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Madden NFL 10 (Wii)

Rated: 3+.

Story: Two lines of men wearing helmets and Dynasty-size shoulder pads charge at each other, a ball flies through the air, some of the men fall over and then everyone has a little rest.


Gameplay: Pick a play, put the ball in motion and then flail the wiimote around, hoping it does something.

Save System: Automatic save after each game.

Comments: I'm probably quite unusual in that I'm from the UK and yet I've played some form of American football. It's like finding an American who's played cricket - it doesn't happen much. Admittedly, it's only a low-violence 'touch' variant I've tried but I had to play it a lot when I was an exchange student in Illinois. I was unexpectedly good at it, too. My normal habit in team games of running away from the ball and keeping clear of trouble at the far end of the pitch turned out to be a winning tactic. The play would start, I'd leg it to safety, everyone else would charge at each other in an apparent desire to form a large heap in the middle of the gym, the ball would sail over the top of them and I'd clumsily catch it. Touchdown! I never entirely followed what was going on but, to this day, I still find American football strangely soothing to watch if I'm up late at night feeling unwell.

Basically, I have more clue about American football than many Brits. Even so, it's a while since I've been so befuddled by a game as with Madden NFL 10. Over the years, I've got bored by inaccessible games featuring micromanagement of the ecosystem in a small puddle, I've been laughed at by music games that have shown up my rhythm deficiencies, I've had my fingers tied in knots by action games with overly-gnarly bosses and I've risked RSI from any number of incompetently implemented Wii party games. I've very rarely, however, experienced a game where I've simply stared at the screen in bafflement and had no clue what was going on or what I was supposed to be doing. Honestly, I spent half my first game attempting to control the wrong team. The really weird thing was that my actual team's performance got worse after I realised my mistake...

There are plenty of options and modes in Madden NFL 10 but there's no proper tutorial. Since American football takes place in a series of short bursts where everything moves at once, it's hard to experiment with the controls and grasp what's happening. If you don't have a good idea what the real game involves, you'll be totally lost.

Beyond that, I can't make much comment. If you're an NFL fan, there's a lot here, including licensed teams, advanced controls and a host of multiplayer variants. If you're just wondering what American football is all about, though, you might be better off hunting out a previous version on the cheap or just staying up late and watching Channel 5.

Conclusion: A polished game of American football. (If that's what you want...)

Graphics: Not hugely detailed but very fast.

Length: More than enough American football to keep you going for ages.

Rating: x/5 where x is how much you like (and understand) American football on a scale of 1 to 5.


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