Madden NFL 11 is a touchdown for the iPhone, iPad

Aug 10, 2010
Games

EA Sports’ Madden NFL returned to the iPhone this week (and also debuted on the iPad).  While the game shares many similarities with its console counterpart it, there are enough wrinkles in its playbook to make it feel a lot different. Most notably, while the console version of the game has exclusive NFL rights, the […]

EA Sports’ Madden NFL returned to the iPhone this week (and also debuted on the iPad).  While the game shares many similarities with its console counterpart it, there are enough wrinkles in its playbook to make it feel a lot different. Most notably, while the console version of the game has exclusive NFL rights, the iPhone app has competition.

But more on how the game stacks up to the alternatives later. Madden NFL 11 by EA Sports ($7.99 for the iPhone and $12.99 on the iPad) is a great sports title, and a clear step forward for the series.

That last part is important, as Madden NFL has often been criticized for releasing the same game year after with an updated roster. This year, the inclusion of the Game Flow feature as well as a revamped defensive side of the ball make this an improved game.

You may have heard about the Game Flow feature, the big addition to both the app and console versions of the game. It’s not as necessary on the iPhone – games are typically shorter as quarter lengths are at max seven minutes – but still a nice option for those who hate flipping through playbooks.

The feature picks plays for you and displays it before your team comes to the line, with options to choose another play or turn off Game Flow at any time. I’ve used it almost exclusively since picking up the game, and I have a feeling it will be a hit with gamers.

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As for the changes on defense, Madden NFL 11 now allows you to draw hot routes on defense similar to the way you could do so on offense. A favorite feature of mine from last year, the slow motion button, also returns on both sides of the ball.

The offense remains largely unchanged aside from Game Flow, though there does seem to be an improvement in the passing game. With Madden NFL 10, it seemed much too easy to get a receiver’s icon green (meaning he’s open). In the current title you’re required to be much more patient and selective, though on the easier levels you’ll still complete just about everything.

Like many new games, this one is optimized for the iPhone 4’s retina display. Having said that, the game is a pleasure to play no matter the device. In addition to the expanded 9.7-inch screen size, the iPad version offers HD graphics and a more immersive experience.

The game modes also remain unchanged, as you can either play an exhibition game, play through a season or try your hand (and thumbs) in the playoffs. Multiplayer mode is back, though like last year it’s only available via Bluetooth.

Madden NFL 2011 vs. NFL 2011

Of course what many gamers want to know is how the game compares to Gameloft’s NFL 2011, the other NFL licensed iPhone game. While last year the competitor’s games were quite similar, the gap has widened this year in Madden’s favor.

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The biggest negative with NFL 2011 is that the game just doesn’t seem realistic; that’s not to say Madden NFL could be labeled a true simulation, but it does depict a typical football game more accurately.

The EA game also has more team management options, such as the ability to trade players. Graphically, the games are similar and I still enjoy NFL 2011.  I just enjoy Madden NFL 2011 a lot more.

The final verdict

While plenty of things about the game have been unchanged, there are enough new twists to make this feel like a new game. Even better, last year’s title cost $10 when it was released. Paying two dollars less for an improved game won’t hurt anyone’s feelings.

The bad news is Madden NFL 2011 still doesn’t compare to the console version. While it’s unfair to compare the two, when companies like EA use the name recognition from console games for their apps some will inevitably make the comparison.

And though you won’t be choosing to play the app over the Xbox game, there’s something incredibly cool about having a full, officially licensed 11-on-11 football game on your phone. Given the improvements, the price drop and sparse competition, I strongly recommend the latest version of Madden NFL to any sports fan.

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David Lister

David Lister is a freelance writer in Chicago. He is a former editor and writer at the NationalSportsReview.com and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. 

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