Game Review: Madden NFL 10 (PS3/XBox360)

maddenboxA lot has been said lately about the Madden franchise stagnating, and even more has been said about EA’s new committment to breathing fresh air into the series.

I got my hands on the latest installment, played a bunch, and now… I’ll give you my impressions.

Full review, after the break.

If you’ve played an NFL licensed game in the last 5 years, it’s been Madden. There’s no other game in town.

Every August, fans of American football rush out to pick up the latest game, check out the roster updates, the graphical updates, and the handful of new features EA Sports throws at the game. Many of the features don’t work properly and will be tweaked or discarded next year.

It’s become a never ending cycle, with precious little new to show for your $60 investment over last year’s model.

This year introduces Pro-Tak, a new tackling system (animation and AI) that allows for up to 9 player ‘gang’ tackles. It also means that linemen react more realistically and if your defender is outclassed while tackling, he has a chance to honestly slow the offensive player enough that help can arrive.

Pro-Tak changes the game in fundamental ways. In the past, I used to run the ball a LOT. Offensive linemen could rarely protect the quarterback long enough for me to set up a decent pass (yes, I know… I’m not that good anyway), and it was pretty easy to bowl over a tackler with a strong running back… giving you a good chance of breaking a long run every time you touched the ball. Now, offensive linemen seem to be doing a better job protecting the quarterback, and with defenders gang tackling things have gotten a lot more difficult for running backs.

This year Madden includes an Online Franchise mode that allows players to create leagues… nice. Thank you.

Also included is an Online Co-op mode. Yeah… let’s just say this one needs to cook a little longer. Maybe it will be worth playing in Madden 11.

It seems to me that the annual graphical boost took a different approach this year, focusing more on animations, and the little touches that sell an experience, rather than higher fidelity, nicer textures, or screaming framerate. Players and coaches argue convincingly on the sidelines, television replays look fairly realistic, and the crowds have been improved.

I’m not sure if this is entirely a good thing, anti-aliasing on the game is HORRIBLE, with jagged lines and ‘crawling ants’ making the players appear to have been shot on public access television chromakey.

In the end, the gameplay is solid and nearly everything works the way it’s supposed to.

If you’re already a fan of Madden football, you should pick it up. If you haven’t played in a few years and you’re looking to get a ‘fix’… yeah… you should pick it up too.

It won’t amaze you, it won’t change the way you play games, but it does what the franchise manages to pull off every year: improve JUST ENOUGH to get you to buy it.

Buy Madden NFL 10 (PS3)
Buy Madden NFL 10 (XBox360)

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