Madden NFL 10 First Look

The biggest sports game around looks to improve some fundamentals, as EA Sports lifts the curtain on Madden 10.

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The official tagline for EA Sports' upcoming Madden NFL 10 is "fight for every yard," but we're more partial to something lead designer Ian Cummings told us during a recent EA press event in New York City: "Everything about this game bleeds football." Now, that quote might not surprise Madden fans--this is a football game, after all--but, from what we've seen of the game, it's indicative of the level of focus on display from the EA Tiburon development team. While last year's game put a big chunk of work into successful presentation upgrades, for Madden NFL 10 it seems that more effort than ever is going into improving the play in between the hedge marks.

For the last few months, the Madden development team has been opening up the making of Madden 10 on the publisher's blog, offering a window into what goes into making the annual franchise. So far, the team has called out things like improved head-tracking for quarterbacks and defensive backs, as well as a load of new fixes and upgrades for the franchise mode in Madden NFL 10. During the New York demo, the big news was a new tackling technology that the team has dubbed Pro-Tak.

In essence, Pro-Tak is designed to solve the gang tackling problem--or, more specifically, the lack of a gang tackling in previous versions of Madden. Fans have been clamoring for multiplayer takedowns for years now, but up until Madden 10, the Madden series has only allowed up to three players to be involved in a tackle (one of those including the ball carrier). That moves up significantly this season, with up to nine players involved in a tackle this time around. We saw it in action for ourselves during an exhibition rematch of Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Gang tackles arrive in Madden, courtesy of EA Sports' new 'Pro-Tak' technology.

With Pittsburgh in control of the ball, Steelers slippery running back Willie Parker was on display dodging inside between the defensive linemen, before being wrapped up by multiple defensemen and taken to the ground. As Cummings told us, these Pro-Tak gang tackles aren't canned animations; instead, these are procedurally generated takedowns, with each player in the play treated as an individual. Because of that, players will have a measure of control even after being wrapped up. Especially powerful players--think Brandon Jacobs on the Giants--will be able to push the pile forward and even twist and turn as he...well, fights for every yard. In addition, big pileup tackles might even end before players hit the ground, with the referee blowing the play dead when forward momentum is lost.

Gang tackles aren't the only improvement when tracking down a ball carrier. According to Cummings, the dev team has worked to fix niggling annoyances in Madden, such as the "suction effect," where players are magnetically drawn toward ball carriers when trying to make a tackle. That unrealistic effect should be drastically reduced this year thanks to a reduction in the distance at which a wrap animation begins, which has been shortened from around three yards to around one yard this year. However, superstar players will still be able to wrap up a player from a greater distance than your run-of-the-mill defender.

The common tactic for many experienced Madden online players is to either move the quarterback straight back out of the pocket or roll him out toward the sidelines. Part of the problem, it seems, has been the lack of a pocket altogether. That's another area of focus for Madden 10--creating a realistic and effective pocket for the quarterback to settle in to, in order to go through his reads and make the pass. As we saw in our demo, the offensive linemen in charge of protecting Ben Roethlisberger were much more adept and formed a protective cone around Big Ben during his drop back, either blocking defensive linemen altogether or steering them outside to give Roethlisberger more time to make his reads.

Despite an improved pocket, sooner or later protection always breaks down. With that in mind, the developers are also working on making sure certain quarterbacks are good at either avoiding and shedding tackles or getting rid of the ball when wrapped up by a defender. Indeed, several times we saw Ben moving around in the backfield, shedding tackles (which will be controlled with a flick of the right stick) and, in one case, tossing the ball in the air as an Arizona defender had him locked up. Of course, throwing during a tackle is a gamble in real life and it will be in Madden 10; in this example, the ball came out of Roethlisberger's hands like a wounded duck, just ripe for an interception attempt.

In the game, Big Ben will be just as elusive in the pocket as he is in real life.

The strategy of Madden players running backwards and bombing the ball has become such a problem that the developers are even considering making the quarterback drop back a bit more regimented than before. For instance, in plays that utilize a three-step drop, that animation will play out before you have control of the quarterback's movements. The seven-step drop will be the same, though you'll have a limited window in which you can break out of the long drop in order to evade a blitz or heavy pressure.

When you aren't fighting for every yard in Madden 10, you might be fighting for a fumble, thanks to a new minigame that looks to replicate the frantic chase that occurs when a ball gets loose on the field. The minigame, described as a quick-time event/button masher by producers, looks to add some interactivity and excitement to one of the tensest moments in any game. When asked how frequently this feature would crop up in games, producers said they were still tuning the feature--but it might be a safe bet to assume it might show up once per game. As producers told us, however, not every loose ball will result in the fight-for-the-fumble minigame.

Though gameplay improvements are first and foremost in Madden 10, there will be some graphical enhancements that look to build off the improved lighting and stadium effects from last year's game. Depth-of-field effects will add greater depth to the field (the developers are even considering offering an adjustable F-stop feature you could use when checking out replays). In addition, look for lots of little touches of authenticity--Super Bowl patches on player jerseys, on-field refs (that you knock down as readily as those on the sideline), hand towels in player pants, secondary team color gloves, and more. It sounds like it will be an NFL-minutiae-lover's dream.

Refs are on the field in Madden 10, and they can take a pounding just like the players.

There are still a ton of unanswered questions about Madden NFL 10. Last year's game featured a rather bare-bones online league implementation, and while producers weren't willing to go into more detail about online details in this year's game, they did mention that the dev team is working on new features for both competitive and cooperative online play, the latter of which certainly has us intrigued. In addition, we're curious to see how the franchise and superstar modes have improved since last season. We'll hopefully have more answers at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which is when we'll get our hands on the game for the first time. We fully expect the Madden information to continue flowing before then, however, and you can keep up with all of the latest news over at the GameSpot sports blog.

Discussion

182 comments
gogmagog4
gogmagog4

Beast gamer are you an idiot

kargion
kargion

@ayhokkuu if you have not gotten a madden game in 3 years how do you know its dead? If its dead why does it top the charts in sales every year it comes out? If its dead why do pre-orders top the charts for it? Everyone who i know where i live is getting madden lol its been that way even before i every played madden. No matter what you guys think Madden games will never be dead. Sound like you just don't like it, not that madden is dead.

cooster14
cooster14

Just downloaded the demo and I actually liked it. I use to play madden 01-04, but switched to 2k5 and fell in love with that game. After that it was hard to play madden again, I bought 2 games 06 and 08 but never was able to get into it. But after playing the demo I have to say they actually made a madden with deep and easy gameplay that can also be called football. I will be picking up this game. Good job EA.

ramman11
ramman11

@ ayhokkuu O i'm white and i still play madden

ramman11
ramman11

@ayhokkuu if u really watched football youd know the stadiums are FAR from perfect The madden series is definately not dead sure they havent updated much other than the online gameplay but i feel the game is smoother every year and all it will take is an updated superstar and franchise mode and everyone will be raving and

ayhokkuu
ayhokkuu

@criagm80, i agree @ipartrickstar, i agree with you too. the madden series is long dead. all they do is make better graphics every year. this one doesn't even have better graphics then 09 lol. i'm not going to lie, i've put my madden games in the closet alongside my wii fit board and my rockband stuff. it's old. and there's nothing much else you can do with it. you've added all the little stuff, you've made every little thing from the stadiums to the fans to the flags to the players to the fields perfect. it's been perfect for 5 years. the only people that still play madden are black people (not to be racist or anything but it's true, most of my best friends are black) and people that are cautious about what other people think about them. i find myself doing pointless stupid things with madden like i do with halo glitches. it's become a time waster. and also @ipatrickstar, i'm definitely not getting this, and i haven't gotten a madden game in 3 years.

Nene626
Nene626

@craigm80..... aaaaaaaaahhh man thats some funny S#*&..... i have 20dllrs on this guy being a loner who spends all his might trying to bash on a game that he couldnt probably beat the computer poor guy tsh tsh tsh!!!

craigm80
craigm80

So, we come across another Madden game this year...what's going to be the big problem now, EA? Too much gang tackling? Too many fumbles? Too many refs getting in the way of key plays? Let me put it this way - when a video game prostitutes itself to a TV show on ESPN2 featuring a bunch of fat ass, non-athletes acting like they're all that and completely bashing their opponents to their faces, it's time to put the game down for good. That show is a complete waste of time. I'm sorry - people have to wake up and see that the Madden franchise has been dead for over 5 years now and will continue. There's too many unnecessary features that have bombed ("Be A Superstar", the "QB Vision Cone", and the multiple missed attempts to make the franchise mode like an NFL franchise), and certainly not enough quality put into the actual football product that made the game great in the first place. Wake up, everyone! Send EA a message by not buying the game. I'm not...

Nabz034
Nabz034

The new Madden Demo sucks Balls...Very Slow Gameplay, I feel like they took away the Hit Stick Feature, every play ends with some silly cinema, EA basically Took all the good things out of '09 and added in some Bull S#$t... EA, I hope you read this and fix the game before it is released, cause the demo I played was TERRIBLE!!!! You Idiots!

BeastGamer
BeastGamer

@lpatrackstar I guess so, but are nfl 2k games still in production?

lpatrackstar
lpatrackstar

Because 2k games already had half the stuff this game is supposedly "introducing." Gang tackles been there done that. QB flick the right stick to evade tackles 2k had it. The little touches of realism 2k had it all. Its bout time Madden took some notes if its gonna be the only game on the market. Uhhh I cant wait til this stupid NFL exclusivity runs out!

BeastGamer
BeastGamer

Seems promising. And i dont know how people think 2k games are better.

lindseyiluvyou
lindseyiluvyou

College or NFL? Hmmm.... this decision is gonna kill me

bigkillerj1
bigkillerj1

I love football too much not to buy this years Madden regardless of how often it's done me wrong in the past. Damn exclusivity and it's oppressive ways. Honestly though...if 2K was still in the mix...I'd most likely get both at some point anyway.

EscoBlades
EscoBlades

This is a must buy for me every year.....i love Gridiron, and i love the Madden series of games. And i'm excited to hear about some of the new features being implemented too. Now, where did i put that "Hit Stick"?

Soviet1232
Soviet1232

Even though this isn't football, i was taking some looks at the college and pro basketball games and comparing the scores for the EA games and the 2K games......2K was always better. IrishHenry is right, EA can take a lot from 2K past games that always seemed to be a hell of a lot better.

IrishHenry
IrishHenry

I have to agree with everyone that the Madden Franchise needs a hell of a lot more work every year than adding the random, camera flashes and refs. Last time I checked people do not tune into games on sundays to see cameras flash or refs running around, it is all about the game and players. If those at EA Sports would ever read some previews/reviews and pick up the 2k5 game to just get the feel of what a football game should play like then maybe their company wouldn't be losing a billion dollars each year.

rudeboy1292
rudeboy1292

wat? how about having puttin man coverage in the game the pass d-fense in 08 was horrible, the o-line was unstoppable, the computer on all madden has a robo qb and playing the game on all-pro was too easy adding the refs is gud but are they gonna make better callls? will there b new calls and penalties(most likely not ) is their gonna b focus on running the ball (nope just pass all the time) madden games need competition the last time they had competition they had the best madden ever. madden was the best and 2k5 was the best football game ever but madden needs to work on the d-fense more instead of trying to change the look every year EA THIS DOESNT HELP GAMEPLAY

razorsedge820
razorsedge820

Hows about fixing that crappy create a team feature. Every year its the same logos and ugly colors. EA can learn something from All Pro Football 2K8. Even though the graphics were bad the game play and presentation was realistic and the create a team feature was the best Ive ever seen in a sports game.

brianlawrence28
brianlawrence28

i love how every year they add in stupid features. wow refs on the field now.. they could of done this a long time ago it seems like every year they will add in some litte feature so they dont run out of ideas in the upcoming years. they need to go all out on a madden game and just have roster up dates of sick of this crap.

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

they need a new name for sequels for EA sports games now. when it was FIFA 09 you'd know its the 2009 version, right? well now it sounds like a tenth sequel, which doesn't sound too great. game looks good though.

Nightrain50
Nightrain50

they need to start offering downloadable rosters I refuse to buy the same game every damn year

Nishua
Nishua

It will be interesting to see how they incorporate the online cooperative play. I haven't bought a Madden since 05 so if things turn out good I MIGHT purchase this one.

MikeDecz
MikeDecz

This will be the first Madden game I'll buy since the Super Nintendo.

tattoo04
tattoo04

i so glad they finally put the refs on the field this makes the game so much more real now if they add back the progressive lighting on the field this could be the perfect football game.i know people gonna fine flaws in this game but i think this could be the best madden ever

Eaglezfreak36
Eaglezfreak36

The graphics look really improved but idk about the gameplay

taj7575
taj7575

EA 1.) Flashing cameras going off 24/7 is annoying as hell. Maybe for the opening kickoff, yes...but not the whole damn game! They're fans not photographers! 2.) The fans from madden 05 from by gamecube looked better than the nonsense now.

OZONEKING
OZONEKING

I wonder if u can throw the ball at the referee...

Djs87
Djs87

I was just referring to the fact that I dont buy many sports games from EA anymore because they refuse to make a decent PC version. Thats all. Why on earth would I ever buy a console with a 4.2ghz i7 and SLI 285 GTX SSC's? Bring this game to the PC w/o the same recycled PS2 GARBAGE!

DeaconHouse
DeaconHouse

Dear Madden developers, Stop making the players look bulky and fat. Next make them look like they move as if they were actually human. Then give up and have Visual Concepts remake NFL 2K5 with current rosters. Love, your mom.

gilljon26
gilljon26

why in the hell dose NBA & other games have deferent camera veiws but madden dosnt ever year i by a game i end up saling the game for a lower price than i payed for the sorry lame camera view. all the madden before 2001 had camera views from deferent angals even had there on DEMO CAMERA now ever game you by now everybody stuck with this same old one track mind cam. like everybody thinks the same but we don't yah your game might sell butt noting like the 2001 with ed. george on the cover no it is'nt crafty as the new game but it gave you T.V. camera view that anybody could understand and made players who did'nt like football try the game out. what kills me is you suckers are always trying to fix something that ant broke but then add something the average player with in the next game that come out want learn until then you guys make a good game but you take away somethings that keep your fans from buying the next copy

gilljon26
gilljon26

these grafx look good hell add some new camera views like sideview or broadcast cam. anything but behind the Q.B. everybody is not the same. you give everybody a chance to have a little fun and watch this game sell big time check my word

gilljon26
gilljon26

oh yah the game dose look good i forgot to say .but this year are we still playing behind the QB i hate that view .broadcast view come on easports or side view 50.yard line up high please

gilljon26
gilljon26

look im new at this blogging but i played madden from 98 to 2002 so im not a new jack to madden but it seem funny that soccer basketball NHL have options to camera angles now don;t get me wrong I steel want games watch have all the add on that madden has to offer defense to offense match-up in whatever but at the same time NBA. NHL .SOCCER still have the option to play in any angle. I stop playing madden in 03 through 04 until ESPN 05 and for $19.00 with the game play camera angles and graphics I got addicted I had to learn the buttons but l haven't seen any competition in any madden game sence then and madden still charge $60.00 for the same game in 09 as 08 and only changed rookies and commetary and a hard to get to hit sticks so I understand you working hard and your time is short but you got the NFL rights in 1 year you can get new camera angles in 1 year come on madden easports get it right

costlywar
costlywar

I have to agree with those of you who see right through EA Madden Football games. Every year we all hope to see if Madden football will be ALOT better then the previous years. And every year we get the same old song and dance. We see these teaser trailers and get high expectations only to find out its only TWEAKED!! I used to enjoy Madden Football, until 2K5 came out. Then I realized that EA could've done better than 2K5.......But they did'nt. Oh yes, the players look improved, and there are more refs? But Wait! This is the 2010 football game, the players should look good and there should be more than 1 ref. Now we have protect the QB feature, so if you are on defense good luck with trying to sack the QB. Its smarter to rent the game than to GIVE $60. Waiting for the details 2K5 had that EA Madden could've had. Who knows, maybe I'll change my mind. For now 2K5 is still king.

TXDRiPpA
TXDRiPpA

We need better WR animations. More then half of the time the player doesnt even try and go up and get the ball, and it is very annoying. They stand there all dumb and stupid not doing anything about it. Also i think it is to easy for a DB to catch up to the ball when throwing deep and just jumps up and knocks it down. When a corner is beat, they should be beat period!

logankiller11
logankiller11

Out of all of the new features I think the fact that they actually create a pocket and they let you know when you're about to get sacked is the best. Madden 09 was alright but the fact that every time I hiked the ball I had to backpedal just to avoid a sack kinda pissed me off a little. And the blockers actually block is a good feature too unlike last year when you received the ball the blockers would block untill the ball carrier got beside the blocker then they let the guy who was tryin to tackle you go. Thats why i've only ran one punt back and it was with Reggie Bush.

omarwalker45
omarwalker45

I started playing Madden religiously in 03 when Marshall Faulk was on the cover. Madden has been the top football franchise up until NFL 2k5 came out. 2k5 was by far the best football game ever, and to me it still is. Way before it's time. Because I'm a football fan, I'll continue to buy Madden every year, (like most football fans are "forced" to do) but I'm really hoping this year the game is as improved as they say it's gonna be. I've got my fingers crossed...

orbitj
orbitj

Ebaumisnoob ! ! ! are u kidding me , , sorry u were picked on so much in high school. just keep playing your rpg's and fps pretending u are the hero and the mean jocks and cool kids are the bad guys,, just try not to weep and sob so much that your cheetoh's-orange stainded fingers get all oily all over your moms basement furniture !

JonWatt
JonWatt

Forget the ball carrier. I am going to knock some refs around

xscrapzx
xscrapzx

to ebaumisnoob: Its a football game! How much difference do you want? Its for people who like the NFL and get hyped for the new season every year. I understand why a lot of gamers wouldn't like because it is indeed repetative in the fact that it is a sports game, what do you want them to do? Add guns? :|

Ebaumisnoob
Ebaumisnoob

Madden represents the utter degradation of gaming, and a reason to hate EA: The same, washed up crap every year which makes retarded jocks have a footballgasm. I hope EA just scraps Madden and starts making games that have depth and non repetitive game play

Beesters
Beesters

yes the ref is in play, you can hit him, throw a ball at this face

Staryoshi87
Staryoshi87

I didn't buy the last one, but I think I'll pick up '10. I go every-other-year lately.