Madden NFL 10 ReviewOctober 14, 2009
|Game Name:||Madden NFL 10|
|Genre(s):||Sports & Recreation|
|ESRB Rating:||E (Everyone)|
|Demo:||Add to Download Queue!|
Like in any series of things, each Madden has the task of raising the bar from the previous version – despite said bar being, often times, raised unreasonably high. Fortunately, Madden 10 adds enough innovations to warrant it’s label as a noticeable improvement (at least in my eyes) from it’s predecessor. The task to “Fight For Every Yard” … begins here…
I’ve personally never played any game in the Madden series that fell short with respect to visual presentation. The Madden series has always presented a game that, at minimum, was at par with where graphics and sound go relative to the gaming world. This installment did well to live up to that tradition. From coaches wearing weather-appropriate gear to the random shot of the QB about to take over on an offensive drive – the particular detail spent in seemingly the most minute of aspects helps improve a game already known for the most realistic presentation possible. This game even goes so far as to cloud the camera lens with rain or snow, as appropriate, in-between plays. Clearly, this game tries hard to confuse the happenstance wanderer who catches this game out of the corner of their eye to believe that a live football game is on.
Included on the newly-introduced Pro-Tak Animation system, the bone-crunching hits that can be executed with a flick of the hit stick are present everywhere – sounding especially incredible if you’re fortunate to have a surround sound system set up. The soundtrack is chock full of an eclectic array of artists, from 2PAC to Judas Priest; SlipKnot to Nas and others. Many of the songs are a little popular (in terms of tried-and-true hits compared to Top 40) than in previous years – an attempt by EA to appeal to an aging demographic.
Gang tackle. Fight for the fumble mini-game. The Wildcat. These three aspects are arguably the biggest additions to the Madden series, and hopefully they will remain mainstays throughout future versions of the series. The gang tackle – courtesy of the new Pro-Tak Animation System – brings an element to the game that helps recreate what goes on a real football field. One-on-one tackles are still possible, but the introduction of the gang tackle helps reinforce the theme of “Fight For Every Yard.” Watching your running back struggle through 3 or 4 defenders, only to emerge victorious (see: Ronnie Brown) to finish off the run make 3-yard and 70-yard runs exhilarating to watch. Coupled with a “more, realistic ratings system,” the ability of a player to shed these tackles, or carry the pile, depend more on how truly good the player is. Needless to say, ratings are assigned pretty fairly – relying mostly on a player’s reputation in real-life to perform expected tasks. Reggie Bush is going to make you miss more than he will truck you, while Michael Turner is going to run through defenders.
Also new to this game is the “fight for the fumble” mini-game. If a player fumbles the ball near a number of players, a dog pile will ensue. Players are then prompted to mash buttons to simulate fighting for the ball. I’ve read numerous articles that discuss the dirtiness of the dog pile (from eye gouging, to “other-orifice” gouging), and while Madden doesn’t go to too much detail – they capture the essence of it. Dogpiles are a fight, so trying to recover a fumble should mimic that experience.
And if you’re a Dolphins fan like I am, the ability to run the Wildcat is just another testament to how the Madden series adjusts as necessary to capture the real-life evolvement of football. The unbalanced line, complete with the QB out wide, is accurately captured by the game – allowing users to run plays out of the formation that stormed the league a season ago.
Madden has added a number of details along with these three things – but these stand out the most in terms of being able to track substantial improvements. There are also new defensive line movements adjustable by the highlight stick, and the ability to bat balls at the line of scrimmage is an added enhancement that might get overlooked by some – but contributes to the intricacies of the passing game. Staying in the pocket is rewarded more, as it seems defenses are rewarded more with sacks for forcing the QB out of the pocket than in previous installments.
The franchise mode isn’t too terribly different than in previous seasons. What stood out most was the player progressions from season-to-season being more decided by age, potential and prior performance – compared to going through those godawful mini-drills that seemed like a waste of time. In addition, the draft also mimics real-life, as you are able to get steals in later rounds who turn around and have higher ratings than expected. I drafted a WR in the 1st round who rated out in the low 70s, but found an OT in the 4th round who rated out in the 80s. That unpredictably might frustrate some, but it’s probably more accurate than just assigning ratings based on a player’s expected draft position prior to the draft. One minor miscue that I’ve continued to see in successive seasons of a franchise is the improper fact bar for my team. In my second season of my franchise, random facts about the Bears or Bengals would show up – despite neither team being in the game. Seems like there were some bugs that made it out on my copy of Madden – and hopefully they were corrected on other releases.
Online play is not improved by much. It still plays a half-step slow, although it’s slightly improved compared to previous seasons. And the most frustrating thing about Madden 10 is that to play on Elite Status, you have buy the add-on. Sorry, but the game runs for 60 bucks already, and you’re telling me I have to buy more add-ons to play the game on highest possible difficulty? Not exactly user-friendly if you ask me. Madden also introduces the Online Franchise – but I’ve yet to really uncover all the nuances of that option just yet. Online Co-op is also available, and there are achievements tied that option of the game (EA’s way of promoting friendship?).
Overall, this game introduces a couple of new tricks that don’t make it seem like you’re buying a version of Madden 09 that is simply retitled and repackaged. I was truly taken aback by the gang tackle system – and I’m convinced that this should remain in future installments to come. I did have a couple frustrating moments where the game would freeze on kickoffs (of all things, kickoffs!) that didn’t make sense to me. The achievements are also tied to All-Pro status – so no free achievements here (for the most part). Each achievement seems like a legitimate challenge as well, so no pushovers in that respect. Overall, this game provides a lot of content (and not necessarily things you have buy additionally) to keep you busy until next August when Madden 11 comes out.