With each new instalment of Madden NFL, a selection of new and improved features are thrust upon us to interact and play with on the virtual field. Sometimes these features are rich, deep and can envelop us for hours; other times they are small, aesthetic modifications to the game that serve to make the series a tiny bit more pleasing to the eye. Although it must be hard for developers to bring something different to the table each year when the sport of football remains exactly the same, Madden NFL 10 has demonstrated a good combination of new features to keep Madden gamers everywhere content for another 12 months.
The first new feature worthy of discussion is the much anticipated online franchise mode. You and up to 31 friends can take your franchise online and go head to head with one another in your own league. Throughout each season you can trade players with each another and draft new players as you attempt to build your own online dynasty. The online franchise mode needs to be activated using a code from your manual, but if you happen to own a second hand version that has already been activated you have the option of purchasing an activation code for 800 Microsoft points. This would have to be one of the few downfalls of this years iteration of the game (in fact I came across a few other times where I had the option of purchasing some type of game content). Money issues aside, this new swing on a game mode loved by sports gamers everywhere is a great addition that adds plenty of value and depth to a game that has always been pretty deep in features.
Another interesting addition this year is the Pro-Tak system. Pro-Tak is a new animation system that basically governs the visual outcome of every play. Pro-Tak is activated during certain situations. For example, during a fumble a series of buttons appear on screen. I guess you could say that these buttons represent the mongrel in your players to fight for the ball in the pile up. Keep pressing the right buttons until the officials blow their whistles and you may come away with the pig skin. Gang tackles also feature as part of the Pro-Tak system, with up to 9 players able to get stuck in to progress the pile backward or forward. Pro-Tak is not only limited to tackling, with QB avoidance kicking in when your play maker is in trouble. If your QB is under pressure in the pocket, your controller will vibrate to let you know a big hit is imminent. This gives you the opportunity to flick the hit stick which will sometimes get your quarter back out of trouble and avoid being sacked. It didn’t take long before I witnessed these Pro-Tak features in action, and I love the fact that what you see take place in front of you is not always a set-in-stone animation.
Most of the selectable game modes are pretty stock standard, except for the aforementioned online franchise mode. Another addition which seems to be popping up in more and more EA Sports games these days is online cooperative mode. However, as is the case with most of these game modes, they tend to encounter a few teething issues on their first appearances. What potentially could be the best sport for cooperative play, has been limited by a horrible camera angle. Online cooperative play puts you into the ‘superstar’ camera angle which gives a zoomed in like view of your player. Sometimes it feels and looks great, other times – usually on defence, things really become a muddle and you struggle to run your chosen assignment. I think it would have been much better with a high and wide camera angle giving everyone the same view. Another fun mode I enjoyed tinkering with was Madden Moments. This mode provided 34 Madden moments from the previous season where you could jump in and replay in similar fashion. The first five moments were unlocked, completing these will unlock more moments to replay.