Jeff Markiewicz On August 31, 2009 at 7:56 am

Welcome back to another year of Madden NFL Football. On the field we have another outing of this classic franchise but will this year bring another winning season? A renewed vigor for authenticity and presentation take the forefront. An increased emphasis to bring what makes a televised game great into the game. Will they succeed in taking the football down the field or will they get stopped short of the touchdown?

Churning like waves in the sea, last year’s features get pushed underneath to make way for the new year’s thing. Last year it was accessibility with the Madden IQ and the ability to rewind plays. Now there is no longer a test given and you can adjust the difficulty in sliders if you so choose. There is still the option to rewind plays but it’s no longer the forefront. The new focus is on authenticity and presentation.  The developers strived to recreate everything you see on the television when you watch. The pace of the game has slowed down slightly from last year’s edition and it feels great. The quarterback can no longer succeed by running back 20 yards to make a crazy pass. He now has to step up into the pocket for protection. When he becomes under threat, the controller will rumble to let you know. You now have the option to accelerate the clock which automatically sets the 10 seconds instead of having to play clock management and slowing the game, especially online. The injury system is now also more accessible so when a person gets injured, you’ll usually get the option to keep them out under the risk they will get hurt worse. But not everything is perfect. The nano blitz is back and more prevalent than ever. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a blitz that takes advantage of poor AI so they can get to the quarterback super quick. The pursuit AI has also supposedly been revamped but they will consistently run right behind the runner.  A new fumble system has been implemented which is a button mash fest for the ball, which gives you the panicked frenzy for the ball. But usually the game has given such an immense advantage to one of the players; it’s pointless to even try. The gameplay has definitely been tightened up but some issues persist and some new features aren’t up to snuff.

What you see on television is not just the core football game though. There is much more. Now when you select your team, you’ll be able to customize the uniform right then and there. When the game starts, it starts just like a real game you’d be watching on television. You get nice visuals of outside of the stadium and people tailgating. At half-time you’ll get a short show and in franchise mode, you’ll have the Extra Point show which gives you the lowdown on your game as well as what else is going on in your franchise world. Unfortunately the host will pop up visually for only a couple seconds and it goes straight to scoreboards and a typical nearly robotic voice going over them.  Sometimes during the game you’ll get an instant replay which has a nice intro and end cap that looks great. When close calls happen on the field, the chain gang will come out or the sideline/end zone refs will make a call. But just like on television, you usually already know the call and the short load to bring them in just slows down the game. A major effort has been made and attempted to replicate what you see during a real game on television and successes have been made but it’s still not where it needs to be. The scoreboards during the game don’t match the style and quality that other elements of the game has, it’s almost like they’re so good they just make them look like crap. Overall you’ll like the new additions but wish it was taken up a couple more notches.

When you take the show onto the internet, you can expect to finally see a 1:1 recreation of the single player. You can now play a fully implemented franchise mode that you can go toe-to-toe with 1 to 31 of your friends. A commissioner, basically a moderator, helps keep everything go smooth. He or she will simulate the games you don’t have time to play but can also hold things up for when you have a chance to play. If you can’t jump onto your console every day to keep the wheels spinning, you can manage online from a web browser and soon (not yet released) an iPhone app. Another big addition is cooperative play. Join another friend on the same team and fight it out in a harmonious union. Unfortunately it requires precision and patience to pull off because you now have to run plays and sometimes the defense isn’t the most thrilling to play. The largest issue with online is lag. If there is lag, you’ll find yourself in a slideshow of your guaranteed loss. And for that guaranteed loss, your opponent will at least be able to shorten your pain and offer mercy which is a neat feature, even when there is no lag. But it’s still Madden and when you get into a good game, you can be on cloud nine with glee and when you’re getting your butt kicked, you’re in the depths of hell. Plus now you have franchises which really takes it up a notch.

An authentic football experience must always include the look and Madden 2010 did not skimp on this aspect. The largest improvement you’ll notice is the animations. You’ll now have up 9 players taking part in the fight for every inch and it looks awesome. But it’s not just the big picture; the little guys have been improved as well. The quarterback will have subtle evade moves if the pocket collapses and the receivers will jump up and crumble like a potato chip when hit hard by a defender.  Not all the animations are perfect though, the sideline staff will be as stiff as petrified wood during actual gameplay but they do show up close calls need to made and it looks good but it takes too long for them to get moving. There is a couple seconds long black screen as you wait for them to get out on the field breaking the flow of the game. Just loading into the game can be a little long. For some reason, even online, you can customize your outfit and that takes a couple seconds to load plus a decent length load into the actual game. It’s not terrible but it’s noticeable. Another large aspect is the new presentation. Everything has been pumped up to the next level. But when watching the intro video for the replays and the Extra Point show sets a tone and style that even the games on-screen scoreboard can’t touch. You’ll appreciate the new stuff on the field and you’ll like the ideas for off but there are still things needed to be done to reach the final vision.

One of the iconic aspects of football is the life and sounds of the game. The roaring crowd echoes throughout the stadium gloriously, especially if you have a 5.1 system. The crunch of a hard tackle sounds great as ever and now combined with the new animation system is amazing. The commentary system has more unique phrases than ever for specific players but still gets repetitive as quick as usual. And now will make inaccurate statements pretty frequently unfortunately. The music selection this year is a bit more mature and there are some epic orchestrated pieces for during the game. Once again the core elements are done in a fine manner but the accessory pieces aren’t up to snuff.

Madden keeps it’s consistent pace of improvement. 2010 brings more presentation and authenticity than before. The games slower pace makes the game a little more tactical. New gameplay features like rumbling when a defender is near and having to step into the pocket will be loved. The new replay system keeps a log of every play in the game and offers cool camera angles to relive past glory. But a weird zoom on the quarterback ruins the first couple seconds and they are only limited to 10 seconds long so some invariably get cut off.  The online franchises were a long time coming and if you have enough friends, can be a ton of fun. The integration with the Madden website and soon-to-be iPhone app are great additions. Lag can be a problem, especially since it causes the frame rate to drop considerably. The new animations bring even more realism to the game than ever but don’t look to the sidelines because the quality drops off. Plus loading noticeably slows down the game from letting people customize their uniform before every game and the sideline crew coming out to make calls you already know in addition to just loading into the game. Whereas the sidelines may not look cool, the roar of the crowd is impressive. The announcer is adequate but will say things that are completely wrong and gets repetitive after a while.  Madden struggles to make the touchdown but nonetheless succeeds with the implementation of online franchise, improve animations, and the crowd sound effects. There are still some issues but the core gameplay has never been better.


Authenticity and presentation take the forefront. The gameplay has been tightened up considerably and slowed down a tad to great effect. Madden has never felt better but still some issues persist. The nano blitz is still too effective and the pursuit AI is constantly off. The presentation additions are nice but it’s almost a victim of its own success in which the new highly polished elements make others look not up to snuff.


New animations make the game feel more real than ever but all the extras didn’t get the same treatment. The sideline crew stands static until they come onto the field and when they do that there is an awkward load. A nice gloss of an improved presentation graces the game but some effects don’t hold up to the style and tone they set.


Pull out the 5.1 because it’s worth it alone for the awesome crowd sounds. Adds a great sense of realism to the game. But as usual the announcer still falls short. He frequently gets calls wrong and gets increasingly repetitive over time. Clearly better than last year but still room for improvement.


Madden struggles to make the touchdown but nonetheless succeeds with the implementation of online franchise, improve animations, and the crowd sound effects. There are still some issues but the core gameplay has never been better.

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