Madden NFL 10 on the Wii makes some great strides in differentiating itself from its counterparts, but it also neglects the major aspects that make those other versions so engaging.
- Great new visual style
- Five-on-five is available in most modes
- Online play functions well.
- Controls need more precision
- Commentary is still poor
- Franchise and Superstar modes need major attention.
Madden NFL 10 for the Wii continues the trend introduced by last year's game of crafting a football experience that's geared toward the Wii and its control setup. Therefore, it delivers some familiar options, including the All Play control scheme that pares the traditional Madden controls down to a single button and some motion control. Madden 10 pushes this approach even further, not just by introducing new gameplay modes that are meant to capitalize on the inherent multiplayer appeal of games on the Wii, but also by crafting a look that fits better with the lighthearted theme of the game. The result is an experience that's fun the first few times around--provided you can consistently play with friends--but lacks the longevity to keep football fans coming back.
That's partly because the traditional mainstay Madden modes, like Franchise and Superstar, still haven't received much attention, if any at all. In fact, they use the same interface and mechanics as previous iterations of Madden on the Wii, so they don't reflect this year's philosophy of making features more Wii specific. What's even more curious is that these modes aren't available off the bat and have to be unlocked, no matter if you want to build up a franchise over the course of the season or create a rookie who has to prove himself and climb through the ranks, you have to either work for it.
It seems like an odd move for any football game to hide typically prominent and more in-depth modes in the background, but maybe not as much for Madden NFL 10 for the Wii--the simple reason being that there's a clear emphasis on playing with other people in the pick-up-and-play modes instead of engaging in the solitary experience of worrying about trade deadlines, injuries, or salaries. But if there's any single mode that's comparable to something like a franchise mode without the aforementioned details (aside from the franchise option itself), it's the Road to the Super Bowl mode.
This mode lets you play a full season, a half season, or just the playoffs with local players cooperatively, and the idea is for you and other players on your team to play as well as possible throughout the season to earn points (rewarded for gaining yards, making catches and tackles, or scoring touchdowns) and avoid being benched during a game. Players get benched when an arrow on a colored bar located next to their Mii falls into the red, but you can get them off the bench by spending some of your own points. But if any players get benched that means they are doing something seriously wrong, like running in the wrong direction on every play. Plus, Madden generally automates the experience for people who don't know what they're doing, so you could drop the controller entirely and still be in no imminent danger of heading to the sidelines. From the competitive perspective of earning more points than everyone else and as a simplified stand-in for franchise mode, Road to the Super Bowl does a fine job, but the threat of being benched rarely feels serious.
If it's a strict competition for points you're looking for, then the new Madden Showdown mode is a better option anyway. This mode takes the basic rules of football and lets you toggle several variables. Selecting the invisibility option makes players on the field disappear for short periods of time, which makes it more difficult to see an oncoming sack if you're on offense and a defensive lineman isn't in your vision. Fumblitis causes a fumble anytime a ball carrier gets tackled by a defensive player, while the turbo option speeds up the game significantly. There are also options to set a game to all passing or all running plays, or you can just hit the random option and see what happens. Madden Showdown also ups the competitive element by allowing you to place bets on certain aspects of a game. If you think you're going to beat your opponent or throw the longest pass during the competition, then put some points on it.
This mode doesn't have much single-player appeal, aside from the initial goofiness of playing at a breakneck speed or watching players constantly fumble the ball. It's more entertaining when other players are there to laugh at these things with you, and placing bets against another human and winning those bets is far more rewarding than exercising bragging rights over an opponent who doesn't actually exist. But the novelty of playing a goofy game of football still fades rather quickly after you play through all of the options, making it feel more like a standard multiplayer game of football.