|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||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: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
May 16, 2009 - Tiburon and EA are working hard on Madden NFL 10, trying to make this version the best yet across every major platform. Unlike most years, Madden NFL 10 will bring with it a host of important upgrades that should be game changing. Whether you plan on picking the title up for the tested PS2, the next-gen juggernauts, or the family-friendly Wii, Tiburon may surprise you with just how different this year will play.
I know it may seem like Madden hardly changes from year to year despite developer claims to the contrary. However, this year may in fact be different. Comprehensive upgrades to tackling, blocking, and gameplay are likely to revolutionize the franchise.
Most importantly, the creation and addition of Pro-Tak technology to the game will have a major impact on how the game is played. Pro-Tak is short for "Procedural Tackling." Whereas previous Madden NFL titles only allowed for three players in on a play at one time, Madden NFL 10 will allow up to nine players to get in on the action. This is a first for any football franchise, and it should capture a lot of realism and strategy. You see, football often produces a lot of gang tackles and scrum-like clusters of players fighting for every yard. In fact, Senior Producer Phil Frazier has stated that the mantra for this year's effort was "Fight for every yard!" As such, players will now be able to use the momentum of their tacklers or blockers to push the ball-carrier backward or forward. Not only is this hyper-realistic, it also leads to some incredible gameplay enhancements.
For example, because of Pro-Tak, offensive and defensive lines will perform more sensibly than ever. A player's O-line will no longer be unrealistically pushed back, forcing the QB to retreat several yards. A true pocket now forms around the QB, allowing players to micro-adjust their position rather than flee backwards. In fact, players will even be able to step up in the pocket to evade an edge rush or deliver a sizzler underneath. Also, momentum is a huge part of the game now. For instance, players will be able to direct and guide blocks to the inside or the outside, giving the QB more time or opening up strategic holes for their running backs.
Of course, the more realistic physics don't just apply to the offense. Players can now force the pocket to crumble around the quarter back under heavy pressure, stuff holes more readily, and even push lineman into the QB. Additionally, when a ball comes loose, a fight to recover the fumble will ensue. Fighting at the bottom of the pile is just part of football, and now players will be able try and strip the ball into their possession before the refs are able to make a determination.
As of right now, it appears all the physics incorporated into Pro-Tak are not perfectly calculated, but the team at Tiburoin is hard at work accounting for player mass and contact speed so that gang tackles and pile ups are perfectly lifelike. Regardless of where the physics are now, we're confident that EA will get it right by the time launch rolls around. However, we are a little nervous that gang tackles and scrums will become so prevalent that it will almost look like an animation or seriously slow down the game's pacing.
Moreover, the new fumble mechanic sounds interesting, but it could be incredibly abusive, resulting in a broken game. After all, while it is possible for someone to win control of a loose ball at the bottom of a pile, typically the one who initially dives on the ball is the one who comes up with it. Really, we can only hope that these new, potentially revolutionary additions are implemented in Madden NFL 10 in a polished, not haphazard, way. Otherwise, these innovations may feel like an obnoxious gimmick rather than an upgraded, more realistic feature set.
In addition to Pro-Tak, Madden NFL 10 will feature expanded online modes and options that will deliver "the most comprehensive online offerings in franchise history." A little vague, we know, but here's hoping. Also, the Franchise Mode - the option that lets you mange every facet of a franchise like areal GM - is supposed to be greatly enhanced. However, specific upgrades to the mode have yet to be clarified other than an around the league highlight show that lets you keep tabs on how other teams and their players are playing. Finally, Madden NFL 10 is even more visually stunning than its predecessors. From screen shots and trailers, it's apparent that this Madden is almost too realistic. Further enhancing the graphics is the all-new "TV broadcast-style presentation" that is supposed to bring more drama and cinematic energy to the gameplay experience.
The development team for Madden NFL 10 seems downright giddy about the quality of their football offering. Certainly they've gone above and beyond trying to make it a completely fresh and refined experience. Of course, we'll have to wait until we get our hands on the title before making a final judgment, but we are nonetheless encouraged by what we've seen so far. Check back for our hands-on impressions during E3 2009, and then again for the final review when it launches on August 14th.
CCC Editor / News Director