Preview: Madden NFL 11 GameFlow makes calling plays a snap

Madden NFL 11
While our Madden NFL 11 review needs another day in the oven before it's just right, I wanted to share my experiences from an early access event EA held last month. For starters: I'm a huge NFL fan. On Sundays, I obsess over my fantasy football team, wear a jersey, microwave nachos and watch guys wearing pads smash into each other for eleven straight hours. Don't ask me to go shopping or meet up for brunch, because any and all such requests will be met with a resounding no and a flag on the play. All games will be watched, stats analyzed and a decently sized butt print will be left in the sofa.

That said, I'm not a smart Madden player. On third and short, I'll throw the ball almost every time, and on fourth and long, I'll go for it like Patriots coach Bill Belichick, meaning: I'll fail miserably. That probably explains why I lose 44 to 14, but hey, I don't have a high football IQ. Throw a playbook in front of me and I'll know which says to pass and which to run, but the intricacies are lost on me.%Gallery-97636% If you're as clueless (read: lazy) as I am, Madden NFL 11's GameFlow feature makes a lot of sense. Think of it as the evolution of Ask Madden, where the computer selects the play for you, based on the current situation.

GameFlow limited the number of times I screwed-up and it helped me score touchdowns ... all two of them.

Essentially, every NFL team has a unique game plan. On second and three, one team might run, while another lines up in the shotgun. EA Sports took all of these stats and fed them into the game, which analyzes various goings on and presents you with "the right call". All you need to do is press the A/X button.

This did two important things, based on my experience with Madden NFL 11. First, GameFlow limited the number of times I screwed-up and it helped me score touchdowns ... all two of them. Instead of dropping back to pass 40 yards when all I needed was one, the game theoretically said, "Hey stupid. Run the ball." I wasn't successful every time (the computer doesn't play for you), but I made significant progress.

Second, GameFlow speeds up games. Rather than digging through the playbook and turning a 20-minute game into a 45-minute snooze fest, using this feature trimmed precious seconds off the clock, something that should please casual players who don't know a nickel defense from a dime. And if for some reason you only trust the computer half the time, you can call timeout and manually select another play. Of course, if you'd rather call the action, press the X/Square button between downs.

At this point, it's too early to say whether this is the next evolution of play calling. For all I know, EA Sports didn't do nearly as good a job with GameFlow and my success had more to do with common sense and a bit of luck. But for now, I just like hitting a button and letting the computer do all the work. You know, like a true couch potato.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.