So, we’re trained and fit – it’s time for the real meat of the game! EA has kindly provided a choice of two modes, Franchise Mode and Be An NFL Superstar, for players to flick between.
Franchise Mode is the regular career mode where you become manager/owner of your favourite team and play as them for as many seasons as you desire. The menu system that forms the bulk of this mode is a bit poorly designed thought, and involves too many sub-menus and tab-flickings. However, there’s plenty for the player to do between each match, and Franchise Mode is very similar to the Manager Mode of FIFA
on the whole.
Another nice touch is the half-time and post-show Show and Extra Point Show, a roundup of the week in your career which displays the stats and best replays in a TV-style repeat. Again, this is something FIFA
players will know EA has struggled with in the past, though it’s handled pretty well here. Hopefully this means the same feature could make it’s way over to FIFA
in short time – though we'd rather it wasn’t as repetitive as it is here.
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Then there’s Be An NFL Superstar, which takes a different approach to Franchise Mode and lets you play as a single player on the pitch - at lot like FIFA
’s Be a Pro. You can either pick to play as an NFL rookie or you can create your own future superstar, with a setup also a lot FIFA
s. During the campaign you are given practice sessions to go to, which are a lot like the regular training just without as much guidance, as well as matches. In the matches you play only as your player, which is quite annoying when you lose the match through no fault of your own. In the main menu you have the choice to simulate to a certain date, bypassing any practice or matches if you want, as well as checking your player’s ego.
To start with, the offensive play is quite fulfilling in a strategic way, as the player who has the ball tries to find the receiver be pressing an allocated button, or by passing it short to a runner and having to find and fight your way through the line of defence. This all looks lovely, but the gameplay is fairly automated as you only have to press an arrangement of buttons to pass to your free runner. The real challenge is picking out which runner has the most amount of space before the opposition tackles you. If you’re successful, you can pretty much guarantee a successful catch. It’s also worth pointing out that the current controls for kicking the ball just don’t require enough skill to feel challenging
The graphics look very detailed with sleek, with sophisticated animations for basic actions like catching, throwing, tackling and blocking. The actions of the players are mostly smooth, although at times the game does suffer from a bit of stuttering on the PS3. As for the game itself, it looks very similar to FIFA 09
, which does look and play like a next-generation console game. This is mostly down to EA’s new animation technology called Pro-Tak, which EA claims allows up to nine players to be involved in tackles, and can dynamically manipulate tackle animations based on player stats to give a more realistic, more varied feel to the game.
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EA have plainly tried to cater to the larger market with Madden NFL 10
, adding in help features that let you get advice or simply choose some pre-set plays> However, selecting the right one often depends on knowing the deeper rules and lingo of the game – which still
may prove enough to alienate foreign players.
The defensive play also feels quite random and lacks the elegance and fun that comes with offensive play and, dare we say, the constant stop-start structure of American Football can prove quite distracting and often stops you from feeling like you’re involved in the game. Long games can feel like a slog rather than be enjoyable.
In the end, while Madden 10
will definitely prove a hit overseas and with fans of the sport, it’s not really strong enough to draw in any new players and isn’t as comprehensive a title as we’d like to see from a dedicated sports game that’s had so many iterations. It looks good on the screen and it plays decently enough, but if you aren’t already a fan of the game then it’s unlikely that Madden 10
is going to win you over, and it’s disappointing that EA is still stuck in the same, tired gameplay mechanics. Madden 10
lives up to expectations, but doesn’t surpass them for outsiders looking in.