With the upcoming demo for EA Sports' Madden NFL 11 coming out on Tuesday July, 27th on PS3 and Xbox, I was able to get some hands on time with it before it goes out to everyone. As always, Madden's release is highly anticipated, especially with the new features coming in this year's game.
This year's demo has the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Jets facing off in the newly built Jets Stadium. Right off the bat you'll notice a change to the old gameplay mechanics. The kick stick has been replaced by a new kick meter, which is very similar to the 3-click swing in most golf games. The first click starts the meter, second is for power and the third is for accuracy.
Next up is Madden's new GameFLOW play-calling system, which is essentially like playing with the Ask Madden feature on every play. Its pretty cool to have an Offensive Coordinator take over that aspect of the game for you. He tells you about the plan for the next play, what defenders you should watch out for and which receiver you should be highlighting. This is a pretty cool system, though I see it more as a thing to use when you're playing the computer and not a live person.
I have three small issues with GameFLOW. The first is obvious, after so many games the generic messages from the coach will get repetitive. The second, which I have no proof of, is that it seems like the receiver the coach highlights get a bump in his stats making him just a little faster and the catches seem to come easier. I have no proof of that, and it simply could have been my heightened sense of awareness of that receiver. The last thing was how in the fourth quarter of a tied game with less then two minutes on the clock, rather than trying to run a two-minute offense for the win, GameFLOW wanted me to settle down and run out the clock to go to overtime. That kind of upset me, so I chose to audible out and won.
Next up, there is a new Strategy Pad which moves all the pre-play position changes, like coverage shifts and assignments on defense, as well as line shifts and hot routes on offense, off of the face buttons and onto the D-pad. While it is a little more organized than in the past, it now takes and extra button press to do all these changes as compared to previous years. In the past you could just move your defensive backs into press coverage by simply pressing Triangle followed by Down on the D-pad. Now you have to press any button on the D-pad to bring up the Strategy Pad, press Up on the D-pad for coverage, and then Down on the D-pad for press coverage. The same goes for offense, you now need to engage the Strategy Pad before assigning a hot route, or putting a man-in-motion. It's just one extra button, but as an experienced player it slowed me down.
If you're considering picking up Madden this year, or even if you have it pre-ordered it's definitely worth picking up the demo when it comes out on Tuesday. If you're on the fence about buying Madden this year, the demo will give you a good feel of how the game will play, especially having full 5 minute quarters in the demo. If you already plan on picking up the game when it releases, you should also download the demo since it will give you a good chance to get some time in with GameFLOW and help you decide if that is something you're going to want to play with on a full time basis.
I highly recommend downloading the demo and giving it a shot, GameFLOW will help expand Madden's already huge fan base.
Madden NFL 11 launches on PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP and PS2 on August 10th. The demo releases on Tuesday, July 27th on PS3 and Xbox 360.