Review: Madden NFL 10 (PS3)

Madden10Review

Title: Madden NFL 10
Format: Blu-ray Disc
Release Date: August 14, 2009
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Tiburon
Original MSRP: $59.99
ESRB Rating: E
Madden NFL 10 is also available on PlayStation 2, PSP, Xbox 360, Wii and iOS.
The PlayStation 3 version was used for this review.

To say that I love (American) Football is probably an understatement. I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers, and have had Season Tickets for about 7 years. A Packers home game is a weekend event for us, and it’s tough to find a time that I was ever happier than when I am at a game. Along with the love of the game is the love of playing Football on various game consoles throughout the years, from the Atari 2600 all the way to the PlayStation 3.

I’ve played these games for years, but I have never excelled at them. That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the experience, but I wanted to make sure that anyone reading this knows where I am coming from. Even playing the game online yesterday reminded me that no matter how much I play the CPU, no matter how much I play online, I’ll never truly be “great” at these Football games. (Although, NO ONE can defeat me at Cyberball on the Genesis, or Football Frenzy on the Neo Geo.)

The folks at Tiburon have done an exceptional job this year, and overall, have made a MUCH better Football experience than in past iterations. A couple of the changes and omissions are points of contention with the die-hard fans of the Madden series, but in my opinion, they’ve definitely made improvements in almost every area.

madden09

Visuals:
Madden NFL 10 is the best looking Football game made to this date. The brand new procedural animation system is closer to perfection than they’ve ever done, and the textures are sharper and more colorful than anyone has ever seen. Gang tackles actually look right, and except for a couple of instances in the referee scenes, I haven’t seen any real clipping yet. Hair flows in the wind, towels hanging from the belt move realistically, players don’t make 90 degree turns on a dime, and snow on the ground reacts to footsteps, and the list just keeps going.

Are the visuals perfect? The answer is no. There are still instances of stuttering (not as much as before though.) Also, when camera angles switch, you’ll see what is either textures not loading quickly enough, or a glitch in the new depth-of-field system. It doesn’t last more than a second, but it’s weird nonetheless. Also, I guess I find it kind-of lazy that all of the players on both sidelines all have “00” as their player number. Are these major problems? Not by a long-shot. The visuals are truly revolutionary, and definitely not the minor upgrade that a lot of people expect from year-to-year with this series.

The stadiums look much better than in ‘09 as well. After comparing the two, not only do they look even more accurate, but they have much more detail, better color and depth, and the crowd even looks better.

mad10 ps3 pro screenshot 1

Audio:
There are 2 items to discuss with the audio in Madden NFL 10, the announcers and the actual sound effects and soundtrack.

After hearing that atrocious “Radio Announcer” for a few years, the addition of actual NFL personalities was a welcome change last year. We are joined by Tom Hammond and Chris Collinsworth. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of Collinsworth, so I was happy to find out that he was in the game again this year. They both keep up with the game for the most part, although there are occasions where they say something that really isn’t right for the situation at all. (I may be spoiled by the commentary in MLB 09 The Show though, as that’s insanely close to perfection.) Having the commentary definitely helps to pull the player into the experience, which anyone can find out by playing the demo, which is devoid of any commentary at all.

The actual gameplay audio, however, they nailed! The sounds of the stadium have never sounded so good in a video game, especially if you have full surround sound. You wince as a crushing blow sounds like someone just cracked a rib, you get goosebumps when the crowd goes wild after a interception is returned for a touchdown, and you get nervous when the stadium gets eerily quiet when you have a 3rd and long situation and you’re 4 points down. I’ve been to many NFL games in my life, and I’m telling you, this audio package is incredible.

The soundtrack, which I normally don’t pay much attention to, is wildly different this year. Normally the soundtrack is full of wuss-rock and Hip-Hop, both of which really aren’t my style. But this year, they really switched things up, even adding Iron Frickin’ Maiden!!! You still have the option to toggle individual songs on and off, so you can listen to what you want.

Presentation:
This will be a bit short, as I always consider Presentation similar to Visuals. You can choose from 3 Cameras during Gameplay, Normal, Wide, and Zoomed. For a widescreen display, I can’t recommend the ‘Wide’ view enough. It gives a great view of the field, but it can be a bit tough to use with some running plays until you get used to it. I’ve found it much easier to hit receivers on a Quick Slant than in previous years. Other than that, the player will get pretty-much the same stuff as before. Highlights at halftime, stats and info dynamically inserted throughout the gameplay. You’ve seen it before and it’s quite nice to have overall.

madden10

Gameplay:
Control-wise, not much has really changed this year, and that’s a very good thing. The new play calling screen is pretty nice, and feels much easier to navigate. Also, for 2-player vs games, they’ve done a nice job of letting you hide which play you’re choosing. You can still hit ‘Select’ to call a time out, and on the PS3 version, you can use the motion controls to fake a hike by pulling the controller up, and it works surprisingly well (You can opt to turn motion controls off.) They’ve also slowed the action down by 5% from last years game, and that little bit actually helps quite a bit. I’m hitting my receivers better, and my running back is driving the open spots in the line with more efficiency. There is a setting in the Options to speed the game up however. The initial setting is ‘Slow,’ but I bumped it up to ‘Normal’ for testing and it plays great at that setting as well.

Everything about the core gameplay just feels better this year. Making a juke, a stiff-arm, a hurdle, squeaking through a gang of linemen, pumping the legs to get out of a gang tackle to tack 20 more yards on, it’s all there finally. I still can’t believe that I broke-free in one instance, and doing so netted us a touchdown. Hits look more realistic, and hence more painful, and the players actually look like they’re interacting with the field instead of being positioned on a pole with a pivot-point shoved up their asses.

But not everything is great. Probably the most hotly debated addition to the gameplay is the “Fight for the Fumble” mini-game. When a fumble occurs and the pileup ensues, the player is prompted to start mashing a random button, and that button changes randomly every couple of seconds. Personally, I hate this new mechanic, especially when playing the CPU (don’t ever expect to get the ball when playing the CPU.) Fortunately, you can turn it off. I see why they added it, and actually, I think the idea is sound, but the execution is just not there yet. Also, it still seems like it’s a bit to easy to get a sack on a Play Action, as the quarterback still gets stuck in an animation and can’t quickly scramble away from an all-out blitz. Again, these issues are minor, and in one case, can be completely avoided.

Franchise Mode:
This is probably the mode that they put the most time and effort into. First, the interface has been completely revamped, and is nicely streamlined. Getting through your schedule is only a couple of button presses away, and with a click of L3, you can save everything at once. If you choose, you can go through a full draft out of over 8,000 hand created rookies for the Draft classes. The CPU logic has been completely overhauled and is supposed to be much more realistic than before. Scheduling has been improved for when you move past the current year, so things like 6 home games in a row don’t happen any more. I personally haven’t gotten this deep into the Franchise mode though, but I do know that there are a ton of fixes that they’ve made in this mode.

You can choose to get that deep into things or not, and that’s a very welcome feature to me. I don’t personally care about “managing” a team, and really, I just want to play through the season. The interface is very nice though, and allows you to manage injured players etc very quickly and easily. Heck, they even added a flyover before the game, which is meaningless really, but does help pull the player into the experience.

madden-10-wildcat-1

Online/Multiplayer:
Luckily, they brought the servers up early, and apparently game retailers don’t care about Street Dates everywhere, as there are quite a few people online already (1 guy already had a 61-9 record after the servers were only up for about a day and a half.) The lobby system is very straightforward and easy to use. The challenge system as well is incredibly easy to use, and the standard chat window in each lobby is present as usual. It would have been nice though, if they’d used the same typing system that the PS3 uses everywhere else. I was stumbling all over the place when trying to type a simple message with the controller.)

Voice chat works very well, and online play is incredibly smooth. I’ve played 5 games online so far, and all 5 were great experiences. EA Sports has done an admirable job with their online, and especially with their Netcode. I have however, vowed to only play people on my friends list, as most of the people I have encountered online so far, play more with the notion of using little exploits to defeat the AI etc. Also, it does seem like some of the factors how the ratings are used per player and team is a bit wonky. I was decimated by someone using the Browns because Brady Quinn is supposed to be so great. In the entirety of the game, I saw only 1 bad pass, and 1 dropped pass, which really, is an indication that something is a bit broken with the ratings system. I had another game where the guy used the “Wildcat” offense for probably 95% of the game. Even after I found 2 defensive plays that stopped that offense dead every time, he continued to use it, and to blitz on probably 3 out of every 4 downs. Anyway, enough whining.

I have not had the opportunity to try Online Franchise yet, but from what I’ve read, it’s definitely streamlined this year. One complaint I have seen is that they removed mandatory training, and if you do any training, it doesn’t seem to affect the player at all. One thing that does stand-out is that EA Sports is releasing an iPhone app on August 18th for free, that allows you to interact with your Online Franchise. (App is not available at the time of this review though.)

Also, I have not had a chance to play in Online Co-Op yet, but what I am hearing from a few people is that it’s quite fun, but there are some camera issues for the 2nd player. Also, it seems that only one player picks all of the plays, which seems a bit odd. This is one of the perils of reviewing the online portion of a game before it’s released (sorry.)

The last thing that I will mention, but will not detail, is the option to Purchase “Madden Elite Status” for $4.99. I will include a link at the end of the review for those that want the details though. Going “Elite” allows for the All-Madden difficulty, has exclusive lobbies and forums, and is aimed squarely at the Madden “Hardcore.” I see why they’re doing this, and hey, no one is forcing anyone to pay the 5 bucks to do it. The players that go Elite, I probably don’t want to see online anyway. Some of the other paid features have been creating quite a ruckus as well, and again, it doesn’t affect me, so I really haven’t paid much attention to it. Again, I’ll include links if you want to do further research.

Conclusion:
It’s nice to see that EA isn’t just resting on their laurels being the only Football game in town. This iteration of the Madden series can truly be considered an evolution, and mostly for the better. I’m having a lot of fun playing it, and the online is so easy to use, and so smooth that I see myself using it plenty. Even with the minor issues described above, I have no reservations at all in recommending this game to any Football fan.

Score:
8.5

**NOTE** There is connectivity with the PSP version that allows you to create and test custom plays, but I don’t have the PSP version, which means that I couldn’t review it. Keep your eyes here though, as I will talk about it as soon as I get to try it out.

External Links:
Madden 10 “Premium Packs”
Online Franchise Management Site

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  • great review man…too bad you didnt try all the online modes yet..i will get it Friday at 12:01 after the pre-season game..if you can add me on psn: datmaddendude

  • Anyone that actually has the PSN Name of “datmaddendude” is the LAST person that I'd want to play online against 😛 I'm not very good at the game already, if I played you, my self-esteem would go into the toilet!

  • madeup6

    He probably can't add you anyways. Damn psn friend limit. Its why fat princess needs a server browser.

  • madeup6

    YEAH CARDINALS!!!!

  • so this article is rated with an A-… I wonder why is that lol 😀

  • so this article is rated with an A-… I wonder why is that lol 😀