Madden NFL 11 Review: For the Love of the Game

I love football.  I’m a die hard Steelers fan, with my second choice going to the New York Jets, mainly because of Mark Sanchez.  I just recently watched the Hall of Fame game when Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, Russ Grimm, and plenty of others were inducted into the Hall of Fame; the Cowboys also trampled the Bengals 16-7.

And if you can’t tell already, I’m a hardcore football fan.  On my Xbox 360, Madden is my most played game.  So when it comes to football on the iPhone, I’ve been a little let down by offerings such as NFL 2010 from Gameloft and Madden NFL 10 from EA Sports.  But with a new year approaching, both companies have released their respective titles.

But focusing on Madden NFL 11, I would have to describe it no more than one word: disappointing.  The GameFlow system is actually quite amazing, the graphics make my eyes burn, and the Hot Routes are an added improvement.

But once you get past the looks and feel, you get a game that’s still lacking a play clock (you wind down a couple of seconds then the clock just stops), a game that still consists of horrible animations, and a ridiculous All-Madden difficulty level.  On top of that, other parts of the game just don’t seem realistic at all, such as Nick Folk missing two extra points in a row, Ladainian Tomlinson starting over Shonn Greene, and defensive backs making unneeded, diving interceptions.

A sluggish framerate and UI just add to the mountain of small and large issues I had with Madden NFL 11.  There’s a lot to love about Madden NFL 11, but there are still some glaring issues that make this a disappointment.  Always next year though, right?


Graphics: This is the most noticeable thing above anything else.  The iPhone 4 Retina display makes the game one of the best I’ve ever seen, and while the player models aren’t too impressive (still the same from last year), the detail is absolutely breathtaking.  The audience actually has some depth behind it, the grass is more detailed — everything about it is wonderful.  I had huge gripes about the graphics in Madden 10, so I’m glad to see that they’ve upgraded them significantly this year.

GameFlow management: This type of game feature is for both the hardcore and the casual.  I found it quite useful for just playing the game without having to sift through plays.  The plays that it chooses are quite accurate: the Jets ran over 75% of their plays as running plays.  The integration into the game is all quite smooth, and it’s available after each play along with telling you what play will be called.  It’s an ingenious feature by EA Mobile, and this is one feature I’m mightily impressed with.

NFL Receivers: Last year’s Madden NFL 10 had some of the worst receivers I have ever seen: footballs would bounce out of their hands almost 80% of the time.  There were only specific pass plays that would work, while others didn’t work at all.  This year, the balancing has been improved with more accurate QBs (I’m assuming) and more high-flight receivers, and most of them make the catch if it’s reasonable.


Lack of play clock: Where’s the play clock?  Is there even a play clock?  It’s almost ridiculous how it’s hidden, and I’ve actually had the game tick down from 3:30 to 2:41 without any penalties, then the clock just stopped ticking down at 2:41.  Another time I received a delay of game penalty… with no play clock in sight.  Can someone tell me what’s going on because right now, I’m in a state of utter disbelief.

Animations: Yeah the graphics are great, but the animations are the same, poor animations found in Madden 10.  Actually, the whole game feels almost the same even with the graphical update: the UI is still the same, features are more or less the same, and the animations are absolutely horrible.  You have running backs crossing their legs to dodge a linebacker, receivers spinning like ballerinas after making the catch, and tacklers going through a player… literally.  When your running back is dragged to the ground, he’s dragged almost three or four yards before reaching the floor.

Framerate/UI: The user interface is sluggish.  Pressing a button doesn’t feel smooth, and at times, I have to tap a button and hope it registers.  It’s also the same UI used in Madden 10 with a different font, which is quite disappointing since I didn’t exactly like the UI last year.  The game as a whole just feels sluggish, from scrolling through the playbook to running the play.

Pass interference: Way too many pass interference calls.  The referee obviously needs to chillax and stop called eight pass interference calls in one game, heck one quarter.  If you’re not familiar with pass interference calls, it means that the offense gets to move up wherever that call was (usually 20-30 yards up the field), and they receive a first down.

All-Madden difficulty: The All-Madden mode is plain ridiculous.  Maybe they made it that way so that players won’t say the game is “too easy”, but this is borderline just ridiculous.  Without the ability to see the whole field, you have no clue if the defense is in man, Cover 2, Cover 3, Prevent, etc.  There are no color indicators to show if your receivers are open or not, and even if you have the league’s best offensive line (i.e. the Jets), the defense just happens to get through the line and sack you almost 85% of the time.

Madden NFL 11 is the best football game in the App Store only because there’s only one other competitor: NFL 2011.  And both have their respective, overabundance of problems.  Madden NFL 11 just feels way too sluggish and choppy, even on my iPhone 4, and the UI is still the horrible, unresponsive UI found in last year’s game.  The animations are still absolutely terrible, the play clock situation is absolutely absurd, and I look at this game in total disbelief.

I’m not saying it’s not fun; no, I’m actually having fun with it.  But be aware of the many problems Madden NFL 11 entails and don’t believe the screenshots on the App Store: it feels almost the same as last years.  But hey, if you’re  a diehard football fan like me, there’s no way you’re not picking this up.

Madden NFL 11 was developed by EA Mobile, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $7.99.

About Daniel

I have been an iPhone game addict ever since the NES emulator came out on the 1.1.4 iPhone 2G. After 2.0 and the App Store came out, my iPhone homescreen has never been the same. Other than writing reviews for App Store games, I play soccer/football, American football, volleyball, and golf. I love going to the beach and fishing on the pier. Some games not available on iPhone/iPod Touch that I truly love are the Call of Duty series, Guitar Hero III, Madden NFL 09, and PGR: Gotham Racing.

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