Madden 10

Kombo’s Review Policy: Our reviews are written for you. Our goal is to write honest, to-the-point reviews that don’t waste your time. This is why we’ve split our reviews into four sections: What the Game’s About, What’s Hot, What’s Not and Final Word, so that you can easily find the information you want from our reviews.

What the Game’s About
Madden Football is now entering its twenty-first year as a franchise and you’ll be hard pressed to find a gamer that hasn’t heard about series. Madden, the game, is now legal to drink so it bring a new sense of maturity not normally found of people the same age. In recent years, Madden football games drifted ever so gently towards a quicker pace and a more arcade approach.

Now the pendulum is back towards a more methodical pace focused on nuanced realism with the release of Madden 10. The development process was handed over to a new design team and used lots of gamer feedback from frequent developer blogs and lots of EA Sports community involvement. The revamped style and continual improvements from previous years sets a new benchmark for the franchise and the Football genre.

What’s Hot
Madden is coming after a smoking hot last year. With a solid foundation from Madden 09, Madden 10 expands on that with improvements of its own. Top of the list is the “Pro-Tak” that allows for nine man tackles that instantly makes Madden 10 feel more like a real game. Get enough of your team in on the hog pile and push for a few extra yards otherwise some jerk from the other team can push the group over. Other improvements are more subtle but make a big impact like the replacement of nearly 1,000 animations. Lastly, the controversial Rewind feature was removed which only seemed to undermine the simulation nature of Madden.

The game is smoother and more streamlined. The reorganized menus set a cleaner tone that is carried throughout the game. You’ll only see three plays when the playbook pops up and the graphics got a little tweak to make them feel more natural. Even the AI feels more natural as it will adapt to your play style if you start to display obvious patterns. More than ever, it feels like a fine tooth comb was repeatedly raked through Madden and the result is a fantastic football experience.

This year, the Madden zeroed in on some low hanging fruit with modes that have been neglected or passed over in recent years. Two-player online Co-op makes a triumphant entrance this year. How a mode like this escaped previous editions is curious but the presence is definitely now felt. Testosterone fueled competitive matches are now tempered with a friendly game of buddies working like a football team.

Perhaps the biggest undertaking this year is the Online Franchise mode. Up to 32 teams can draft, trade post messages and do other sorts of Football management via the online interface in the game. What is most remarkable about this feature is not only the scope and feature set but the fact that you don’t have to be tied to your console to manage it. It is entirely possible to manage the mode through the PC or a nifty iPhone App so you can make changes just about anywhere you go.

What’s Not
The Online Franchise mode is unlocked via a special code printed on the back of your instruction book and only usable once. In an effort to make up lost profits from used game sales, the code is tied to a specific system and will be locked if it is already used. You can purchase the mode via the Madden store but the feature isn’t a consumer friendly decision.

Another questionable decision is the Elite Status mode. Forget about a single use code, you have to plunk down more money if you want to be treated like a VIP in the Madden Online universe. It is supposedly targeted towards the hardest of hardcore and affords little luxuries to that crowd like exclusive lobbies and leaderboards. While it isn’t mandatory, why this was something you need to pay for is pointless. The benefits seem marginal for a fee of 400 MS Points or $4.99 on the PSN.

Final Word
The question usually on most gamers mind’s, especially for yearly sports releases, is if the game is a noticeable improvement over the previous year’s effort. That doesn’t even enter the equation for Madden 10 because there is a night and day difference between the versions. Madden 10 is a hallmark of the franchise and makes the last few years look like C+ work when they played like an A effort when brand new. More than ever before, Madden looks, feels and plays like any given Sunday. If you purchase one football game this decade, this is it.