The one game that fills the void of the NFL offseason for football fanatics each year has arrived with yet another installment. Prior to Madden 2009, many, including myself, viewed the franchise as a game in transition, as if it were trying to find itself. Tweaking gameplay mechanics each year, sometimes for the best and sometimes for the worst, EA continued to drive this game down an unknown path.
Yes, QB View was a good idea on paper, but altogether a giant mistake. But through this transitional phase, Electronic Arts Tiburon has truly gone back to the roots with Madden 2010 and polished the game into a well-rounded, enjoyable title. It’s one I can finally safely say I will purchase each year as long as they stay on their current path.
Yearly released titles bring with them a huge amount of pressure, more so with sports games than any other genre. As the reboot of the franchise, Madden 2009 set the bar pretty high, but it’s the new features that will consistently bring avid football gamers back into the world of Madden. Because of digital downloads and updates, roster revisions are not enough to warrant an upgrade from the previous year. Enter two of the best features to grace Madden in the past five years: online franchise and the Pro-Tak system.
Online franchise is a long overdue feature that Madden fans have been itching for. The mode has been designed around an extremely successful fantasy football system. Players are able to take full control over their team and execute each game online. With the opportunity to create a custom league to your liking, players can pool together with up to 31 of their best friends or join a public league. As a result, players are provided with one of the most addicting features Madden has ever provided.
One addition that makes this mode stand out is the Madden 10 online franchise website, which allows you to manage your team, initiate trades, check stats, standings, etc. And for those iPhone owners out there, a soon to be released iPhone app will allow you to manage your online franchise on the go. But whether it is a custom fantasy draft league you are looking for or the opportunity to mold your favorite NFL team into the next Super Bowl contender, EA Tiburon has provided you with all the tools necessary to succeed, enjoy, and keep you coming back for more.
Features, such as online franchise, are nothing without the realistic gameplay mechanics that Madden strives to perfect each year. One of the biggest updates to the realism and gameplay is the Pro-Tak system. In years prior, tackling was decided by a set criteria that would warrant a set motion capture animation to follow through with a successful tackle. The Pro-Tak system delivers realistic tackles, as players can now break through tackles, push hard for that extra yard, or be gang tackled by multiple players. At times, the breaking of tackles can be a bit unrealistic, but more often than not, this addition provides a more realistic and exciting feel.
Through the Pro-Tak system and the slowing down of the game, the run game has become a necessity rather than an afterthought. This creates a much more realistic need for a balanced offense, as years prior, Madden football heavily favored the passing game. Similarly, for once in the 21 years that Madden has been around, I finally find myself playing smarter football rather than smart Madden football.
This quickly became evident to me as I switched my Philadelphia Eagles from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense and became dependent on stopping the run at the line with one of my linebackers. It also serves as a perfect defensive scheme for pass rushing, but with the new “ability” for quarterbacks to lob the ball in almost any sack situation, the sacks just don’t seem to happen as often as one would hope. But such a switch is actually becoming a big trend in the NFL this year, as more and more teams have been moving to a 3-4.
Despite the fact this was a smart football switch, it was also a smart Madden change, as improvements to blocking upfront and the aforementioned slowing down of developing plays generally requires a run to be stopped at the second level. So the gameplay mechanics are still far from perfect but nonetheless superior to last years.
The NFL was graced with more and more wildcat formations in last years NFL season. And this increasingly popular formation has now found its way into Madden 10. A formation that can kill a defense is if the runner breaks to the outside quickly, he then becomes a fantastic way to frustrate a contender. Fortunately for the defender in such a situation, the flaws in downfield blocking become an advantage to the defense.
Downfield blocking improvements is without a doubt the number one gameplay mechanic that should be refined for next year. Often times downfield blockers make some questionable approaches to blocks. For example, in some situations the defender completely disregards an obvious defensive-man to block. A thorn in the offenses’ side at times, but something that can be dealt with by using a good timed juke.
Keeping with the theme of smart football versus smart Madden football, EA has done a fantastic job of upfront blocking providing a realistic closing pocket. This brings the player to properly track down receivers quickly, stick within the pocket, and not give the opportunity for the quarterback to easily rollout and open up the field for rollout side short passes. It is quite evident that this was an approach at fixing Madden 09′s issue of quarterbacks having no problem rolling out to execute a pass play with ease.
And it has without a doubt been greatly minimized, which once again adds to the improvements to realistic gameplay mechanics. I must say though, I miss my cheap, semi-automatic touchdown U-Drive quarterback rollout play to the number two receiver downfield on a post pattern.
Outside of online franchise, offline franchise, superstar mode and the new online co-op mode will keep you playing this game for months on end. Offline franchise allows you to approach a franchise from a full hardcore approach to a simple fun sim, which proves to entertain any type of gamer. Superstar mode, made popular in NHL 09, allows you to take a player from his rookie season to retirement.
But it was online co-op mode that I had the highest hopes for. It proves to be quite difficult at first, but it can be a ton of fun if you and a friend are willing to invest the time. Unfortunately, because it puts you in the shoes of only one player, it will not improve your Madden skills outside of co-op.
Graphically, Madden 10 proves to offer the best presentation yet, as it brings you into the game with newly added fans, referees, and line judges. As neat as these additions are, it becomes extremely annoying as any play one yard before or after the first down marker will activate a cutscene with the line judges and referees. Touchdowns are the same way as referees join together to decide whether the player crossed the end zone. More often than not, either situation is obvious and these cutscenes take the player out of the heat of the game for a couple seconds. Other than the minor annoyances from these new additions, EA has outdone themselves with this installment of Madden.
Madden NFL 10 is headed in a direction that I have dreamed of since I left Madden for the 2K series way back when. I will never again look back to those days and neither should you. If you have found yourself shaking off the Madden hype the past couple of years, now is the year to stop.
The presentation, gameplay, and replayability are everything a sports title should provide. EA’s NHL series may have met its match this year for sports game of the year. With online franchise, the Pro-Tak system, and gameplay mechanic improvements, gamers, whether hardcore football simulator addicts or casual gamers, will find themselves enjoying Madden 10 more than ever before. Keep up the great work EA!
Some of the most realistic and visually stunning graphics for any sports game to date. Although the fans, referees, and line judges were a neat addition, it took away from the game far too often.
|How does our scoring system work?|
Gameplay mechanics, although not perfect, have moved in the right direction. Improvements to the run finally stress balanced offense. Modes such as online co-op still have some work to be done.
The soundtrack took a step in a different direction and the commentary is, yet again, a huge disappointment.
Offline franchise, online franchise, superstar, and online competitive modes all deliver fantastic replayability.
Greatly improved gameplay mechanics make it a long lasting gridiron enjoyment. Overall Madden NFL 10 is a step in the right direction for the series and well worth the upgrade from Madden 2009.