Madden NFL 10 Review

By Mike D'Alonzo - Posted Aug 12, 2009

Madden NFL 10 splits the difference between the arcade style of All-Play and the depth and presentation from older Wii Maddens to try and appeal to the masses. It aims to please all, and instead, pleases none.

The Pros
  • The presentation is more realistic than before
  • End zone celebrations are fun
  • Better camera angles
The Cons
  • Gameplay is clunky and too simple
  • Mechanics are confusing and don't make sense
  • Too many useless features

EA has seen some growing pains with Madden on the Wii. Starting with Madden 07 at launch and continuing with Madden 08, the franchise was a “wagglier” translation of the simulation-focused football on other platforms. Last year, EA brought Madden NFL 09 All-Play to the party to make the game more palatable to the less-than-savvy football gamer. Madden NFL 10 splits the difference, keeping some of the arcade-style antics of All-Play, while trying to incorporate some of the depth and presentation from other versions to try and appeal to the masses. The result is, simply put, a mess. It aims to please all, and instead, pleases none.

Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

There is little satisfying about the Madden 10 experience on Wii, aside from revamped presentation. From its visuals, which are (generously speaking) ugly, to mechanics, which are oversimplified to the point that they’re confusing, this is a game that will make you wonder who EA Tiburon was trying to satisfy when they put the whole thing together. It's not as if they haven't tried to add to the game, because there's a whole lot of new stuff here, but most of it runs the gamut from vaguely amusing to completely pointless. Who wants to play a mode in which both teams continually fumble the ball until it squirts harmlessly out of bounds? Is there any benefit or detriment to having a player randomly turn invisible during a play? There certainly doesn't seem to be. In fact, Madden 10 Wii seems to be a Frankenstein's monster of ideas, and like the good doctor’s creation, it ends badly.

Madden NFL 10 Wii

The Game Within The Game

While it’s certainly understandable that some of the early versions of Madden for the Wii were a little too complicated, the gameplay has been simplified to the point where it not only lacks a challenge, it also lacks a fun factor. Also, I don't know that it's possible not to complete a pass in the game, as even deliberately errant throws find the mark. Running is a hit-and-miss effort: you will occasionally just stop for no reason, and the movements are counter-intuitive. There are two modes for passing here, but the tutorial doesn't address the specifics of either one, opting instead to teach you the difference between throwing a bullet and a lob using the remote, as if you've never played the game before in your life and didn't know the difference. Perhaps if they'd taken advantage of Wii Motion Plus, the mechanics might have felt more refined, but no dice.

The new defensive system is also pretty questionable. It allows you to simply target the person you'd like to tackle, and then press "A" to allow the defense to swarm to them. The carrier has the ball -- it should be easy enough to determine that he’s the one you want to tackle. In co-op mode, the screen is cut off so that it's very difficult to see your receivers. That’s strange when you consider that in co-op, your partner is 90% likely to be the ball carrier and can’t see themselves onscreen. In short, the gameplay is a lot like the arcade version of NFL Blitz, but without the extracurricular activity at the end of the play.

Even A Stopped Clock Tells The Correct Time Twice A Day

It's not all bad. There is an attempt to make the presentation a bit more realistic, and the playcalling team of Chris Collinsworth and Tom Hammond provide more than capable work from the booth. The end zone celebrations are still there, and they're fun. Get used to them, because you're going to be doing a lot of scoring. The camera angles are better than past Wii versions of the game, making the presentation of the game more satisfying, even if the visuals aren’t much to call home about.

Madden NFL 10 Wii Review

At Home, You Go For The Win

Look, it's admirable that the folks at EA Tiburon wanted to try and appeal to everyone with Madden NFL 10 Wii. In that sense, it’s a noble failure. Ideally, Tiburon could’ve better served the audience with a more polished All-Play approach and let other platforms take on the in-depth simulation aspects. Spruce up those casual-friendly elements of Madden, and you might have something. Instead, the studio has taken a step backwards, rather than a leap forward. Let’s hope the leap forward comes next year. I am convinced that there's a really fun way to play Madden on the Wii, but Madden NFL 10 just isn't it.