Madden NFL 10

Madden 10 makes a lot of things easier for you: gone are the days of agonising menu surfing and superfluous training sessions before a regular season game

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EA Games Madden NFL 10
  • EA Games Madden NFL 10
  • EA Games Madden NFL 10
  • EA Games Madden NFL 10

Pros

  • An insane amount of incredibly well-rounded, rock-solid football; awesome online options

Cons

  • Wonky teammate AI; annoying frequency of interceptions

Bottom Line

I was never a big Madden fan but I know that it's an almost religious experience for devote gamers. Madden 10 looks like it's got a decent number of changes and tweaks that elevates it out of "glorified roster update" territory. It sounds like a must have for any digital football fanatic.

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Year over year Madden catches flak for recycling previous content into a repackaged roster update. Madden NFL 10 makes a concerted effort to change that perception with a suite of changes but don't freak out: this is still the same Madden you've come to adore. However, there's a noticeable focus on keeping you actively involved in the game and it's an effort that succeeds in spades.

Slow Ride, Take it Easy

The first thing I noticed was that the pace of Madden 10 is noticeably slower this year. Naturally, you can adjust the settings if the slightly more methodical speed isn't to your liking, but I instantly fell in love with the measured tempo. The chaos of a collapsing pocket and the ensuing panic isn't as immediate, giving you more time to consider your options before firing off a pass. And when the defense inevitably comes rolling in for the quarter back sack, handy controller vibrations alert you to the incoming danger. The adjustment quickly became something I relied on. Being able to focus on finding an open receiver without worrying as much about the split-second paranoia of protecting my player was a welcome relief.

Madden 10 makes a lot of things easier for you. Gone are the days of agonising menu surfing and superfluous training sessions before a regular season game. You're still able to manage the minutiae of your team, and weekly practice sessions are available if you want to perfect your plays but everything is cleaned up to make room for more on-field action and congratulatory ass slappin'. This makes for a more streamlined game experience, especially in the NFL Superstar mode. Bringing your custom-created quarter back through the ranks is much more enjoyable when you don't need to go to a lame practice session before every matchup. You can also sim past plays you're not involved in, which gives you these speedy pockets of intense gameplay. Just make sure you pick a position worth playing-making sweet plays as a wide receiver or QB is infinitely more fun than spiking the ball or repeatedly blocking one spot. The same simplicity applies to Madden's other game types as well. The Franchise career mode centers on the regular season, and puts the player trading, finance managing, and draft picking to the side for the super-hardcore crowd.

No More Loneliness

Along with that fine-tuning comes enough new stuff to squash the stigma that EA Tiburon lazily recycles last year's content. Rounding out Madden 10, and filling the void that fans have felt since the inception of online multiplayer, is the inclusion of an online Franchise mode. Finally! The multiplayer league functions as you'd expect: you play regular seasons with up to 31 of your freakishly dedicated friends with the AI controlling any neglected, vacant teams. Stalking the stats and seeing the results of everyone's week is pretty exciting, and punctuating the discussion of each other's games with uploaded highlight clips adds another social facet to your online career.

If you don't want to stress about dedicating time to a season, the new online Co-op is an awesome alternative. It plays a lot like an on-the-fly NFL Superstar multiplayer variant-you can swap between players at any time, and the camera is much closer to the field. The tension in clearing a route for a clean pass, defending my partner in a rush for the end zone, and working together to coordinate plays is something I really enjoyed.

It's The Little Things...

It's tough to call a sports game with an isometric perspective "realistic," yet Madden 10 inspires a surprising amount of believability. Little touches to the game like botched spikes resulting in an awkward execution of your play, or seeing players stumble or slip in the rain reflects the occasional unpredictability of the sport. Visually, the game shines with a realistic presentation; it also has some spiffy weather effects-there's nothing quite playing through a gruelling game on a muddied field with snowflakes falling all around you.

Madden 10 is still very much a game, though, and it suffers from game-y issues that get in the way of its intended realism. An insane amount of interceptions, often returned for the touchdown, made a lot of the games feel like an extended highlight reel. The pick-six frequency is as agitating as the AI which controls your teammates; sometimes my receivers would run away from a pass, and my NFL Superstar team would make poor play decisions that often resulted in a loss. For instance, my team went for a field goal in the dying seconds of a game while we were losing by four points.

He could go all the way...

But even with the iffy AI and the unrealistic number of interceptions, Madden 10 is still a deeply involving experience. It's also evolved away from previous Madden instalments, focusing your attention on actually performing on the field and making the superfluous details optional. Yes it still is a "repackaged roster update" but it also expertly executes on the new ideas, making for a game that blends the best of the past and the future. It's a damn fine football game and one I highly recommend you try out.

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