Neowin Review: Madden NFL 10

First and 10: Overview

Since 1989, Madden has been a staple of video gaming for one reason or another, even more so when it gained exclusive rights to the NFL and NFL Player's Association. Since it is, essentially the only football game available to the console and PC gamer, the only comparisons one can make are to previous versions of the franchise. With that being said, Madden NFL 10 is definitely the best football game ever made.

Second and 5: Graphics

I'll start by saying this, Madden 10 looks fantastic. Everything is extremely detailed; the field, players and action all look stunning. There was however, some definite lagging behind on textures, most notably on quarterbacks during close-ups. Eli Manning would appear on screen, on a call with the booth upstairs, and about five seconds later, another more detailed texture layer would appear. Over time this really began to grind on me, there is so much effort put into presentation that this seemed unacceptable. The problem was not strictly on Eli Manning either, that was just one example, and it appeared on every quarterback during a game.

The other glaring deficiency appeared on stadium crowds. On close ups of the fans, they all had weird cloudy blue eyes that appeared to look directly through my soul. It was extremely unnerving; they all looked pretty similar, although some had beards or hats on. And on the larger shots it was clear that the stadium crowd was flat and poorly animated. This was largely a problem on high definition television sets, as playing the game in standard definition the crowd looked a lot more fluid.

Third and 1: Game play

Graphic shortcomings aside, the game plays really well. On easier settings in last year's edition, you could sit back as Tom Brady and throw deep to Randy Moss every single play. No go in Madden 10, your receiver needs to burn his defender pretty badly to get open for the long pass. This year is clearly concentrated on running and standard passing, and the entire game was very obviously slowed down and feels more like a football simulator than an arcade extravaganza. At first play, it will feel slightly more sluggish than last year, but over time you will appreciate the realism of 10.

Madden 10 also includes the standard selection of other modes. Franchise seems slightly neutered this year, the calendar system was changed and several options, like "sim preseason" aren't obvious at first glance. Although on the plus side, management AI is increased, preventing outrageous trades for the most part. Actually, it is almost too difficult to pull off a blockbuster, whereas last year a team could offer it's first three draft picks for just about anyone, this year it took nearly anything for the Vikings to trade just for Brady Quinn.

Fourth and inches: Off on a tangent

Madden represents the very essence of what is wrong with the video game industry. In the middle of a recession, EA Sports can continue to pump out modest game play upgrades every August and receive a windfall of cash. The problem I have with this isn't the business of making money, I understand there are very large sums of cash required to make a video game and that EA is looking to make a profit, not break even. However I see two glaring problems with Madden 10. The first problem is that the cost of a game of totally new IP is the same as this rehashing of Madden 2009. Games like Brutal Legend and Arkham Asylum require far more work then Madden and yet will hit the same price point and will probably not come close to the revenue EA will receive for Madden. This constant release schedule discourages new video games before they are even ever created.

My second larger problem with Madden is the use of in-game advertisements. In no other video game are advertisements actually needed as in Madden. For realism, having a Sprint drive summary makes the game seem like I am watching it on Sunday, not playing it in my underwear on a Tuesday night. However, back to my original problem with the 60 dollar price point, why if EA is having the cost of the game subsidized further by Snickers and Sprint do I still need to pay full price? If I am going to be bombarded by advertisements I should, even though I wouldn't, be able to turn the ads off. Or I should be able to buy a version of the game, without in-game ads, for several dollars more. Then again, maybe I'm just nuts.

Touchdown: Conclusion

Madden is an interesting game because if you are reading this review, you probably aren't going to buy it. Most diehard football fans have their copy already, and the few that don't will receive it as a present for the holidays. If Madden was $40.00, I would not hesitate to drive you to the store to buy it myself. The problem is, it's $60.00, and for most people that makes the game just not worth it. Madden 10 represents a real change to the standard Madden formula, but still, at its core the same glaring weaknesses are revealed. You spend your hard-earned cash on a series of roster updates and a new cover to a game that you probably bought last year and traded in to GameStop for $18.00.

Bottom line, as a football game, Madden is best in class, and not just because it's the only student. It looks, sounds, and plays great and if you are a football fan, or don't own a previous Madden game, it's a definite buy. For everyone else, unfortunately you need to skip this otherwise decent game and just move along.

Madden NFL 10: 83/100

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