The running game appears to be back. The offensive line actually opens up holes this year. In Madden '10 I literally gave up on being run first and ran a spread. I actually traded away MJD for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd rounders because I only ran the ball 10-15 times a game (in Franchise Mode).
I can't tell you the number of times I had receivers jack up catches because they stepped out of bounds. They had no sense of the sideline, 1st down marker, etc... This year it seems a lot of those problems have gone away.
I'm not sure how I feel about the sprint button being removed. I still find myself holding down R2 (PS3) on kick returns, kick coverage, etc...
Punt returns seem to be easier this year. Kick Returns overall seem a little more difficult, but not bad at all.
EA has been bragging about this feature. It essentially allows the teams' offensive coordinators (ie computer) call plays for you. Play selection is decided on situation (down and distance, score, etc...). I used it on 3 plays, and then went back to the traditional play selection. Maybe if I customize the plays to be more run heavy I'll like it more, but when I'm up 17-3 against Denver I want to run the ball down their throat, not be cutesy and throw a screen.
Want your slot guy to run an out instead of a curl? Get ready for a few delay of game penalties. Madden 11 features the strategy pad. Before the snap use the directional pad to set all the great things that used to be done pretty simply last year. I'm sure I'll get used to it, but if I want my secondary to back off coverage I don't like the idea of having to hit Up, Up, Up, or if I want tight coverage Up, Up, Down...
The Bubbly Interface
It seems like they tried to make everything (in regards to the menus) "pretty". I'd prefer quicker, more responsive menus (especially going through rosters).
It appears very little has changed in franchise mode on the "next gen" platforms. In other words there is a lot to be desired. Madden on PS2 had great franchise features (ability to set stadium prices, revenue streams,etc...). Madden on PS3 is missing out on a lot the PS2 franchise had to offer. I've read that next year Franchise Mode will receive a major overhaul, but that's what EA said last year...
Overall, though I've only played a couple of games, there's not a lot overall that's changed. The thing I'm most thrilled about it the running game. I can't reiterate that enough. I'm an old school guy that likes to run 40 times a game and pass 15-20 times a game. In Madden 10 I threw 30+ times a game.
Overall it's an improvement over last year's game, and I'll give it an 4/5.
I've played Week 1 (versus Denver), and the Jags stadium is EMPTY. Very few people in the stands; I'm hoping that the place will be packed later on in my first season.
The Jaguars roster overall is pretty weak, but young. Tyson has 'A' potential along with Briton and Monroe from last year. Dillard has been downgraded to a 'C' potential. Vinny Manuwai is riding the pine, and has been downgraded to 'C' potential...I wonder if he's done (Vic has made some comments that make me worry).