Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Monday, August 9, 2010
02:56 PM - August 9, 2010. Written by MMChrisS
One note before I get started here, this is from a 'borrowed' retail version of the game, so my time has been kind of limited with the full game. However, I have played enough to feel good enough about putting a review out. I'll possibly add to this review in a couple more days with some more thoughts. So if, by some strange chance, you haven't made up your mind by then, hopefully those extended thoughts will help you one way or the other.


Running Game - EA once again nailed the running game in Madden like they did with NCAA. The blocking is much improved and the action in the trenches is just so much better than it has been.

The Feel - Madden feels as if it's big time again, which is always a good thing. I can't put my finger on exactly why this is, but the game has a different feel this year which I think helps the overall quality.

Atmosphere - I think the addition of stadium sounds, the authentic music and crowd chants, they're all moving in the right direction. While indeed, it could be said there is room for improvement here, I could say the same thing about every sports game.

Passing is tighter - The route running is much better this year, the animations are solid. I'm a believer in the passing game this year, although like I said on the Radio Show last night -- I have a slight fear the quarterbacks and passing game might be too tight over time resulting in an overpowering offense.

Dual Stick Controls - Madden's control scheme has gone from an abomination of button mashing to something more like NHL, with dual analog controls. There's A LOT more that can be done with these (see: Backbreaker), but the new controls are a big step forward for the franchise.

Pro-tak/Locomotion - I can't separate the two because they make so much of a difference with the game. I think this might be the big reason for the different feel of the game. I might add I really want to get some dual hit tackles and whatnot back in the game, we need more of a free form animation system still -- but don't kid yourself, Pro-Tak is the best system for tackling outside of Backbreaker ever, in some ways it could be comparable.


Animations - There's stuff that can be liked and disliked here. The skating is definitely toned down but not quite out this year. But the new additions are substantial -- but oftentimes not quite implemented in the most effective way. My emotions are mixed here.

Commentary - Lock Gus Johnson and Chris Collingsworth in the booth next year for a week, have them deliver thousands upon thousands of lines. Kudos to EA for the choice, these guys are perfect for Madden. But the repetitive lines and out of place over the top excitement needs to be tweaked.


Play Action Passing - This is a patchable offense I think, but the Play-Action passes are just off this year. Definitely a downer.

Special Teams - I think EA misdefined what the word special in special teams mean. Any good football coach will tell you special teams are a huge part of the game, they determine 'little' things like field position and whatnot. This aspect of the game, while not completely broken, is very close to that.

Defense - Whereas NCAA's defensive game was quite solid, Madden's has a bunch of issues from defensive behavior, to secondary play, really just a bunch of little issues that add up substantially. Let's not forget that defense is still a bore to play.

Franchise Mode - Let's just put it this way, both Dynasty and Franchise are abominations, they are boring, stale, and they have few redeeming qualities to make you want to play them if you've ever experienced them in the past. This hurts the game's replayability...a lot.

Superstar Mode - If the competition in this arena weren't so weak, I'd say Superstar mode was one of the worst of it's kind. Instead, I'll simply say it's a bore to play, there's no realism involved, and I see no reason you'd even want to touch this mode if you've played it any of the last couple of years. Bore of the same. (not a typo)

The Verdict

How the success from NCAA to Madden got lost in translation I don't know. But we now know NCAA is the best playing football game ever with Madden trailing it in just about every category on the gameplay front, albeit slightly. Madden is still fun to play on the field, and if you don't own Madden NFL 10 and if you are an NFL fan, this is a no brainer of a purchase. Madden NFL 11 is the best Madden yet on next-gen consoles, which is how it should be. However, if you are a casual football fan then NCAA is the best option for you -- unless you hate the college game. Madden is solid, above average, and definitely not a bad game. It's just not great, and people expect nothing less.

Chris' Madden NFL 11 Score:
My ratings explained.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
06:02 AM - August 9, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: Do you enjoy preseason NFL football or would you rather it be cut short, to extend the regular season?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

JiggidyJames, jaosming (24)
Blog: Steve_OS
Friday, August 6, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Monday, August 2, 2010
12:57 PM - August 2, 2010. Written by MMChrisS

To anyone who read my Backbreaker Review, you know I've royally trashed the game's quality in the past. But I've also tried to remain consistent with the game being a lasting lesson to sports game developers that there is a different approach than the 'God-angle' many of the games have gone with in the past few years.

To truly simulate a sport, the best way to do so is to get you closer to the action, Backbreaker did just that. However, the game couldn't get the basic tenets of football down, so while the effort was to be honored -- it was still a very bad game at the end of the day.

Until today.

Backbreaker's patch, announced today, looks to completely change the game from the bottom up. Those rule snafus? Mostly fixed. Gameplay issues? Addressed. New plays and formations? Yeah, they threw in the kitchen sink as well.

The improvements will almost certainly take Backbreaker from a completely atrocious game to at least a somewhat passable game and possibly beyond that. However, what I feel the patch really does is leave a lasting legacy in the minds of gamers on how a company should handle the position of being in the wrong.

You never once heard a Backbreaker spokesman or developer say anything to deflect blame nor did you ever hear any excuses. There were no 'limited development times' or 'we were saving that for next year's' thrown out.

All you heard was, "Our game has serious issues and we are going to make it right. Major patch coming, see you in awhile."

And today, we see how a company should handle major defects in their game. Backbreaker's new patch not only fixes issues, the company decided to add in some extra features for free to show that they really do care about their customers. That kind of support for one's customers is as refreshing as it is revolutionary, at least in the sense that treating your customers like people who spent their hard earned money on you instead of a number is how things should be.

Perhaps quality won't follow with this Backbreaker patch like I hope, but I do know I can see a company that really cares for their customers. And to that I say bravo to the Backbreaker crew, with customer support and appreciation like this, I can't help but feel optimistic about the series' future.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
Friday, July 30, 2010
05:42 AM - July 30, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: What are your weekend plans, what games will you be playing?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

Aerodynamics (46), Flesheater (27), JoeMimic (26), Matt Young (26), buddy321813 (20)
Blog: Steve_OS
Thursday, July 29, 2010
06:03 AM - July 29, 2010. Written by Steve_OS
If any of these links interest you, talk about them.QOTD: Which demo impressed you more, Madden NFL 11 or NCAA Football 11?

Happy Birthday to the following OS'ers!

Jistic (40), Jonesy (30), tc23 (30), kennyacid (27), Cj7298419 (26), aldogabd (24), alex96
Blog: Steve_OS
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
As many of you may know already -- and if you don't it's ok I'm about to enlighten you -- NCAA's dynasty mode is horribly broken this year.

Since EA Tiburon made the decision to rate recruits lower coming into school (but yet I guess forget to work on the progression of the game), most teams end up with middle of the road talent after years 4 or 5. It's like all of the football talent in America dries up after this year and all you are left with are a bunch of players rated in the 70s. I did a sim to see how bad it was and my Oklahoma Sooners went from a team with A ratings to a team with C+ ratings, yet they still won the Big XII in Year 7 with that kind of talent. Mostly because Texas had slipped to a team with C-s across the board. Baylor actually was rated as D+ (roughly where such powerhouses as UL Monroe and Western Kentucky lie today).

To me -- this just shows how horribly stale Dynasty mode is in NCAA.

It's a lot like how the signs that we are running out of cheap and easy to extract oil become rather evident when companies are having to resort to drilling thousands of feet down underneath a mile of water already. In the same way, the signs that this version of dynasty mode are running it's course (now going on 13 years) are abundant everywhere. NCAA's developers are having to resort to new tricks to keep the mode fresh which are starting to really hurt the mode's quality in more ways than one. People I have talked to hate the new recruiting system anyways, and then you add in the broken ratings coming in to keep users' teams from being too good, and you see the risks really aren't paying off.

So what does the NCAA team do from here? In this guys' opinion they go back to the drawing board and figure out how to recreate dynasty mode -- and I have the answer right here: You are the coach.

That's right, rebuild dynasty mode as a simulation of what's it's like to be a coach in one of the best sports in the world. College football is built around coaches personalities and programs more than it is players, so Dynasty mode should be about coaches.

You should be able to start dynasty mode with career goals such as win more National Championships than Bear Bryant or win more overall games than Joe Paterno did. And for those achievement freaks -- there should be big time rewards for doing these things.

This would go along with you having a real coaches market where you have to hire and fire coordinators and whatnot. Each coordinator would have ratings which effect player progression and a system which would determine your playbook. This coaches market would also include your coordinators getting offers to go coach elsewhere and also you getting offers as well. Each school has different budgets, which you set at the beginning of the year to pay your coordinators as well as to set towards recruiting. These are all real decisions coaches have to make to keep their program in check.

And EA Sports' can set up a website with a NCAA Football 12 Coaches Hall of Fame, showcasing players best careers in their hall. Shoot, set up a competition or two and give away from free swag towards the players who compete and complete some career goals over time.

And dare I say it, you could even set up historical challenges where the year is 1947 and your name is Bud Wilkinson and you are now in charge of the Oklahoma Sooners. You have 13 years to complete certain challenges which would match what Bud did (win 47 in a row, win 3 national championships, go 131 - 13 -3 overall). And what about a Bill Snyder challenge at Kansas State? How cool would that mode be?

It just takes a little imagination EA. Revamp dynasty mode, we beg you.

Viva la revolution NCAA'ers.
Chris is the Executive Editor of Operation Sports and maintains this blog on the site. He is also a native Oklahoman and avid storm chaser. You can follow him on Twitter @ChrisSnr.
Blog: MMChrisS
I sometimes feel like a round-earth proponent in a room full of flat-earth ascribers -- or was it a Climatologist trying to explain Global Warming to a room full of Republicans?

One thing that's always brought up is that my argument doesn't ascribe to basic capitalistic principles, I ask why don't they? Someone who says it doesn't certainly doesn't understand economics if games on a store shelf aren't competing against one another for the consumers dollar. Let's take a game which gets a lot of flak for a lack of competition in the same sport -- Madden.

The majority of sales of Madden come from people who are most likely just as likely to buy the new Call of Duty or even another sports game. This basically means that the Madden team has to develop a game of sufficient quality to be a viable purchasing option for the majority of their potential sales against the other games on the shelf: regardless of what sport, planet or genre that game represents. Every game faces marketplace competition like this, and in a marketplace with constrained dollars to be spent, you are fighting to a piece of the bigger pie because that's your mission in business. So needless to say, capitalistic tenets are completely followed despite all claims to the contrary.

And just remember: my argument is based upon my finding that same-sport competition is completely overstated when it comes to why a game is the quality of game it is. I'm not saying it doesn't contribute to end-game quality, because there are good examples of where a new feature helped a game which originated from another. But from year to year, a game's quality is pretty much set already due to corporate decisions before a single line of code is written. Investment into the product, developmental talent and imagination, overall marketplace conditions, and most of all -- the existing base of code developers are working off of all determine the quality of a game before another game in the same genre enters the picture.

Indeed, we see good examples all throughout history of two games in a sport where one succeeds in quality and the other one fails. We even see that same example in this current crop of games. So let's take a look through a few examples and ask a few questions along the way.

First on our tour is NCAA Football. NCAA has been free of same sport competition for nearly 8 years and the latest NCAA release was the best playing football game ever in this writers humble opinion. If same-sport competition was the SINGLE GREATEST factor in game quality which many argue, how did Tiburon ever create a game so good with a lack of same-sport competition to drive developers onwards?

Again, another anecdotal example: NBA 2K. The game has been stuck in a rut and not innovating much at all the past couple of years to the point the game was getting really stale -- even though EA Sports' product has been fast approaching 2K. If single-sports competition was the single greatest factor in overall game quality, why was 2K meandering sideways in quality for a couple of years with same-sport competition fast approaching their product in quality? I'd argue that a lack of developmental talent/imagination along with a lack of new investment into the product had far bigger impacts on the game's quality than anything Live was doing.

I can also point to Soccer, where FIFA has soared while PES hasn't. If same sport competition was the single biggest factor in sports gaming quality, why didn't both games continue an upwards tick in quality?

What about Hockey? Why has one game (EA's NHL) become one of the best playing games on the market while another (NHL 2K) hasn't even come close to producing anything nearly of the same quality for several years? If same sport competition was the single greatest factor in why games succeed or fail, both games would have improved to keep up with one another over time, correct?

We can also point to baseball, where our two current games have been on different paths at times. MLB 2K's quality was down or sideways at best until recently beginning an upwards movement. MLB: The Show's quality was good to great and now sideways at best. In a lot of ways, The Show and 2K's battle is mirroring the basketball genre where one game was of high quality but not improving and the other took awhile but rapidly began to catch it. It makes you wonder if perhaps there is something bigger than same sports competition driving why sports games are the way they are?

I know it's hard to let go of old and tired ways of thinking, but if you just look at the evidence sport by sport, you see compelling signs that same-sport competition is merely a crutch for people to somehow justify why a game wasn't getting better during a few years period. In this day and age, the more simple-minded and blame-giving against the system an argument is, the more readily accepted it becomes: despite any evidence (oftentimes overwhelming) to the contrary.

Even though the evidence is compelling that factors well beyond same-sports competition have a far greater impact on game quality, I fear we'll be hearing the same old tired arguments on same-sport competition as we head towards a future where the market can only support one game per sport (and on a rare occasion two). I think the above real world cases overwhelmingly show that same sport competition's impact on game quality is highly overstated.

As I said yesterday, for the consumer: same-sport competition is good. The variety two games gives to the purchasing decision at the store is just excellent and can make even two stale games seem fresh much longer. However, when it comes to the actual game quality -- same-sport competition is best left at the door. It doesn't begin to scratch the surface of factors which determine the quality of a game once it hits store shelves.

Perhaps this debate will be brought up again in the future, but until next time OSers: remember the world is indeed round (and despite all claims to the contrary by big oil companies, the earth is indeed getting warmer each year).
Blog: MMChrisS