Madden NFL 10 Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2 | PSP
Madden NFL 10 box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP Review Rating Legend
Dev: EA Tiburon 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: EA Sports 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug. 14, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

In the past, attempts to bring hardcore sports gaming to the Wii has been met with abject failure. Traditional baseball and basketball games have mostly been disasters, whereas simpler, more casual games have been hailed as excellent works. And even EA's well-received Wii Madden titles have been at their best when shying away from the Madden series' roots as realistic simulation football. Therefore, it seems like a no-brainer that with their newest installment, Madden NFL 10 Wii, EA would embrace what has been successful in the past and bring Wii gamers a casual football experience that is best for group gaming.

Madden NFL 10 screenshot

For the most part, Madden 10 is a great success and a model that most other sports games on the system are likely to follow, but it's not without its faults. However, if you can overcome those, you'll be treated to one of the best sporting experiences on the Wii this side of Wii Sports.

The first thing you'll notice is the obvious graphical departure from the other versions of Madden released this year. The characters are now all very exaggerated and cartoonish-looking. For instance, wide receivers are all skinny to the point of being practically emaciated. The style very much resembles that used in a lot of modern day children's cartoons with big shoulders and skinny legs. Instead of forcing the Wii to try and display visuals of the same quality of the graphical juggernauts PS3 and 360, they created a whimsical art style that is less demanding on the console. It's a great solution to the problem of being pitted against systems that are obviously capable of much more. Plus it's just one more way EA tried to make sure this game wasn't intimidating to newcomers.

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EA obviously put a lot of effort into making sure this is a game that will be fun to play with a group of friends over, but some of the attempts fall a bit flat. This is most apparent in the showdown mode, where up to four players square off in different games to determine who is the best at Madden. When four players are present and only two are playing in a game, the other two players have the opportunity to bet on matches in certain ways that can earn them points even when they're not playing. For instance, players can wager on who will get the most passing yards, or the most field goals. At first glance this sounds like a great idea, but it's a bit half-baked, really.

Madden NFL 10 screenshot

There's not much you can do to keep someone entertained by watching other people play a video game, and this does little to assuage that. The attempt is admirable, but the task is simply impossible. One of their better attempts to promote camaraderie between players is the "benching" system which takes place in the Road to the Super Bowl mode, which allows four players to seamlessly jump in and out of a season. Taking a hint from the classic party game, Rock Band, if one player starts doing very poorly, the game will penalize, and "bench" that player. Players still on the field have to attempt to get their friend back into the action.

The potential for co-op gaming is great, and this mode is great for that, but it becomes painfully obvious very quickly that this is a very shallow season mode. You can only pick from full season, half season, and playoffs only variants. And in those small seasons there are no trades, training camps, or anything else to take away from the games. The gameplay is fun, but everything gets old with time, and without anything to break up the action this becomes tiresome quickly.

Madden NFL 10 screenshot

In another attempt to up the fun dosage for party-esque situations, they've included "game changers" to the showdown game modes which dramatically shift the focus of the game. For instance, you can turn on the "fumblitis" game changer which means that every time a ball carrier is tackled, he will fumble (up to three times).

Screenshots / Images
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