Madden NFL 10 Hands-On

We check out the Wii version of EA Sports' upcoming football game.

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As we saw in our last look at Madden NFL 10 for the Wii, EA Sports has once again been experimenting with its premier football franchise on the Nintendo Wii. The game's look--with its exaggerated body types full of super-skinny wideouts and extra-beefy linemen--is just one area of change; the game's new control tweaks are designed to make the game of football that much easier to understand for the Wii crowd. At EA's most recent press event in Los Angeles, we got a chance to try out Madden NFL 10 for the Wii to see how the controls are coming together ahead of the game's release this summer.

With a new look and new controls this year, the Madden series continues to evolve on the Wii.
With a new look and new controls this year, the Madden series continues to evolve on the Wii.

While you can expect the standard list of game modes in Madden 10, we got a chance to try out one of the new modes: Madden Showdown. This two-player competitive mode can be played either with five players on a side or with a full squad of 11, and it plays essentially like the sped-up version of football you've come to expect from Madden games.

Before the game begins, you'll be able to choose from a set of game changers that will affect how the game is played. Examples include "invisibility," which will cause players on the field to randomly disappear and reappear onscreen; "fumbilitis," which will cause three fumbles in a row on a single play; and "it's alive," which will make the ball bounce out of multiple receivers' hands during pass plays. There are also game changers that will restrict you to either all pass plays or all run plays. Once you've chosen which game changers you want (if any), you can also make bets on things like which player will win the game or which player will have the most possession time at the end of the game. Feel free to let loose your inner Pete Rose here and bet for or against your own team, if you like.

The play controls in Madden 10 for the Wii are immediately apparent, especially in the passing game. The development team behind the game is trying to make the game more friendly to casual fans, and it shows. When in possession of the ball, you can pull off most of the special moves, like stiff arms, with a mere flick of the wrist. Passing has gotten even simpler--once you snap the ball, you simply point the Wii to the receiver you wish to throw to, and he'll appear as red if he's covered and green if he's open. Of course, things are fluid in the backfield, and an open receiver can quickly become covered (and vice versa), so quick reaction times are a must. Still, for casual fans who might have a tough time finding the open man, it's a handy system.

Spotlight moments turn key game moments into button-mashing minigames.
Spotlight moments turn key game moments into button-mashing minigames.

Expect to see another new feature in Madden 10 known as spotlight moments. They typically happen once or twice a game and will feature a dramatically zoomed-in camera angle and a quick minigame in order to determine the outcome of the play. In the game we played, the spotlight moment happened during a long pass to the end zone, with the camera zooming in on the ball and a pair of hand icons appearing onscreen. The goal in this minigame is to guide your hand icon toward the ball before the time runs out--the player with his hand closest to the ball when the time runs out ends up with the possession (or the swatted ball/interception). The minigame took a bit longer than we expected--developers are still tweaking the length of the spotlight moments--but it definitely added a touch of tension to the play.

While other EA Sports games have gone for a more realistic approach on the Wii this year--think Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 and Grand Slam Tennis--the friendly controls and revamped visuals of Madden look to be trying to rope in as many fans as possible. The game is set to be released on August 14.

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