Madden 11 to Explore the Difference Between Simplified and Easy

Two videos and some screens released today give visual context to Madden NFL 11's "Gameflow", described in Totilo's preview yesterday, and other features that designers say will halve the amount of time required to play a game.

Play-calling gets a big streamline and not just within Gameflow, the new mode in which an offensive coordinator is calling the plays and advising you on their execution. Game planning gets a tweak, too, more than just setting audibles; you can rate plays according to situational need and see them come up in those circumstances, as opposed to sifting through the more than 300 plays available in numerous formations and packages.

Locomotion is showcased with Gameflow in the second video; this to me looks like an attempt to stretch out running plays and make them more exciting, rather than the vast majority of them locking up in a tackle animation at first contact, contact that is difficult for most to avoid under the old control set.

The rest of the screens give us a freeze-frame look at those concepts, plus one not mentioned - the new kicking window.

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If the playcalling in Gameflow is indeed authentic I'll be thrilled with this. When they talk about the Saints throwing eight consecutive passes, I'm the kind of guy who would worry that calling that was either unrealistic or exploitive. But I'm not going to study two dozen teams' game plans, so offloading that to the game, if executed well, is great. The problem is the play-calling AI in EA Sports' football singleplayer modes has been horridly rigid and boring to date. This is going to have to be very deep to get good marks, and we can't tell from just a few minutes of video.

As for running, game time, etc., these are the kinds of things they've worked on improving, in some fashion, for years. Yes, it's nice that they get that players don't want siloed versions - a training wheels family game here, a tailored AI experience there, etc. But a lot of us have heard this sort of thing before, just expressed differently. Madden's pitching itself as reinvented, yet again, and will really need to live up to that claim.