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Video Game of the Week – Madden NFL 10

Each year around this time, football enthusiasts start to get a little excited. Training camps have been open for two weeks and pre-season games are already underway. In just over three weeks it starts for real. Also, it’s time for the latest edition of Madden, the annual update of one of the most popular video game franchises of all time!

This year’s release of Madden NFL 10 marks the 21st year of the football simulation game from EA Sports. In that time, it has sold over 75 million copies and generated hundreds of tournaments, most notably the annual celebrity-packed Madden Bowl, which takes place over the Super Bowl weekend.

Each year, the new gameplay or presentational features that have been introduced to the game draw a quick response from the legions of Madden fans, either extolling the virtues of the updates or complaining about some new bug. This year the reception has been fairly subdued, with most gamers appreciating the upgrades and a return to a less glossy, more granular football experience.

The main gameplay update is the introduction of Pro-Tak, a new animation technology that allows up to nine players to be involved in tackles and form a more realistic pocket around the quarterback. There’s also Fight for the Fumble, where the gamer has to scramble for possession when a fumble occurs near two players.

On the presentation side, there’s a halftime and postgame show, as well as The Extra Point, a weekly wrap-up hosted by the NFL Network’s Fran Charles and Alex Flanagan. But perhaps the best innovation this year is the introduction of Online Franchise, allowing up to 32 players to participate in NFL scheduling, live drafts, personnel moves and league message boards.

Overall, Madden NFL 10 will be welcomed by hard-core fans as a return to the game’s roots, eliminating some of the excesses of prior years. For newcomers, it’s a rewarding, easy-to-grasp, hard-to-master gaming experience, best played competitively with friends. If you’re a football fan, you cannot help but enjoy it!

(By the way, fans of the Steelers and Cardinals will not be happy to see Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald on the series cover this year. Ever since EA Sports first started featuring players on the cover back in 1999, many of those individuals have suffered a decline in performance in the subsequent season, often due to injury. The drop-off became known as “the Madden curse”. Perhaps the first-time inclusion of two players on the cover will help break the curse, or at least dilute it!)

Publisher: EA Sports
Platforms: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PSP, iPhone
RRP: from $39.99 to $59.99
ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone

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