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Madden NFL 10 Review

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Developer: Electronic Arts Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: August 14, 2009 Available On: PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

Every year the football loving gamers of the nation wait with baited breath for that special day in August. In fact, many businesses lose a few workers for a day due to the launch of this one game. Only one title has the power to diminish the workforce, and sell millions of copies of essentially the same thing, every single year. Do I even need to name it? Not really, but fine…for the sake of the noobie to the game world, it’s none other than Madden. And this year, it is Madden 10.

It doesn’t matter what kind of gamer you are, chances are that you have played Madden at one point in your life. It’s a great pick up and play game and that is especially true in this year’s iteration. While I was hesitant to think that I would enjoy the game, I was pleasantly surprised by the added features and playability options. The game has been refined to appeal to both the casual and hardcore, and given the game’s fame, there couldn’t possibly have been a better move on EA’s part. Adaptive AI, a new animation system that really lets you take control of the play’s outcome, and by far the smoothest gameplay yet make this quite possibly the best Madden title ever.

Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice about this year’s Madden is that it plays considerably slower than last year’s offering. From my understanding, this was to make the game easier to get into for more casual players and gives the hardcore a little more time to think when under pressure. Not only that, but in my opinion, it adds an extra little layer of realism to the already near spot-on gameplay.

The controls have remained pretty constant over the years. I did notice that the highlight/hit stick is a bit more responsive than usual, but then again, it may just work better with the new updates to the animation engine. I did have some trouble, mainly in online matches, with getting passes off. It sometimes takes a few presses of the receiver button, regardless of the pressure by the defense. I’m sure this was just some intricate realism thing that I didn’t pick up on, but in those heated online rivalries, it can get annoying and downright bothersome.

The graphics have been improved slightly, which is the norm for a yearly released game. I actually enjoyed the soundtrack for once, which, for me is rare in a sports title. There is a pretty good mix of rock and metal and a little rap, which is a pretty good mix-up and good for getting you pumped up for some football. One thing that is lacking, obviously, is John Madden. The commentary is kinda boring and repetitive, and I honestly think it’s because of his absence due to his retiring.

There are no lack of game modes in Madden 10. Exhibition is always good for a quick pick-up game either alone or with friends, and the multiple mini-games are a fun challenge giving the game a little variety from the normal gridiron gameplay. And yes, the Madden virtual trainer/IQ test make a comeback due to the huge popularity in ’09. If you want a real challenge however, “Become A Legend” mode will definitely put you through your paces. On my playthrough, I chose to be a runningback, namely James Davis from the Browns. I had more fun doing this than creating my own because you start with all the skills, and don’t have to worry about advancing your player. The Madden team worked hard to capture each player’s skill set, as with James Davis (i.e. his ability to run over defenders and break tackles while maintaining a pretty decent speed). It was just like watching him in his college days again.

Season mode is actually pretty deep and will make you waste hours just trying to set up your perfect team. I drafted and traded all the former players from Clemson that I could (in the end, about 6) and ended up taking my team (Buccaneers) all the way to the Super Bowl, only to be unceremoniously stomped by the Steelers. To my defense, they actually have Polamalu on their team. I was not able to access the Online Franchise mode because of the extra money needed to actually activate it (800 Microsoft Points/ $10 USD on PSN), but I have heard nothing but great things about it. EA did do a cool thing this year with downloadable upgrades. For a nominal fee, you can buy upgrades and “power-ups” for your players to really give you a boost in the game, but come on, it’s Madden! Where’s the fun if you just buy your way to the top?

The all new Co-Op mode is a great idea, but is disappointing in its delivery. It is basically “Become a Legend” for two players. One player (the host) is all-time QB on offense, and the other player can choose what position to play. Luckily, on defense, the players can choose freely who to play as. The problem with this is that vision can be very hard. You sometimes have to call out, “Hey throw to Y, I’m open even though you can’t see me.” While I guess the same can be said with real football, this extra difficulty can be frustrating and incredibly hard to master. It does make you work together, just not in the good way. I look forward to the improvements they make on this mode for next year’s game, because it really has the potential to be awesome.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Madden 10. There are certain plays that are way more powerful than others, so it’s a little hard finding the correctly balanced defense. Then again, that’s the problem with real football as well, so no harm no foul. I can’t believe I’m saying this, seeing as how I’m not a sports gamer, but Madden 10 is definitely worth a purchase for anyone that is even a slight fan of football. It is the best yet and I can’t believe it held my attention for as long as it did. Despite the problems I encountered, this could be just as fun of a party game as Rock Band. It is definitely better than any pre-game show you could find on TV. Congrats EA, you turned a skeptic into a believer.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 8.8
Written by Evan Wilson Write a User Review