Known as America’s Game, American Football, or as American’s call it ‘Football’, is one of the most watched sports in the world. The season’s climax, the Superbowl generally receives higher TV viewing figures than any other programme in America. As this is the case, it must have a computer game to compliment the real thing. Endorsed by John Madden, one of the greatest American Football coaches and commentators of all time, Madden 10 is the 21st instalment in the primary American Football video game series.
As per the norm, a game can be started pretty much instantly: choose a team to play with, choose a team to play against, maybe change your kit to a late 60′s throwback kit and then the fun can start. Stats for each team are provided on the loading screen, which gives an idea of who has the upper hand on the pitch. Snickers adverts are immediately apparent, cleverly manipulating words to create hilarious alternatives such as ‘statisfying’ and ‘chompetition’.
Once in a game, the graphics are simply stunning with brilliant replications of players and coaches facial features and near lifelike stadia, including the new $1.3 billion ‘Cowboy’s Stadium’.
The gameplay is better than in past years, allowing plays to be executed at any player skill level. The new pro-tak system allows nine-man tackles, with both offense and defense pushing the pack to gain those valuable yards. It is possible dodging tackles and sacks with the touch of a button, and a great addition is the ‘fight for the fumble’ where you have to press the button on screen as fast as you can to attempt to grab the ball when it is loose, although this is a rare occurrence. The blocking system is more effective, although it could still be improved further as on the occasion, three defensemen are let through to sack the quarterback. The right analog stick is used as a hit stick for the defense or for the offense to evade tackles.
American Football is known for it’s complex plays and, although they are all included within the game’s memory bank, it is not necessary to be the most experienced football player to pick up the pad. The game allows the player to amend the finer details such as turning off penalties and as always, Madden will give his tips on which play he would use in the situation, on defense he will generally suggest going for the blitz. All of this means that a rookie can have as much fun as a 21 year veteran.
One of the main advantages of Madden 10 over the last two versions is the change in the way plays are selected. It has been reverted back to how it was in Madden 07 where rather than moving the d-pad to select plays, triangle, x or square are used. This is a great advantage for multiplayer mode as it goes a long way to stop prying eyes ‘screen cheating’ as you can keep them guessing as to which play has been chosen.
As in previous iterations, Madden 10 offers many game modes, such as mini games, virtual training or just normal practice mode. Madden Moments provides a selection of real life situations from the 2008/09 season where an amazing comeback has been made or a defense has held onto a one point lead on the final drive and all the player has to do is replicate this, which is generally just a quick-fire thrill.
Madden Test can be used to supposedly create the perfect difficulty level for your playing skill, giving you a series of tasks on a virtual field, which then generates a difficulty level for Rushing Offense, Passing Offense, Rushing Defense and Passing Defense. Be warned though as if you excel in Madden Test, it can make plays impossible when transferred to the field.
Franchise mode is essentially the same as previous versions, however the usual calendar has been replaced with it now simming between games, which means weekly training sessions have been left out altogether. Franchise mode can be as in depth as you like, allowing you to just play games or tinker with all the finer details of an American Football franchise.
Be an NFL Superstar mode gives you the opportunity to create a player and follow him through his career in an attempt to win the superbowl. A slight disappointment was the lack of names such as Brett Farve and Michael Vick on the rosters, however a roster update is immediately available to amend this, and further updates are surely to follow in the run up to the start of the season.
All in all, Madden 10 is a brilliant game, with improved graphics and gameplay making it more realistic than ever before, however the commentary is still very artificial and needs work. Improved graphics on towels etc are a nice addition as well, but some may argue this is not enough to warrant spending another £40 if you already own Madden 09. This is a perennial problem when you already have a brilliant game in Madden 09.