I've been surprised to read comments of some discontented gamers online, writing nasty things about the new "Madden NFL '11." I'm not talking about critics; critics love the game.
But an incensed minority of gamers complain the offensive line isn't working properly. (They're wrong about that.) They say if you run play-action passes, you'll get sacked too much. (Wrong again.)
They gripe "Madden" is geared mostly for casual gamers or for football fans - as opposed to hardcore gamers. (That's true.)
Me? I say this is the best "Madden" in two years. The offense is tight. The defense is strong. You don't throw interceptions or fumble all the time, as in some previous "Maddens."
And you can exploit the usual bonuses, namely, you can compete against other gamers online. You can play exhibition games. You can create teams from scratch and play through a whole season.
Once the real NFL season gets under way, the game will update its teams by importing statistics. So if your team gets better or worse in real life, so too will your virtual team.
Top Ten New Games
Here are the Top 10 best-selling video games, based on Amazon sales charts. Games are listed by title, company, gaming system, and rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Most games are priced $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PSP; $30 for DS and PS 2.
1. "Halo: Reach (Microsoft)" Sept. 14 pre-orders for Xbox 360; rating pending
2. "Madden NFL '11" (EA) for Xbox 360; also available for PS 3, Wii, PSP, PS 2; rated "E"
3. "Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty" (Blizzard Entertainment) for PC; rated "T" (blood, gore, language, suggestive themes, use of alcohol and tobacco, violence)
4. "Super Mario Galaxy 2" (Nintendo) for Wii; rated "E" (mild cartoon violence)
5. "Chrono Trigger" (Square Enix) for DS; rated "E 10+" (animated blood, mild fantasy violence, suggestive themes, use of alcohol)
6. "Madden NFL '11" for PS 3
7. "World of Warcraft: Cataclysm" (Blizzard) winter pre-order for PC, Mac; rating pending
8. "Metroid: Other M" Aug. 31 pre-order for Wii; rated "T" (blood, violence)
9. "The World Ends With You" (Square Enix) for DS; rated "T" (fantasy violence, mild language, mild suggestive themes)
10. "Call of Duty: Black Ops" (Activision) Nov. 9 pre-orders for Xbox 360, PS 3, Wii; also available for PC; rating pending
(Ratings: "E" for "Everyone"; "T" for "Teen"; "M" for "Mature 17+")
My few complaints are fairly fixable. When you turn the game on, the game makes you choose (during every play from scrimmage!) whether you want to let the computer's artificial intelligence to pick your play, or whether you want to open your playbook and pick each play, yourself.
That is ridiculously cumbersome. However, it took me only about 20 seconds to click a button in the menu options to remove that lunacy. I've not had to deal with it since. Problem solved.
I don't like that "Madden NFL '11" adds more button-pushing to every down for those of us who change our receivers' routes at the line of scrimmage. But it's not a huge woe.
I agree with complainers that, essentially, this is almost the same kind of "Madden" we've been playing for years.
That means I know how to manipulate the game. I change receivers' routes constantly on offense to score with abandon. On defense, I move inside lineman to the outside and blitz them, confusing rival quarterbacks into throwing too quickly.
Thus, I can win games by scores of, say, 45-3. OK, that's a little easy sometimes.
What's being overlooked by "Madden" haters this year (and I've been a "Madden" hater in the past), is how many options you get.
The sprint button is gone, but you don't need it, because this "Madden" has better run-blockers. At any rate, you can turn the sprint back on in the menu options.
That's true of other attributes. You can, for instance, turn the "Rewind" button (a do-over) on or off.
I think haters are upset because either: A) they're bored with "Madden," because it is akin to every contemporary "Madden"; or B) they're angry at Electronic Arts for charging gamers $10 to compete online if they play a rented or borrowed copy of "Madden."
I understand their frustrations. I feel the haters. I'm just glad I'm not one of them this year.
("Madden NFL '11" by EA retails for $60 for Xbox 360 and PS 3; $50 for Wii; $40 for PS 2 and PSP - Plays very fun. Looks great. Moderately challenging. Rated "E." Four stars out of four.)
Doug Elfman is an award-winning entertainment columnist who lives in Las Vegas. He blogs at www.lvrj.com/columnists/Doug_Elfman.html.