If there is such a thing as a series that is bulletproof to reviews, the Madden series is probably it.  If you take a look at the Metacritic scores, the only time the series goes under a seventy average review score is when you take a look at the Nintendo DS and Gameboy Advance.  Even when those scores dip lower, Madden still sells.  Since Madden hasn’t had any real football competition since EA bought exclusive rights to the NFL and NFLPA licenses, the only way to play a football game with a current roster is to get Madden.  Each year the title seems to get more and more hype and exposure.  Madden sells no matter what, so reviewing this title might seem to be a bit futile.

 

Since this is a major title, I want to take a little time to explain how I reviewed Madden NFL 10.  Most of the time I spent with the game was with the settings of All-Pro difficulty and five-minute quarters.  These are the settings that are also used for getting most of the Achievements.  I didn’t make slider adjustments for the majority of the time so that you would know what to expect when you pop in the game and decide to hit Play Now.  Most of the time was spent in the single player mode, though I did take some time in the multiplayer.  However, some features weren’t available or weren’t plausible to review before the release date.  It’s a little hard to get 32 people together and play through an entire season in the short amount of time that I had before the embargo date.  My favorite team is the Packers, so I used them for my Season play, but I used several different teams to play for and against in single games to get an idea of how Madden played.  While I do have a serious interest in football and can name most of the major players, I can’t tell you who played Right Guard for each team or who recorded the most interceptions for each team.  I do pretty well on Offense mixing run and pass plays, and while I can hold my own on Defense I am admittedly less skilled on that side of the ball.  With this in mind, I hope you can get a feel of how I approached this year’s Madden NFL 10.

 

The first thing players of last year’s Madden will notice is that you aren’t thrust into the Madden IQ test.  You can still access the holographic training simulation if you’d like.  Here you can find out how well you do on Run Offense, Run Defense, Pass Offense, and Pass Defense.  These tests are actually much simpler than the game as you

Several modes are available for you when you start out.  Exhibition games get you into action right away  The Franchise mode allows you to play through a season or multiple seasons  If you want to truly live the life of an NFL player, the Superstar mode lets you create a player, get selected in the draft, practice, and get into the game.  The Virtual Trainer helps you learn the controls for those who aren’t acclimated to them.  The Madden Moments lets you play through some of the highlights of the 2008 NFL season.  Mini-games are available to get used to the fundamentals of Madden, as well play challenge a friend and their skills.  Finally, the Practice mode allows you to get familiar with a team’s playbook and their timing before you enter into a game.

 

The highlight of the game is the Franchise mode.  I simmed a full season and the scores seemed to be realistic.  Although the scores flash by quickly, so if you are looking for a specific team you won’t be able to catch it.  Some of the player and game statistics seemed to be a bit off when all was said and done.  Just like on the field, the number of interceptions was high while the number of fumbles was low.  All but two teams had double digit interceptions for the entire season. Two teams, the Patriots and Broncos, were 100% in the Red Zone, with the lowest being the Falcons at 74%.  The Browns and the Titans defense in the Red Zone either always allowed a Touchdown or a Field Goal.  Most teams had over 1500 yards rushing, with only two teams having less than 1000 yards rushing.  Simming further out into the future resulted in similar results.

 

For those that believe in the predictive power of Madden, Tom Brady was the MVP and Offensive Player of the year for this season.  The Titans lost to the Colts, the Redskins decimated the Falcons, Steelers upset the Chargers in a close battle, and the Cowboys easily handled the Bears at Soldier Field in the Wild Card Round.  In the Divisional Playoffs, the Patriots slaughtered the Colts, the Redskins squeaked past the Cardinals, the Ravens beat the Steelers in a defensive battle, and the Eagles barely beat the Cowboys.  The Patriots handled the Ravens easily while the Redskins just beat the Eagles in a close game.  The Patriots manhandled the Redskins in a lopsided 33-3 victory in the Super Bowl

When you first start up the game you notice that there are new camera angles used.  Sometimes during a kickoff or before a snap you see the action from the sideline camera.  This variety works well to give you the feeling that you are watching a game instead of playing one.  This is especially true when watching replays

New graphical flourishes are now shown as well.  For special games the USAF Thunderbirds will fly across, and banners for the NFL Kickoff or NFL Playoffs are displayed.  Uniform patches are present during the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, adding a bit more to the authentic NFL feel of the game.

 

The stadiums are recreated accurately from what I can see of them, and you can see the entire inside of the stadium depending on the shot used.  There aren

When you call plays, you can use the Ask Madden feature to get to the typical plays for that situation quickly, or you can call them by formation or play type.  You can also activate something called Super Sim.  You can simulate the next play, up to the next change of possession, to the next quarter, or even to the end of the game.  During this time the field shows arrows that indicate how far the ball has moved and if a score is made.  The Play by Play scrolls underneath, so you can see what is going on throughout the game.  This is a nice feature since it reduces the play time to a matter of minutes.  Each team does have their own playbooks, so if you use different teams, you will need to know their schemes.  You can also change the look of the formation and select your plays from there to confuse the defense.  The playbook is laid out logically, and there are several layers to the system.  It

The action on the field is sometimes great and sometimes frustrating.  There is a lot to like, but there is a lot to hate.  All the basics of football are present in Madden 10, but after a few games it is easy to see the issues that it has.  The first thing you notice on the kickoff is how powerful the kickers are.  It is easy to kick the ball into the end zone for a touchback.  Yes, this can be toned down with a slider, but if this is your first impression of the game and that doesn’t feel right, how do you expect the rest of the game to go?

 

The playbooks do feel authentic.  While you can’t know every play in every playbook for every team, the plays included do seem to be realistic for their scheme.  Even the Packers move to a 3-4 defense is reflected.  A roster update has already been made, so if you want to practice with the right personnel, you need to get online right away.  I’m assuming that roster updates will be made each week as teams move down to their 53-man roster, but we

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