We love it when a plan comes together. After years of warmed-over PS2 ports and half-baked attempts at making their hyper-complicated games more accessible, the gang at EA Sports has hit their mark. This season, Madden 10 not only nails the gaming habits of the system’s demographics – i.e families that aren’t hardcore Madden maniacs – but also uses Wii’s strengths to the max. The result is a football game that anyone who loves the NFL can enjoy on many different levels.
To be sure, Madden 10 is not well-suited to single players looking for a deep simulation. Yes, there is a season mode called Road to the Super Bowl replete with stats, trades, and deep playbooks, but even this oh-so-tried-and-true Madden staple features twists not seen on any other console. Do poorly, and you’ll be “benched” while other Miis have the option to step in and turn things around. In fact, just about everything is geared toward engaging multiple people at once, whether it’s the Huddle-Up co-op mode or the Madden Showdown party game. It’s an overdue focus that, in the right situation, pays major dividends.
On the field, this is the best-looking footballer yet on the Wii. That’s not because the visuals are more realistic; rather, the move towards a slightly cartoony feel is a perfect fit. Receivers are lithe, skinny burners, while linemen are bulky, bounding galoots, yet it’s not so over-the-top as to take away from the authenticity of the real players, teams, and stadiums. What’s more, the action is smoother than ever – even moreso than its console cousins.
Unfortunately, we weren’t thrilled by the still-clunky controls. Running the ball is simple enough, but passing is onerous, even with two different options to choose from. In what seems as tacit acknowledgment, the defense tends to be very forgiving, especially on the default difficulty. Shaking, whooshing, and otherwise flinging your Wiimote to and fro helps you land shed blocks, add extra oomph to tackles, and kick long field goals.
Family-friendly game modes abound, including breezy 5-on-5 battles, scads of minigames, and several skill levels to allow everyone to jump in and play. There’s even full-fledged online football, a welcome feature that’s lacking from too many titles on the console. While longtime Madden fans may scoff at the style, controls, and dearth of “hardcore” features like in-depth franchises, that’s OK. They’re not on the invitation list anyway.
Madden 10 is the best Wii game yet for families that love the NFL, as well as those whose Dads might want to prod little Johnny or Jenny into the fold. It’s not a perfect game, mind you, but it’s a breath of fresh air that reminds you how invigorating a game designed for – and not around – the Wii can be.
Aug 17, 2009