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 Madden NFL 10 Hands-On

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InFamOusH1TmAn
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PostSubject: Madden NFL 10 Hands-On   Fri May 22, 2009 2:56 am

By Gerald Villoria | May 18, 2009
Madden NFL 10 argues that nothing's more fun than being at the bottom of a pile.

Spiffy:
Pro-Tak should do far more than just improve tackling; more on-the-field drama. Iffy:
NFL rules restrict what EA Tiburon could do with off-the-field drama.
StumbleUponRedditFarkEmail Every year the team at Tiburon is challenged by their EA Sports overlords to do more than simply improve upon the previous year's Madden. They also have to come up with a new gimmick, a new gameplay feature, something that the marketing guys can sink their teeth into, a theme that the new trailers can be based on, and preferably something that their cover athletes are known for.

For example, Shaun Alexander was on the cover of Madden NFL 07, the year that the franchise introduced lead blocker control (in his prime, Shaun ran left behind two of the best in Hutchinson and Jones) and the highlight stick, two features that were meant to vastly improve the fun and quality of the running game.

Madden NFL 10 is adding to the excitement and ambiance of the football experience by injecting the game with more of the drama that you find in the real sport. Injuries will turn into nail-biters, especially if your star player goes down. You'll need to wait on the injury report for a few plays, the severity of the injury a mystery until then. You'll also have a decision to make, as you can keep a hurt player in if he's better hurt than his backup, but that may end up aggravating the injury, costing you more long-term.

Other new presentation features include sideline cut-scenes that should turn Madden into more of a true NFL simulation and less of an arcade experience. Then there's the chain gang, which'll come out to measure for first downs. Best of all, you'll actually get a Super Bowl celebration and ceremony, so the biggest game of the season will feel like more of an event instead of the anti-climax that it has been in the past.

So what's the biggest new feature in Madden NFL 10? When I recently had the chance to get my hands on the game I was most impressed by Pro-Tak.



Pro-What?

Pro-Tak stands for Procedural Tackling, and it's a new animation technology that's part of this whole "Fight for Every Yard" thing that EA Sports is pushing with Madden NFL 10. What it does is allow for the game engine to procedurally manipulate the standard motion-captured animations. This allows the game to still match the look of the NFL from an artistic standpoint, while allowing for more dynamic gameplay and realistic multi-character interactions.

Pro-Tak is about hungry defenders piling on top of Reggie Bush to make him cough up the ball. It's also about Steve Smith getting surrounded by a handful of defenders and magically finding some way to spin out of the crowd and still make it in for the score.

As a technology, Pro-Tak is how the game now handles tackling, allowing for up to nine-man gang tackles. This new technology enables Madden NFL 10 to render the moments where offensive and defensive linemen converge on the ball carrier, fighting to push him forward or drive him back.

It's an overall improvement on the collision detection for players, as evidenced by the improved blocking that I was able to check out first-hand. The pocket feels a lot more realistic from the QB's perspective, and stepping up into the pocket when you have a Defensive End turning the corner on you feels better than ever before. The QB will also be able to break out of tackles, even after the animation begins.

Pro-Tak will have a big effect on the running game, as a player's size and weight will have an impact on how many players it will take to bring them down. Brandon Jacobs is the kind of smashing machine that requires multiple defenders to take down, or he'll run right over you. Smaller running backs generally have higher speed attributes, but now the larger backs will be viable as well.

Fumbles will feel more like a contest than in previous games, where you sort of just hoped to get lucky and recover if the running back didn't secure the ball properly. Now, you'll fight for fumbles with a button-mashing mini-game. No, it's not the most elegant solution, but it's something.

While it may not seem like a new animation technology is a big deal, Pro-Tak will fundamentally affect many different parts of the Madden gameplay experience. Whether or not this ends up being for the better remains to be seen, but first impressions are quite positive.
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