overall, this is a pretty loose game of football, not in terms of penalties (which are included), but in terms of feel. It's probably a little more open than the average sim player would like, resulting in pretty high scores (especially when simming). However, I've had the occasional defensive game, and games determined by a last-minute turnover.

Also returning are modes that debuted last year on the Wii, including Madden Showdown and Road to the Superbowl. Madden Showdown is a multiplayer tournament with point totals and crazy rules. Road to the Superbowl is last yearís Season mode, for up to four players, again based on points. Like last year, you can be benched if you play too poorly. These modes are perfect as supplements to franchise, as opposed to last year when they were the main focus. Also included are fun mini-games and five-on-five football.

New Recruits

Speaking of franchise, itís all new this year and is a welcome addition. Franchise mode features a graphical interface shaped as a campus with different buildings possessing different functions. Go to your stadium to play games, the Pro Shop to adjust prices, etc. Behind the menus, the Franchise mode functions pretty much like last generation Madden franchises, which is a good thing.

On top of the traditional franchise options, a few additions come right from the Sims/Sim City playbook. You have a team of advisers who give you expectations and advice, and occasionally youíll be asked to make decisions that might make them happy or mad. After a lopsided loss, I was advised by my performance coach to have an early morning practice. I chose an early start time -- thereby opening up the practice facility earlier than usual -- that caused my financial adviser some stress. These situations could be a little more clear but are interesting enough to warrant more frequency.

These elements, as well as your record, result in graphical changes to your campus -- from ratty billboards that just happen to spell "Awful Team" to upgrades like a fancy fountain. These are not a big deal, but certain elements add character to a mode that in other iterations is purely (and coldly) menu driven.

Another interesting aspect of the Franchise mode is its method of score keeping. You earn points at the end of the season based on your record and met expectations. Your Legacy score is then ranked among other franchises from the 2000 Patriot and Colts to the '70s Dolphins and Steelers. Some humor is shown by listing the current Lions at the bottom of the faux-leaderboard. While the info does not include Super Bowl appearances your team has made before you have taken over the franchise, it is very interesting to have teams to look up to as you progress. Also, you can simply lose in the Franchise mode if you perform poorly. Now, that element actually fits within this version of Franchise mode, but I would still like to see hiring/firing as an option.

The whole mode is a little over the top and ridiculous in some ways that may turn some users off, but it fits the overall visuals of the Wii Madden series, which has taken on a kid-friendly look. However, I am not saying the mode is extremely watered-down or anything -- you will still set depth charts, manage contracts, and draft and sign rookies and free agents.

All-Around Athlete

A few other additions include weather and Gameflow, both which work as you would expect. Weather looks pretty good for the Wii and affects gameplay in a reasonable manner. Gameflow works like it does on the PS3/360, but you donít get the "coach speak." I also could not find a way to modify a game plan -- if it's there, it is buried. Commentary is limited but features Gus Johnson and Cris Collinsworth.

Altogether, this version of Madden takes the needed steps to improve from Madden 10, which itself was a radical departure for the series. The reworked Franchise mode is not the best ever seen, but it fits the game and the platform, and it serves as a nice centerpiece. The additional multiplayer modes and mini-games vary in quality but are quick diversions and perfect for parties. Online is a mixed bag, still relying on friend codes and plagued with the occasional bits of lag (and seemingly mandatory cheesers and quitters).

Still, when viewed as a complete football package, this game offers quite a bit. If you go in expecting a more kid-friendly and arcade version of Madden (which at this point should be expected on the Wii), you wonít be disappointed.

On the Field: A fun, relatively intuitive and loose football game with a few control issues.

Graphics: Same as last year -- stylized and cartoon-like -- but with added weather effects. Probably comes down to personal taste.

Sound Design: Good music and commentary, even if limited in quantity.

Entertainment Value: A great football package with something for everyone. The Franchise mode is a great new addition. The other modes are made better by not carrying the weight of the price.

Learning Curve: Customizable options can tailor this game for even the youngest player, and the developers have offered enough choices to extend the experience for seasoned veterans

Online: Your experience will depend on lag and opponent, but this game is still integrated with online play better than most other Wii products

Score: 8.0 (Very Good)

Madden NFL 11 Score
Franchise mode.
Accessible gameplay.
New additions.
Occasional control issues.
Occasional online issues.
Commentary is a bit limited.
out of 10
Madden NFL 11 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Sausage @ 08/22/10 04:48 AM
After speaking to a few guys here and reading this review, this might eventually get purchased when it is dropped in price.
# 2 DickDalewood @ 08/22/10 08:26 AM
I've got this and the PS3 version... I probably play this about 25% of the time. It's a very fun game, and the franchise mode is definitely cool to mess around with. I don't regret picking it up at all.
# 3 Bull_Dozer @ 08/24/10 04:30 PM
I played this at my cousins house and I rather liked it. It's all cartoony, but cool I thought. No fantasy draft available for franchise, which I think is lame.
# 4 Bull_Dozer @ 08/24/10 04:32 PM
Oh, and you can't make a gameplan to go along with gameflow... which seems really odd to me.
# 5 Gotmadskillzson @ 08/24/10 04:37 PM
The only sports games I like on the Wii is golf, tennis and bowling. Anything else just don't feel right.
# 6 oneamongthefence @ 08/26/10 08:07 AM
Disappointing that it doesn't have a classic controller set-up. However It's a blast at parties especially ones containing alcohol which in no way do I endorse.
# 7 Fender178 @ 08/26/10 10:44 AM
Nice Review. I prefer the Ps3 or Xbox360 versions. Id rather use a controller rather than use the wii motion controls after getting Madden 07 as gift and experience kicking FGs or Xps and always missing em wide left or wide right I prefer using a controller and pressing buttons or an analog stick to this.
# 8 russwg1970 @ 08/30/10 09:02 AM
I don't understand why the classic controller isn't an option? I just can't play a football game flicking around that wand like some kind of fairy. The franchise portion of the game sounds interesting though.

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