Madden NFL 10 Wii Review

21 years and EA’s Madden series is still going strong and somehow they still manage to come up with some brand new features for each annual release. This year, the Wii is once again treated to a more specialised game, introducing features such as Point and Pass as well as a distinct visual style.

Firstly, let’s stay with the visuals. Like EA’s very own Grand Slam Tennis, Madden NFL 10 on the Wii exaggerates the world a little, making the graphics more cartoon-like. The Wii may not be able to produce gorgeous HD visuals, though it can cope with the stylistic, perhaps going someway to patching over the rest of its graphical inadequacies. The results are good, though only when you get close-ups of the players, otherwise it isn’t really that noticeable.

As for the game itself, a few changes have been made, resulting in new ways to play virtual American Football. Point and Pass works exactly as suggested: following the snap it’s possible to point at the man you want to pass to, highlighting him and then tossing the ball in his direction. Given some time and practice, it works great and is a very natural way to play the game. As usual, the directional passing is still in there, which means that those who don’t take to the new option or those who’d prefer to stay in their comfort zone, aren’t forced into using Point and Pass.

For the younger and less experienced, All-Play makes its return, once again simplifying how the game is played somewhat. This time around, the All-Play also extends to the defence: holding the A button down to home in on the ball carrier or the intended receiver, whilst also attempting the interceptions and the big hits. It once again makes the game friendlier to those who would ordinarily look at the complexities of the advanced controls and then feel overwhelmed by it all, but the advanced set-up is also there for players who want it, as well.

There’s a number of new modes included: Huddle-up is a multiplayer mode that is obviously aimed to be played alongside a casual/younger player, the main player plays the game in the usual manner, though player 2 is given the opportunity to act all godlike, helping the main player out by knocking over opposing players like bowling pins. Road to the Super Bowl has you and up to three other players playing cooperatively through a season, though doing embarrassingly bad will result in you being benched, the only way back then is through the actions of your team-mates. My pick of the new modes is definitely Madden Showdown, simply because it’s silly, casual fun, thus fitting the Wii perfectly.

Madden Showdown can be played with game changers turned on, and these add some fun and very unpredictable moments to this year’s game. With Tug of War switched on, the offence only has one turn to get the ball up the field, It’s Alive means that dropped balls are counted as fumbles as opposed to incomplete passes, Fumblitis isn’t some sort of newly discovered contagious disease, though with this option switched on it certainly seems as if the players are coming down with something, as the slightest of contact will have the ball tumbling from their hands, resulting in many a crazy moment. All Passing Plays and All Running Plays force you to pass and run on each turn respectively, whilst turbo mode and invisibility are pretty self explanatory. Showdown can be played through a set of up to five rounds, with each game (lasting from 1 to 10 minutes, your choice) running without any quarter/half time interruptions.

Madden Showdown also allows for each player to make predictions as to what will happen throughout the game (longest pass, most completions etc). Here, your showdown points (awarded for touchdowns and making predictions as if you are some sort of fortune teller) are at stake and the one with the most at the end will be crowned the Showdown Champion. Overall, Madden Showdown is an excellent mode that will please the Wii crowd and those who just like to spice things up with some silly rules.

This year the 5-on-5 (introduced last year) has a bigger presence and can now be played in more modes. Moving on, the usual Franchise, Superstar and Situation modes are oddly locked to begin with, though they’ve changed little from last year, which will irk those looking for new features.

But regardless of the odd problem here and there, Madden NFL 10 on the Wii is yet another stellar entry in the 21-year-old series, bolstered once again by some enticing new features. The game has been designed to attract two very different audiences and is successful at doing just that, though there’s little new for the more hardened of Madden gamers.