Madden NFL 10 Xbox 360
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
The Madden NFL series might have got off to a slightly disappointing start on the current generation of consoles, mostly thanks to a lack of game modes, but ever since Madden NFL 06 on the Xbox 360 the series has gone from strength to strength. Madden NFL 10 doesn't represent the same jump in quality for the series that the last few versions have. If anything it's more of a consolidation with a few new additions, such as the online franchise and Pro-Tak animations, to freshen up the experience.
The single-player modes don't offer anything Madden NFL fans haven't seen before. You can jump straight into an exhibition game by choosing Play Now, take on a variety of scenarios from last year in Madden Moments, play the usual mini-games, a practice game or have a go at the Virtual Trainer in preparation for taking the Madden Test to see how good a player you are. Those looking for more in-depth experiences can opt for the Franchise mode with their favourite team or put themselves in the shoes of a rookie (or custom player) in the Be an NFL Superstar mode. The modes are as solid as ever and the Franchise mode is easily capable of keeping you occupied until it's time for Madden NFL 11.
Whilst the single-player modes aren't anything that you won't have seen before, this isn't the case with the multiplayer modes this year. Madden NFL 10 offers an Online Co-op mode and more importantly an Online Franchise mode. The Online Co-op mode allows two players to team up against the AI. It works quite well but the camera angles aren't always ideal and at times the camera feels sluggish meaning you won't have a great view of the action. The Online Franchise mode, which can last up to 10 seasons, is definitely the main attraction here as it allows for up to 32 players (empty slots can be filled by AI players) to compete in a fully functional franchise mode. There are some limitations however. The AI doesn't seem able to refuse any trades (you can turn AI trades off if you feel it to be a form of cheating), there are no salary caps and no free agency which does harm the experience a little but nevertheless it's great to see an online franchise mode and what's here does work reasonably well.
We said earlier that the single-player modes aren't much different but there are some presentational aspects and some adjustments to the actual game-play that help to freshen up the experience. The game's Franchise mode has received some presentational polish. There's a weekly recap show entitled The Extra Point which gives you the highs or lows of your franchise over the week. The games are presented in such a way that make you feel as though you're experiencing a TV broadcast and it's certainly an interesting twist even if it doesn't add anything to the way the game plays. A rather more substantial addition to the game is the new Pro-Tak (procedural tackling) animation system. Pro-Tak allows for three to nine-man tackles and steerable tackles. It also means that quarterbacks can break out of sack animations and dynamic fumble pileups, amongst many other things, are now possible. The tackling, and the physics involved with it, are more realistic than ever and this makes the overall experience more satisfying.
There are a few problems with Madden NFL 10. The number of interceptions made during a game seems disproportionately high. I don't think I've ever made as many interceptions in a single game in any of the previous Madden NFL games (and I'm certainly not what you would call a skilled player) and this is definitely something that should be sorted out with a future update. AI players do run out of bounds far too often. This odd AI behaviour is annoying because in other ways the AI definitely seems sharper. The bulk of the game's new presentation is simply useless for deaf gamers because it's not subtitled so you won't able to experience The Extra Point weekly recap show or comments made by players, spectators and presenters which is unfortunate.
Graphically, Madden NFL 10 isn't a big leap forward but there have definitely been some improvements and it is definitely the best looking Madden NFL game to date. Player models (including their helmets, gloves and uniforms, which can now be mixed and matched) have been slightly improved but it's the quality of the animations that really help to improve the look of the game. Thankfully the frame rate is mostly fine although there are a few instances where a dip is noticeable but it certainly doesn't harm the game-play in any way.
As we've already mentioned, the speech in the game isn't subtitled which means you'll miss out on the commentary and presentation of The Extra Point show. Ask Madden comments are not subtitled and neither are the half-time reports. The opening video isn't subtitled either. Thankfully, none of this is that important and you won't have any problems enjoying the various single-player game modes (voice communications are used in online games) as all of the important information is shown visually. During a game you're notified of injuries, game decisions and shown drive summaries visually. Whilst there are omissions then, there are no real obstacles to enjoying the game.
Whilst it would certainly be an exaggeration to claim that Madden NFL 10 is a vast improvement on last year's game, it has to be said that the improvements on offer here do make for a more satisfying experience. It's still not perfect however and as we've mentioned above, there are still areas of the game that could be improved. That said, it's the best Madden NFL game to arrive on this generation of consoles and an essential purchase for fans of what is arguably the most important game in the whole EA Sports range.