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Madden NFL 10 - PS3 - Preview 2

EA Sports seems to have found its stride when it comes to the Madden Football franchise because rather than totally reinvent the franchise with the next iterations, or make overwhelming revamps, the dev team takes the core gaming experience and then tweaks it to breathe a more realistic feel into the gaming experience.  

Of course, this is a very good thing, but when it comes to comparisons between Madden and EA Sports’ other football franchise (NCAA), the pro game (aka Madden) falls a bit short. At least that was the impression gleaned after spending a weekend with the test-unit disk provided by EA for this preview. Why? Because the game does not flow as smoothly, and it doesn’t seem to have the pace that the NCAA title does.

Some of the elements, at least at this stage of the game’s development, are lacking – like the Superstar mode that allows players to create a superstar (or import one from the NCAA title) and then guide that player’s pro career. The whole practice element seems to be rather pointless. For example, after creating a running back, and having him drafted by the Cowboys (who, in spite of having a good runningback and quarterback, still had no problem drafting the created player and starting him; in NCAA you can be recruited but you may have to work your way into the starting lineup), one practice was devoted to pass blocking … without much of a pass rush. It seems the offensive line has no problem blocking for passes, but certainly does struggle to clear a hole for a rushing play.

But rather than focus on the elements that don’t quite measure up, let’s look instead at what is new to the world of Madden football.

A new animation system is in place called the Pro-Tak, which allows up to 9-man gang tackles. Of course, ball carriers can also attempt to break out of the tackles using the highlight stick as well as using a player off the ball to run in and try to break up the gang tackle. There are close to 1,000 new animations inserted into the game, with signature animations that allow players to more closely resemble the movement of their real-life counterparts – and that means that quarterbacks and kickers have their signature movement sets in place as well.

Now with gang tackles, that means that the chance for the ball to pop loose increases and there is a new “Fight for the Fumble” mini-game in place, tied to player skill level, that involves some button mashing as players on the bottom of the pile handfight for the loose pigskin.

The game takes advantage of the PS3 controller’s rumble effects to allow players to feel pressure as the quarterback and, of course, a good performance leads to a great game rating. Speaking of which, the game also has a new ratings system, not only for QBs but across the board.

It is evident that the interaction (animation-wise) between players has been looked at seriously in this iteration, as you will find blocks thrown downfield, as well as the hand-fighting between receivers and defensive backs sparkle.

There is a new ambience to the game outside of the superstar mode, one that breathes excitement into the game. There are the quick play modes, the franchise modes and so on, and the game should also have a pretty robust online presence as well.

Cris Collinsworth is a delight as the color commentator, and while the menu music might not suit everyone’s tastes, the game does do a decent overall job in the sound department. The graphics are also well done.

Playing outside of the Superstar mode renders a game that is entertaining, though there seems to be more work needed prior to the mid-August release to make this a top draw for gridiron fans.

Gw
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