IGN Review of Madden NFL 10
Last year's Madden on PlayStation 2 was home to some questionable changes to the long-standing formula. This time around EA Sports is sticking to the basics that made Madden so popular to begin with, while still offering some small additions and improvements to what could be the final version of the series to appear on Sony's aging console.
There have been a few notable changes to the core gameplay that, while they don't significantly change the experience, do deliver a slightly altered way to work your way through a game of Madden. The first is the customizable right analog stick. Here you can assign up to eight moves to every direction on the stick for both offense and defense. You can set moves for when you're playing as the quarterback, when you have the ball or when you're the receiver. The right stick customization isn't an earth shattering revelation for football, but it works fine for as simple as it is.
Fight for the Fumble is one of the few mechanics that was in other versions of Madden NFL 10 and actually made the transition to PS2. Sadly it doesn't work as fluidly as on Xbox 360 or PS3. Rather than jumping into a pile and scratching and clawing for the ball at the bottom you'll watch as your team clumsily kicks it along and tries to pick it up. All the while you're mashing a button but it just isn't as cool as it is in other versions.
If those changes weren't subtle enough, there's now also an "impact-cam" that causes your viewing angle to shake when the crowd gets loud or if someone lands a big hit. A version of it has been present in Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 editions for some time, but this is slightly more expanded. It's a very small difference, but one that I appreciate in a game of football. There's also a new momentum mechanic that shows you when players are on hot or cold streaks. This will alter attributes for that game and that game only. Again, this is something that has been in past Maddens but there's now a portion of the playcall screen that's devoted to displaying the info. It's a little annoying that they're adding small bits to old mechanics and passing them off as new, but those who are still playing on the PS2 really shouldn't expect much more.
Other pieces to the gameplay are identical to what you remember from Madden 09. Players move with adequate grace and their animations are fairly fluid and realistic. You can still pull off three different types of celebrations after scoring a touchdown and icing the kicker has been added to multiplayer games. Here one player presses an assortment of buttons and it causes the screen to shake and the other controller to vibrate like crazy in an effort to throw off their timing and increase their nerves. It's actually pretty cool to have your controller start freaking out when the clock ticks below two-minutes left in either the second or fourth quarter and you elect to go for a field goal.
In the way of modes, you'll find the old favorites like Franchise, Superstar, Fantasy Challenge, online play, and yes, there is some semblance of Owner Mode in this Madden (why it isn't included elsewhere is beyond me). You'll be able to manage things like ticket prices, reward signing bonuses to standout players and hire your own set of coaches.
You'll also be able to start your franchise with a fantasy draft and either participate in a standard franchise setup (but without the point system that was in Madden 09) or play Fantasy Challenge. In Fantasy Challenge you'll need to guard star performers from being lured away from your squad and then turn around and try to buy other players using Roster Points. It's a very simple game mode, but it's a cool change to the usual Franchise setup.
Family Play is back yet again and offers the same light-hearted take on traditional Madden football. It does a good job of simplifying things for newbies, whereas the skill drills just sort of throw you into the deep end of the pool without much guidance. A person with at least a base of football knowledge will be able to figure things out in time, but there could be a more gradual learning curve.
It seems like EA Sports has tuned the general football experience a bit from last year's game. Player's helmets don't fly off nearly as much and injuries happen at a more realistic pace. The passing and running games haven't seen much of a change, unless you fumble the ball of course. It's a solid, if not a bit uninspired, brand of pigskin.
The sights and sounds in the PS2 version are a bit of a mixed bag. The color palette seems washed out on the field, but player details are solid and the animation work is respectable. Clipping is still a big issue with players passing through each and celebrations that go right into the stands a bit too often. On the audio side John Hammond and Chris Colinsworth do the same terrible job they've done on other systems. The soundtrack is good, but the on-field action is very boring thanks to the duo in the booth.
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