|System: X360, PS3||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|
by Jonathan Marx
Another year, another Madden. That seems to be the mantra surrounding the franchise. Every year EA puts out an excellent football offering, but never does the series breakout of its well-trodden conventions. Of course you know what they say, if ain't broke Still, there are enough additions and refinements in Madden NFL 10 to make it the best entry to date - maybe not by a long shot, but the best nonetheless. A big reason for this is the development of the much-touted Pro-Tak technology, which certainly lives up to the billing and actually has a significant impact, honing gameplay to an even finer edge. Also, the sheer care that's gone into the creation of the title is readily identifiable throughout.
The graphics are particularly good this year, with even more detail, player-specific animations, realistic crowds, and spot-on gameday ambience. The quick pans to post-play cinematics that capture the emotion of the fans and coaching staff are great, and the slightly out of focus filter applied to crowds actually gives the impression that each individual fan is unique. Also, the pre-game shot of the action outside the stadium brings the feeling of Sunday to life while also getting players ready for the day's weather conditions. Players will be amazed at just how much care has gone in to making this title shine.
There are a couple of things that did annoy me about the presentation this year, however. The new half-time report is far too slow! While I thought it was nice to get the lowdown from across the league during Franchise Mode, I found it to be long and cumbersome whilst playing a pick-up game during Play Now, even though it's actually much shorter than it is in Franchise. Still, I found myself mashing through the shield logo with great consternation when all I wanted to do was return to the game and run back a ball with Hester.
The second problem concerned the voice work. Naturally, John Madden and Cris Collinsworth are perfect, but the duo of Fran Charles and Alex Flanagan, during The Extra Point Show featured in Franchise Mode and during half-time, need a lot of work. In fact, I'd rather they weren't asked back to camp next year. Fortunately, the soundtrack selection seems to make up for it. The mix of solid rock bands with just a pinch of quality hip hop is definitely pleasing to the ears.
Without a doubt, Madden NFL 10 features the best reactive animations in any sports game ever made. Not only do key players move in ways reminiscent of their playing styles, but gang tackles, stiff arms, hurdles, jukes, big hits, blocks, contact over the middle, etc. all look astoundingly fluid and realistic. I never had a problem with players getting stuck in clunky animations - the action on the field always seems to play out exactly how it should.
This is all thanks to the great lengths Tiburon went to while creating their new Pro-Tak animation technology. If you haven't been keeping tabs on this development, know that it takes the speed, weight, and angle of approach of up to nine players at a time into account. That means pileups, scrums, and gang tackles are finally possible and realistically rendered. This technology also has a massive impact on the action at the line of scrimmage.
To me, offensive linemen have always been more or less a wall to try and outmaneuver in previous Madden titles. As such, I've always been partial to making a defensive impact with linebackers and corners in order to get around the obstacle. This year, that's all changed. Selecting defensive lineman and getting a good push with them makes closing gaps to protect against the run a breeze. On the other side of the ball, countering the competition's defense is also natural. Though holes don't readily open up for backs, an honest to god pocket will form around your QB within which you can step up and wait for your receivers to actually progress through their routes in order to pick apart the secondary.