The hype over Madden 10 has settled and it’s time to look at it with a clear head. Many critics of the series (myself included) said Madden is more or less the same year after year. That’s arguably true for previous iterations. But Madden 10 introduces a bunch of tweaks and features that separate it from the old games as the franchise steps in a new direction.
Let’s start with the brand new stuff. The much ballyhooed Pro-TAK feature is a buzz word for new gang tackles. It’s a well made addition and looks great when you bombard the offense in the backfield and in short yardage situations. On the other side of the ball you have “Fight For Every Yard.” Players can use the controls on the right analog stick to break through tackles depending on the ball carrier’s stats. It serves as a nice counter in one-on-one occasions. While players break tackles on all difficulties it happens far too much on anything under All Pro. The game is also slower on default. I never liked Madden’s break neck speed so it’s a nice touch. The new pace reminds me of the good ‘ol days of NFL 2K5, but you can turn it off if you choose.
EA also added the “Eat the Clock” feature which cuts the down time between play calls and the moment teams set up at the line. It makes the game go by quicker and forces players to have better clock management skills. It’s also it harder to call audibles if you took too long to call a play in the first place. It’s an optional setting unless you play on All-Madden. These additions along with revamped stats for quarterbacks and nice visuals are the most noticeable on the field.
The franchise mode is pretty standard fair. You go through pre, regular and post season (if you make it) and manage your squad each year. It has a decent setup but it took a step backwards when it comes to player progression. I had an injury scare with Brandon Jacobs early in the year. Ahmad Bradshaw is only a 73 so I searched for some kind of practice mode to get his stats up. No dice. Instead, EA opted to incorporate the Madden Shop when it comes to player development and other features. You buy stat boosts and instant injury removal perks among others for $1-$2 each or buy them all in a pack for $10. If the Madden shop isn’t your thing the game will simulate a player’s progress with a potential rating ranging from A-F. The higher the grade the better he’ll get by season’s end.
Hardcore fans might get a kick out of the new online modes. The new online franchise mode lets you and some friends do an online draft, play weekly games and manage your team from your computer. Keep in mind that online franchises are free in new copies of the game. If you’re one of those that buy a used copy at the end of the season you’re S.O.L unless you cop it from the Madden Shop. The new online co op mode forces you to play from a certain position and limits your view of the field. It’s like playing a cooperative superstar mode if that makes any sense. Online play has some hiccups but it’s not too bad. Of course you can still play against your friends at home the old fashioned way.
Most Madden heads probably made up their minds when they bought the game at launch. But it’s a pretty good football game for those on the fence. It has its quirks and I could do without the Madden Shop. Nevertheless, everything comes together and makes Madden 10 one of the better games in series history.