First of all I have to say this and get it out of the way. As a Falcons fan, I am already sick of the Drew Brees and New Orleans Saints infected cover, opening video, start screen, and main menu title. If EA offered a premium upgrade DLC option to “skin” the game to your favorite team, I would jump on that in a heartbeat. There, I feel better. Marginally.
The second thing I have to get out of the way is that as in years past, I always start sports games on default settings. I believe that developers tune and ship games with specific settings to target their main audience. It is not like I have great skills or anything, so I do not immediately jump to All Madden, or whatever the highest difficulty setting happens to be for a given game. In the case of Madden 11, at least playing with the Falcons, I am probably going to have to adjust the difficulty settings straight away because I am having too much success (on offense anyway) out of the box.
In what has to be a silly attempt to make me feel better about my gaming skills, which as I just mentioned are in the least remarkable, I have already earned three Trophies, which is pretty pathetic if you consider that I did not earn any Trophies in Madden 10. Then again, I was not whoring, so maybe I just rule or something. Doubtful; the game ships on the Pro setting, and Madden 11 may just be easier than Madden 10. The developers probably just made easier to achieve Trophies.
Speaking of Trophies, I find it damn annoying that I cannot delete my 0 Trophies Madden 10 game from my Trophy list. I guess that is a rant for another day.
I have only briefly touched on Madden Ultimate Team mode (MUT), and will probably not give it serious consideration for few more days. After getting some fluff and stuff the first time I selected MUT mode, the fine folks at EA presented me with a message of thanksgiving. Apparently EA is grateful that I am coming back for another round of MUT, and I am sure they expect to get down my pants; well, into my wallet anyway.
The game thanked me for returning to MUT, and as a reward I was being given a “better” (subjective I am sure) starting pack compared to other losers that did not participate in last year’s MUT mode. As an added bonus, I was told I get to keep my existing Ultimate Team name (BTW that would be GA TX Falcons). Finally I was presented with the following message: “Congratulations, you have earned 0 coins.” I guess I did not play enough in Madden 10 to warrant any extra special consideration; that or maybe I did not spend enough. Either way I guess I should be grateful to be starting out with 8 72 rated cards (also received 2 71 rated cards, and 2 70 rated cards). To be fair, this actually is better than what I started out with last year. My starting total card collection value is rated at 107,600 coins.
More on Madden Ultimate Team in the coming days.
I am giving the new Gameflow system a go. If for no other reason I want to see if this “new” system can enhance my gameplay experience while speeding the time it takes to complete a game. The only issue I have so far is that in real life I expect the Falcons to try to pound the ball, but with Gameflow, I am seeing too much reliance on the pass in the first half. Interestingly enough, once I get in front, after halftime, I get a majority of running plays called (probably in the neighborhood of 4:1 rush/pass ratio). Certainly worth keeping an eye on to see if the frequency of pass plays in the first half is a pattern, has something to do with my playbook (or game plan), or even the settings I am using.
One thing that I did with Madden 10 was make frequent use of the substitution feature during play calling. This allowed me to make sure that Norwood and Snelling got some touches, not just Turner. I am not sure that Gameflow gives enough variety with player substitutions in formations, so if I am going to continue to use Gameflow, I will probably have to play around with fatigue and player formations settings.
Sticking with Gameflow, and semi-transitioning into AFL mode, using the Houston Oilers (err, Tennessee Titians in throwback jerseys) I racked up 169 rushing yards with Chris Johnson, defeating the original Texans (KC Chiefs) 26-14. This time the Gameflow system called for runs left and right, which seemed appropriate. I really enjoyed the AFL presentation, which is included for free this year after being a premium DLC add-on in Madden 10. I did not pay for the AFL mode last year, so it was a pleasant surprise having it included as part of the base Madden 11 game.
I am sure it has been overdone elsewhere, but kickoff returns are a bitch, and I cannot seem to keep the defense out of the backfield whenever Gameflow calls for a play action pass. On the other hand, I am running the ball well, and screen plays seem to be pretty well executed.
For what it is worth, the CPU has missed several field goals; usually just wide, and a few times off the posts.
I forgot to mention that the Falcons won Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium 24-0 over the Buccaneers. As long as we are talking fantasy, may as well take down the Bucs.
Speaking of the Super Bowl mode, which is really just an option to pick any two teams to play in the Super Bowl, complete with plenty of pre and post game commentary, special (if you want to call it that) presentation coverage, I wish there was a way to setup a Playoff bracket.
My only real complaint with Madden 11 is that once again in-game saves are nowhere to be found; good grief how f’ing hard would that be to pull off?
All for now; more to come.