Madden NFL 10 Review

The Madden franchise, despite its sales success, faces the most criticism year after year. How do you keep your game fresh and new, while at the same time keeping the same fundamental system that fans have grown to love? Last year’s iteration was a step in the right direction, and fortunately for football fans, EA Sports and Tiburon kept on the same path. Madden NFL 10 is a great football game, both for the seasoned Madden vet and the new-to-the-franchise crowd. There’s enough new content to keep the fans happy, and enough of the old to allow new players to get in on the fun as easily as ever.

The gameplay is where the classic Madden feel comes into play. The play system has remained virtually unchanged, from the play-calling, to the execution, to everything in between. Audibles can still be set just as easily, all of the pre-play controls are still simple, and the actions while running the plays are all done the same way. The one major change to the gameplay is the game speed. Madden 10 slows the game down, so players have plenty of time to think about what they’re doing next. I didn’t mind the extra time to think, but seasoned Madden vets will notice the decrease in tempo.

One thing I was really happy with was the team rating system. The highest overall team is rated 93 (the New England Patriots), which actually makes sense, considering their real-life counterparts in the NFL. No team in the league is worth anywhere between 97-99, as no team is truly perfect, and Madden 10 finally agrees. This adds a lot more realism to the games, as the Patriots and the Steelers don’t run over other teams as easily as they used to.

Speaking of realism, I’m also a huge fan of the new camera shots that have been added. Before one game, I saw a group of fans grilling in front of their trailer in the parking lot. After a couple of plays on defense after throwing an interception, I saw my quarterback on the phone with the booth talking strategy. During a particularly close-to-the-goal-line tackle, I witnessed two refs run up to each other, discuss a play, then raise their hands for a touchdown while nodding to each other. Real instances in football, conveyed just as they would be on TV, were happening while I was in control. It’s little things like this that can help a player feel completely immersed in the enviroment, and Madden 10 does them well.

In order to convey this realism, the game has to look and sound good, and boy does Madden look good. Graphically, this is the most impressive football game ever made. Breath coming out of the players’ mouths in the cold, water splashing during a tackle on a wet field, even precipitation on the camera when the camera looks toward the sky: everything not only looks good, but looks natural, as if it were real. The faces of the players are becoming more and more true to form as well, as Donovan McNabb had his trademark skull cap and full lips while talking to the booth as mentioned above. Players celebrate and yell at the crowd during big plays, and you can almost read their joyous lips. The fans even look better than ever, not as pixelated as past games. The jump in visual quality might be the most impressive thing about this year’s game.

Madden 10 sounds good too, but it sounds just like last year. The crowd noises are the same and the commentators are the same (damn you Cris Collinsworth!). The only difference is the soundtrack in the menus, which is GREAT. Personal highlights include “Sugar” by System of a Down, “Walk” by Pantera, and “Painkiller” by Judas Priest, but other tracks include “Can’t C Me” by 2Pac, “Shut Em Down” by Public Enemy, and “Breed” by Nirvana.

As far as what’s new, two major additions come to mind: the Pro-Tak animation system and Online Franchise Mode. The Pro-Tak animation system allows for the down-and-dirty football tactics: gang tacking, dragging defenders for extra yards, fighting for a fumble in the bottom of a pile, etc. The new animation I’m most thankful for, though, is the ability to throw a pass away while being hit. In previous Madden games, QBs would tuck the ball in far too fast when under pressure, something this year’s game remedies very well. No longer will you lose yards to a sack almost automatically, you can now save the yards and throw the ball away.

Online Franchise Mode is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Like its brother in sport NCAA Football, Madden 10 finally takes its successful Franchise mode online, where friends can meet up and play online for simulated years on end. Salary caps, free agency, the NFL draft, it’s all there.

All in all, Madden NFL 10 builds on last year’s goodness and turns it into greatness. With the new animations and features stacking on the old, successful standards, football fans and video game fans will be very pleased with Madden this year.


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Author: Jason Fanelli View all posts by
Jason lives and breathes gaming. Legend tells that he taught himself to read using Wheel of Fortune Family Edition on the NES. He's been covering this industry for three years, all with the Node, and you can see his ugly mug once a week on Hot Off The Grill.

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