If you are a fan of football games, there was a lot to like about Madden NFL 10. The football giant underwent a huge upgrade in many areas, including the ProTak animation system, and finally delivered an online season mode for which fans had been clamoring. Despite these improvements, the running game was still somewhat disappointing. Still, Madden NFL 10 was clearly the best NFL video game to date.

Nonetheless, ESPN NFL 2K5 fans have consistently complained about the run-blocking physics and AI, or lack thereof, in the Madden NFL series, including Madden NFL 10. EA Sports is not ignoring these cries and appears to be targeting these disenchanted gamers with its next iteration of the series. On the Madden NFL 11 blog, Mike Scantlebury, a gameplay designer for Electronic Arts Tiburon, debuted the “totally new” run-blocking AI for Madden NFL 11 and explained what football fans can expect:

As we started planning out the changes to make to run blocking In [sic] Madden NFL 11, we just focused on creating the true run blocking schemes exactly as they are drawn up in real life. No reason to try and make a video-gamey version of it – it needed to be the real thing. It definitely took a lot of tuning to get the matchups right versus the many defensive fronts in football, but we have done it. The very first thing we had to do was really lay down the law. What I mean by this is that blockers had to be given realistic rules for who they are going to target depending on what type of run it is. We had to devise rules for each run blocker individually, starting from the play-side Tight End to the back-side Tight End, and all the Linemen in between. These rules also had to work in the situations where there was no Tight End, had to affect blockers in the backfield, and had to work whether you had a fullback to lead block or if you were running out of a Singleback formation. These realistic blocking matchup rules have stood the test of time in football at every level of play, from Pee Wee to professional. So we set out to implement these timeless rules into our football game. Daniel White (who from here forward I will refer to as the greatest software engineer of all time) was able to take the rules that I laid out and actually code them into the game. The result? Better overall run blocking, bigger holes for ball carriers to run through, and more realistic running lanes created by smarter offensive players.

OK, that’s all fine and good, but does it actually make a difference in-game? Check out the below Madden NFL 11 videos showing some of football’s basic run plays.

The footage in these videos is certainly encouraging, but I’d be curious to see the blocking when the right defensive call is made. I do find it interesting that these clips are being released on the eve of Backbreaker‘s debut, but I’m the cynical sort. But don’t get me wrong…I’m not complaining. Competition is good, people!

In any case, it’s nice to see that EA Sports is looking to raise the bar over last year’s version and not just release a roster update of Madden 10.

Well NFL fanatics, what do you think? Did the boys at Electronic Arts Tiburon get it right this time? I know you are vocal types, so let us know!

Madden NFL 11 looks to dominate the competition on August 10, 2010, for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii.

Source: Madden 11 Blog