Madden NFL 10 (Wii) Review
Friday, September 04, 2009 3:39 PM
Best to stick to the Xbox 360 and PS3 brutes for this sporting series.
Hands up who hasn't heard of the Madden franchise? Seriously? Anyone? O.K., for the one hand in the back of the room, this is EA's annual game for their American Football franchise, in exactly the same vein as Tiger Woods and FIFA.
Your eponymous hero, John Madden, is actually rarely heard from these days. He's sort of the US equivalent of John Motson - a commentator revered for his past glory, but who everyone hates these days, mainly as he seems to have gone a bit loopy.
From the outset, Madden 10 suffers from the same problems that all of the games EA have produced for the Wii. From '07 onwards, the changes they've made have been fairly drastic. Again, the controls are different, the interface is different, the graphics are different and the gameplay is different. They just don't seem to have made their mind up as to the long term plans for this game, and so keep changing it.
Remarkably, however, EA may have found a good balance for the Wii with the latest offering. It is much more user friendly, and for the first time, it seems to have tapped into the idea that the Wii is not a console that gamers generally play by themselves.
The most fun to be had is on Madden Showdown. This allows up to four players to play silly little side games against one another, rather than partake in a full-blown game of football; such as who can gain the most yards or most passing yards, whilst betting against one another to see who knows his fellow gamers the best.
The silliness continues on the field with turbo mode, which, as you can imagine, simply means the players run a bit faster than before. It's great fun with your mates or family, and realistically, that's the whole point of this re-tooling of sorts.
My main and personal criticism of the game is that it forgoes everything that I used to enjoy about Madden. The realism has simply gone out of the window. The graphics have taken on a much more cartoon like style, with players generally pigeonholed as being fat if defensive and skinny if offensive.
Whilst the graphics are only a minor gripe, I ended up feeling as though I was playing NFL Street instead of the Madden franchise, which is particularly prevalent when playing Madden Showdown.
Equally, the controls are a massive bug-bear for me. The "All-Play" style is great for beginners, I must admit. With it you have one run, one pass and one other play to choose from. You then simply flick the Wii-mote or press the correct button and the system does the rest. By which I mean everything. It runs the same pattern and smashes through tackles whether you want them to or not.
I do feel that this rather oversimplifies matters, however. I used to love not really being sure of the play I was running, but confident that I would be able to pull something out of the bag by wheeling and dealing and controlling my receiver through the masses of bodies to certain glory. This, unfortunately, can no longer happen.
The old modes such as Franchise, Superstar and role-play modes are available to play, but these are as unlockable extras with the major disappointment that they've just been ported over from the '09 version. They haven't been updated in any order to match either the control changes or the graphic changes. It's a rude awakening from playing the family friendly game to the gritty, hard-hitting solo based gameplay of last year's fare.
Creating a more accessible game should be applauded. EA has taken a bold step by coming out of their comfort zone with this Wii effort. It's difficult to suggest that the Madden franchise has been steadily going stale, as they've always come up with new and different gameplay ideas and Madden 10 on the Xbox 360 and PS3 is testament to that.
But by re-imagining Madden as a multiplayer family friendly game, EA is going to risk the ire of a great number of their base fans with the Wii game, such as myself. It's not a game you can spend hours whittling away a season on, for example. Nor does the lack of online gameplay help it at all.
For Madden 11, they either have to reach a happy medium on the Wii, or move the gameplay to a completely casual and arcade-like feel. For Madden 10, my advice is to give it a miss on the Wii and buy the excellent Xbox 360 and PS3 version
instead. There's just too much work to be done before it becomes an excellent franchise on the Wii.
Read our Xbox 360 and PS3 Madden 10 Review right here.