Although the game is dropping "All Play" from the title, this is still very much a casual Madden for Wii owners and is setup for quick play at parties. You'll be able to delve deeper into the game if you so choose, but it's designed for quick games that can be finished in a few minutes. This year, the Wii version is being developed at Tiburon itself and sports a new stylized, graphical style. It's easy to tell at a glance that it's the Wii version and the character models are a bit deformed, adding a fun feel to the graphics.
Passing has been simplified from last year's version and will just require you to point the Wii Remote at the receiver you want to throw to and hit a button. Fans of last year's scheme will be able to utilize those controls, however. For advanced players, many of the controls have been moved from buttons and are no longer mapped to gestures. This is a great change as it will require less fumbling with the Wiimote to pull off a stiff arm or juke. For players on "All Play" mode, they need only shake the Wiimote and the game will decide the best move to use in a given situation. This could be spinning, jumping for a pass, or diving depending on the circumstances.
Play selection will vary based on the skill level set by the player. On "All Play" you'll be choosing between three plays: run, short pass, long pass. It's very Tecmo Bowl -- easy enough to get the player going, while still giving enough of a choice to allow a play style to emerge. At intermediate, you'll be choosing between a few formations, but still won't see play names. You'll still get a breakdown based on type: run, short pass, etc. On advanced, you'll get the regular playbook for the team and be able to choose the exact play you want.
Once you have your play, changing it on the fly is a breeze. This was actually the most impressive feature that I saw. On either offense or defense, you can pause the game and select any player. While selected, you simply draw the new route or play on the screen using the Wiimote. On offense, this could amount to drawing a slant route for a receiver. On defense, you could set a CB to blitz the QB, spy a RB, or go into deep zone coverage. It's amazingly fast and simple to use, but pausing the game feels a bit off from the usual rush to set audibles that I'm used to in Madden.
A full suite of party mini-games and the 5-on-5 mode will return, which adds to the pickup-and-play motif. Tiburon's strategy appears to be to offer a different product for the Wii. It's a bit sad that a full-on hardcore game isn't in the cards for Wii owners, but the audience is definitely skewed toward the casual. The simplified controls should remove the complaints that Madden games seem to always suffer on next-gen consoles: "The controls are too hard."
It's interesting that after just two years EA is moving away from dedicated gesture controls and mapping more things to actual buttons. I'm certainly happy with the move, but it doesn't really support what the Wii is supposed to be. Granted, the All Play mode will let a player shake the Wiimote to get a move, but there won't be gestures.
The Wii version of Madden NFL 10 will be released on August 14th and we'll have much more coverage on the game from E3 2009.