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Critical Reception: EA Sports' Madden NFL 10

This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Madden NFL 10, a football franchise update that reviews describe as "a game that blends the best of the past and the future."
This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Madden NFL 10, a football franchise update that reviews describe as "a game that blends the best of the past and the future." Madden NFL 10 currently earns a score of 88 out of 100 at Metacritic.com. GamePro's Mitchell Dyer rates Madden NFL 10 at 4.5 out of 5 stars. "The first thing I noticed was that the pace of Madden 10 is noticeably slower this year," Dyer begins. "Naturally, you can adjust the settings if the slightly more methodical speed isn't to your liking, but I instantly fell in love with the measured tempo." Dyer continues: "The chaos of a collapsing pocket and the ensuing panic isn't as immediate, giving you more time to consider your options before firing off a pass. And when the defense inevitably comes rolling in for the quarter back sack, handy controller vibrations alert you to the incoming danger." The result is a more enjoyable and accessible experience. "Madden 10 makes a lot of things easier for you," Dyer explains. "Gone are the days of agonizing menu surfing and superfluous training sessions before a regular season game." Dyer describes AI hiccups as an occasional detriment, but otherwise finds the package a worthy upgrade. "Even with the iffy AI and the unrealistic number of interceptions, Madden 10 is still a deeply involving experience," Dyer notes in conclusion. "Yes it still is a 'repackaged roster update' but it also expertly executes on the new ideas, making for a game that blends the best of the past and the future." At Game Informer, Matthew Kato scores Madden NFL 10 at 8.75 out of 10. "I have no trouble telling you that this is the best Madden in this generation of consoles," he says. "It's not the most feature-rich title in the series," Kato admits, "and not all of its previous problems have been fixed. But the game makes up for its deficiencies by offering a gameplay balance that delivers NFL-caliber football moments without sacrificing how the game plays or feels." Kato notes that Madden NFL 10's new features are a mixed bag. "Madden 10's inclusion of online franchises is long overdue, and it mostly performs up to expectations," he explains. "True free agency is missing, and the CPU drafting leaves a skewed player pool to pick from, but real-time drafting is a blast." "As for the other new online feature: online co-op, don't get too excited. The camera is in tight like in Superstar mode, and only the player who is the online host can call plays." Though Kato is satisfied with many of Madden NFL 10's gameplay improvements, he feels that the game's weaker aspects need improvement. "It is absolutely necessary for the Franchise mode to be improved if this series is ever to take a bigger step forward," Kato writes. "The only things I like of the offseason options are the new player potential ratings and revamped player ratings and progressions. I expect much more progress for Franchise mode in the future." 1UP.com's Garnett Lee gives Madden NFL 10 a grade of B+. "Since entering the current console generation, [Madden's] developers have banked on visual power to carry the load, and hoped that the right tweaks and additions to the rest of the game would create a winner," he says. "With Madden 10, EA Sports seems to have had an epiphany and realized that Madden wasn't going to go all the way on looks alone." Madden NFL 10's new tackling animations help to create a more realistic-looking game. "The big rookie that could herald a brighter future is the Pro-Tak system," Lee notes. "Named after the core tech of procedural tackling, it makes its presence felt in much more than just big hits; in fact, it represents a whole new approach to handling how players interact with each other without the stiff constraints of motion capture." "As a result, the running game easily stands on its own in Madden 10," Lee reasons, "and makes a balanced offensive strategy a stronger option than ever before. Even a mid-level back, used correctly, helps dramatically open up the playbook over the course of a game." "Football fundamentals matter now," Lee concludes. "Successful plays come from knowing the situation, calling the right play, making a good pre-snap read, and then executing -- the same criteria that determines the outcome in a real game. After wondering since the advent of the HD generation if Madden would get serious about elevating its game to match its good looks, it's nice to see that Madden 10 takes a significant step in that direction."

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