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Madden 10

 

Madden 10

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Sports
 
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Author:

Developer - EA Tiburon
Publisher - Electronic Arts

Features:

Players: 1-4
Co-op: 1-4
208 KB to Save Game
HDTV: 720p/1080i/1080p
Custom Soundtracks
Online Multiplayer: 1-2 players
Game Content Download
Leaderboards

Ah yes, the sweet smell of NFL training camp is in the air; the first slate of pre-season games have begun; and I have started prepping for my NFL fantasy drafts. This time of year is always filled with anticipation as Week One is only a few weeks away. With that also comes another addition to EA Sports best selling franchise - Madden NFL 10.

Last year, Madden 09 made some significant leaps and I argued it was the best we had seen in the franchise to date. This 'off-season' I questioned whether Madden could make yet any more gains. Well after a few days and several hours playing the game, I must say Madden 10 does make some strides. That being said, Madden 10 plays very much like 09 but with a few more bells and whistles.

Graphics

Overall, the visuals in Madden NFL 10 for the Xbox 360 are very well done and they are once again a strong point for the franchise. It pays great homage to the NFL game with this installment and once again we see some significant strides in the game’s visuals this year. Better overall presentation, more animations, players getting chewed out by the coaches, and a weekly wrap up segment, are just a few examples of how the game is wonderfully presented this year.

The biggest single leap this year is the game’s overall presentation. The addition of a quasi half-time show featuring a broadcast style presentation and a weekly wrap-up show is a nice feature. Using real life NFL Networks hosts are also very cool. The style and look of the shows are simple yet very slick looking, but there is no doubt the shows could use some work and are a far cry from the 2K's abbreviated Primetime segment we saw quite a few years now; however, the game has certainly taken a turn for the better and is headed in the right direction with these segments.

In addition to the improved overall presentation, there are even more player animations this year. Apparently the developers used an all new animation technology and it really shows. Whether it be dragging defenders towards the first down marker or fighting for a fumble at the bottom of the pile, Madden 10 looks so much more realistic. It makes the game less predictable and more enjoyable in the end. There is some repetition but for the most part it's a new experience nearly every single play.

Much to my relief the stadiums and turf both look as good as they did in 09. Granted I did not notice any major improvements, but why mess with a good thing. The game’s environments looked flawless last year, so the old saying "if it ain't broke, don’t fix it” applies here too.

In terms of the negatives I did notice some ugly clipping issues and texture problems. For instance, far too often when the camera would pan on my Quarterback who would be on the phone with the coaches upstairs, the hair on his head would start to do some 'herky jerky' movements. Not a major issue and it certainly does not impact the gameplay, but it merely caught me by surprise as everything else is so well done. The game also suffers from the occasional slow-down but again not a major concern.

Overall, the visuals in Madden NFL 10 are superb and I could go on and on about so many areas in the game where the graphics are great. I have yet to mention anything about the awesome lighting and weather effects, menus, background pictures, slick introduction and themes. You will just have to pick up the game and experience it for yourself.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, Madden NFL 10 is good but it left me with the same feelings I had last year; that being under whelmed. I will start with the positives. The soundtrack is much better this year featuring some old school hits from Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Cypress Hill and Public Enemy. Despite a few rap bands, it is more of a rock oriented soundtrack with quite a few hits from the 1990's. I for one really enjoyed the soundtrack and it was a highlight for me when navigating the menus.

Another positive is the overall sounds of the game which are once again quite amazing. Such things as the hard hitting tackles to grunting from the lineman, all the sounds in the game pack a punch. This year they all seem richer and the game just comes to life that much more. I highly recommend turning up the volume when playing Madden NFL 10 as the 5.1 surround sound is great.

As far as the negatives are concerned, the commentary seems far too repetitive this year and Cris Collinsworth just grates the piss out of me. I find he often comes across as pompous and is a bit of a know-it-all. His voice is like nails on a chalk board for me and I really try to avoid him at all costs come NFL Sunday. That being said, as a team, Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth do a decent job at calling the games and they are arguably the most accurate tandem we have seen in a Madden game to date. But as with any sports game they repeat themselves a tad too much, but I recognize this is par for the course.

Another area of concern lies within the Extra Point highlight package show. The commentary audio in the show seems robotic and disjointed. There really is no flow from the female commentator who recaps the weekly scores and stats. It seemed amateurish, incomplete and rushed. Don't get me wrong I love how the developers included the package but it could have used a few more months in the shop to iron out some of the kinks.

Gameplay

Overall, the gameplay for Madden NFL 10 is once again very solid and enjoyable. It plays very similar to last year’s version but everything seems a tad easier this time around. Maybe my mad Madden skillz are getting better but let’s be real folks; this old dog peaked years ago. If you have played Madden before, scoring points or stopping teams on defense on Pro difficulty is accomplished much easier than I envisioned this year. Last year I recall a tougher game where it was difficult getting the running game going and stopping a good passing team was extremely difficult. The same cannot be said this time around and it was not long into my season where I had to stop and bump up the difficulty. Hence why I would recommend Madden veterans play the game on 'All Pro' and don't even waste their time on the lower difficulties. The Adaptive Difficulty Engine is back and is effective, but if you spread the ball around and keep mixing up your gameplan, you should be able to take your team to the Super Bowl with ease in the standard franchise mode. With all that being said, the question remains: has Madden NFL 10 made a significant leap this year? Well, in some areas it did but the core gameplay remains, for the most part, unchanged.

There is no sense examining some of the features that have been around for years as the core of the Madden gameplay is back, so at this point I will examine some of the new features in this game.

The online gameplay seems to have been given the biggest boost this year. A 2 player online co-op mode is available for the first time in the franchise’s history. But before Madden gamers start celebrating, you should be aware that the co-op mode is not without its share of issues. Don't get me wrong, it is great to play online with a buddy but it does take a significant amount of practice and the finicky camera angles can lead to a frustrating experience. Far too often while on defence a ball would be thrown downfield and the camera would be playing catch-up as the ball momentarily goes out of sight. This may not seem like a major issue but in a game where big plays can happen in a split second, it quickly becomes a problem. There are custom camera angles but finding the right one you can stick with is difficult. There is no doubt that the online co-op is a step in the right direction, but the issues may turn some gamers off.

The Madden 10 Online Franchise is back this year and includes an awesome set of features which only enhances the community feel. Live drafts, player transactions, league message boards, and more features you can shake a stick at are all manageable from not only your console but also remotely through your web browser. There is even an iPhone/iPod Touch Application to manage your franchise. Taking advantage of many of the features is truly for the hardcore Madden online gamer as rookies will simply need to invest a lot of time to get up to speed with the sheer depth of the features. Nevertheless, the Online Franchise has come a long way and all the features are welcome additions.

The franchise mode, which is where I traditionally spend the bulk of my time, features a number of minor enhancements. Most of the enhancements are in the presentation, animation and visuals department which I already alluded to above. Yet, franchise mode does feature a few other enhancements which really add to the experience. For starters, the menus are much easier to navigate with all the week's information right at your fingertips. No longer are the days of bouncing in and out of menus just to look up the rushing leaders. It may seem like such a minor thing, but for a stat hound like me I loved the new revamped menu system. Additionally, some of the gameplay elements like your controller rumbling when a defender gets near you or the interactive "fight for the fumble" pile-ups are nice little additions. The blocking seems a bit more realistic this year and following your blockers in the running game is so critical to your success in the running game. At the end of the day, the franchise mode remains intact yet the enhancements are certainly nice little additions.


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