Madden Kicks Off Football Season

EA Sports' Madden NFL 11

It’s that time of year again – EA Sports’ Madden NFL 11 came out last week to mark the end of summer and the start of football season. This year’s cover features New Orleans Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees, so we’ll see if the “Madden Curse” continues with him. (For those of you who don’t know, the Madden Curse seemingly causes whoever is on the Madden cover to be injured the year the player is on it.)

While there are no drastic changes to the Madden experience, this version of Madden is by far the best. At first glance the graphics improvement is apparent. While you’re playing it, it’s almost as if you’re watching a live NFL broadcast.

The mantra for Madden NFL 11 is “Simpler, Quicker, Deeper,” and the first two (Simpler, Quicker) refer to the game’s biggest addition, GameFlow. This new feature allows you to pick plays as an NFL coach would and cut a full game time down to an average of 30 minutes (a typical Madden game was previously 60 minutes).

By matching plays to situational game plans, plays can be picked automatically for each down, or add a new level of strategy by creating and customizing your own offensive and defensive game plans. CoachSpeak allows you to listen to your coach as he calls in the play from the sidelines based on your favorite team’s tendencies. You can play this through a headset or your TV’s speakers, depending on your setup. The text also appears on your screen if you prefer to turn down the audio.

The third part of the mantra, Deeper, includes 3-on-3 Online Team Play. This is basically a cooperative mode as you and up to five friends can each control a squad of skill players: Quarterback, Running Backs,

Wide Receiver/Tight Ends on offense, and Defensive Line, Linebackers and Defensive Backs on defense. This collaboration makes the experience a true team sport.

The game commentary is now by Gus Johnson (replacing Tom Hammond), and Cris Collinsworth provides his Emmy-winning analysis. Overall, it’s another great Madden, but there’s just something about the game (that I can’t quite pinpoint) that makes it seem unfinished. Perhaps it was rushed out the door too soon, or maybe it’s because of the few quirks. Otherwise, make sure to do the online play because that’s where the “real action” is experienced!

Madden NFL 11 is rated E for Everyone and is available for the Xbox 360 and PS3 for $59.99, the Wii for $49.99 and the PS2 and PSP for $39.99.

Find it at your nearest Best Buy (bestbuy.com), GameStop (gamestop.com) or on Amazon.com. Also visit easports.com for more information on the game.

iPhone 4/iPad Cases

iPhone 4/iPad Cases

Instead of my usual “App of the Week,” I have to share the latest iPad and iPhone 4 cases I found.

At the initial release of the iPad and iPhone 4, finding a good case was difficult for both. There are quite a few out there now, but I always enjoy the quality and look of Speck cases. For the iPad, prices vary from $24.95 to $49.95. Models include the SeeThru Satin, SeeThru, PixelSkin, CandyShell, Fitted, ShieldView (screen film), PixelShield and PixelSleeve PLUS. The iPhone 4 models include Fitted, CandyShell,

PixelSkin, GeoMetric, PixelSkin HD and ShieldView (screen film), and prices start at $24.95. Visit www.speck-products.com to see detailed product information and pictures. clickchick@midweek.com www.click-chick.com

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