Review: Madden NFL 11 (Wii)August 10th, 2010 | Written by Danreb Victorio | Topic: Reviews, Wii
Madden and the Wii; it’s a match made in heaven. The Wii is the best-selling console in the United States, and Madden has always been the best selling sports game for quite a few years now. Year after year, EA Sports has done what they can to make the Wii version of the game stand out, and this year’s entry stands out once again, with emphasis being put upon what’s arguably the most important mode in the entire series.
Madden NFL 11 on the Wii marks the return of the game’s wildly popular Franchise mode. Not that it was previously gone, but in order to play through Franchise mode in Madden NFL 10, it had to be unlocked. Those patient enough to find out how they could begin Franchise Mode played a very dry version of it, so it’s easy to see why the Franchise Mode has become a point of emphasis on the console (which is strange, considering the Franchise Mode was hardly even touched with the HD versions of the game).
Redone from the ground up, Madden 11’s Franchise Mode takes a more interactive turn. After choosing your team, you’re met with a very small city with nothing but the biggest expectations for your chosen NFL franchise. You’ll immediately be compared to the greatest of all time, and the only way to meet expectations is to win and be profitable. As you get more and more successful, the city grows more prosperous. While this may seem a little too SimCity, it’s a great addition that adds more of a video game feel, and that’s the exact audience EA is trying to hit anyway.
Right off the bat, you’re given three assistants who will make an impact on your legacy. One is a hard-nosed blue chip kind of dude who cares about nothing else than the performance of your football team. Another is a crazed fan that cares about nothing but the fan support your team is getting and the last is a white-collar businessman who only cares about the money. Each of these folks will have random agendas for you to follow with every passing week, and satisfactorily completing them will earn you big points for your city. These folks are all accessible through various buildings you in your city. In typical Wii fashion, all you have to do is point and click, and it’s smooth sailing from there–except for the really long menus where you have to waggle the controller or aim down.
Getting back to the action on the field, not much has really changed mechanically. If you haven’t had the luxury of playing Madden on the Wii, this is the passing game in a nutshell. Passing is done through two methods, point and click, or the more arcade-like stick tilting. The point and click is the more simple of the two, but it is also the most annoying to perform, especially if you’re too close to your TV. All you have to do when passing is point the cursor at your intended receiver and swing your arm in a throwing motion while holding the A button. In Arcade mode, instead of pointing, all you have to do is tilt your stick in their proper direction like so, and then a swing of the arm. The swing adds “realism” to the game, but it’s also a bit tricky because you’re still using the control stick and nunchuck to maneuver your players.
Those who have been following our HD coverage of Madden should know by now that the biggest new feature is with its GameFlow playcalling system. While it also makes its debut on the Wii, it’s nowhere near as detailed or interesting. Unlike the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of Madden, the coach won’t talk or give you any pointers about the chosen plays, and the audible adjustments are a lot more complicated with the Remote and Nunchuck combo. When pressing B to ignore GameFlow, you’re limited to only a handful of plays, making the whole experience feel shaved.
While the GameFlow system in this version of the game turned out to be nothing more than a glorified “Ask Madden,” the developers did a good job raising the game’s production values. Thanks to the efforts in field degradation, the weather in the game actually matters. Rainy and snowy games feature mudholes as well as players slipping and sliding all over the place, and the messed up fields will cause players to have less control of their lateral movements. On top of this, EA swears hundreds of new animations have been added, giving the game a more authentic feel, even with its arcade-like visual style.
The game’s online component is a mixed bag. Not too many people were on the servers when we last took the game online, so we didn’t run into any slowdown or lag. Of course, if you want to play the game with a friend, you’ll have to go through Nintendo’s friend code nonsense, which takes more time than it should. But for those who simply want to go online and find a pickup game, players should have no trouble automatically finding an opponent using the game’s search feature. But if last year’s was any indication, it might take a while due to the possibility of low traffic with the Wii’s Madden servers.
It’s a love or hate opinion, but the character models in Madden NFL 11 are a good change from the overly buff players that people are accustomed to seeing in video games. Those who can get over that fact will find a pretty good-looking Wii game. It’s nowhere near the visual representation of its HD brethren, but the developers did do a fine job at recognizing what strengths they had with the hardware.
As far as the sound goes, it’s actually quite good. With a soundtrack featuring a bunch of NFL classics and some of Ozzy Osbourne’s best, this is the best Madden soundtrack to ever come out. College hoops veteran Gus Johnson, who usually is always over-the-top with his exciting play-by-play, does the commentary in this game. Unfortunately, his role seems quite reserved because it’s nowhere near as exciting as anyone would hope. Throw in the fact that Cris Collinsworth is still in the game, and it’s another reason to cover your ears.
While it’s by no means the defining game, Madden NFL 11 on the Wii is simply solid—nothing more and nothing less. The game is a joy to play, and the new Franchise Mode is something that should keep armchair quarterbacks busy for a little while. And because it’ll only keep players busy for a little while, it’s easy to see that the game still suffers from being overly casual. It’s a point that was made against last year’s game—there’s no reason why EA shouldn’t be supporting the Classic Controller or even the GameCube controller for use with the game. Not only would it increase the game’s overall value, but it would also give football fans who only own a Wii more of a reason to stick with the series.
Score: 6.8 | Recommendation: Rent It
Verdict: It’s the best football game on the Wii. Unfortunately, that isn’t saying much.