If Gameloft's NFL 2010 is Rookie of the Year (reviewed separately), Electronic Arts' Madden NFL 10 is the grizzled veteran, that guy who's headed for the Hall of Fame on the first ballot but is still playing and having a blast. It's the videogame football equivalent of Brett Favre, minus the two retirements and un-retirements.
Hmmmm ... Wonder which team I like?
Comparing the two games side-by-side, it's not hard to quickly see where Madden shines: the graphics are nicer, the interface is more intuitive, and the little touches are there, such as the ability to tap the screen and hurry your team to the line of scrimmage, which is vital when time is running out and you don't have any time-outs. The depth of the console version of Madden isn't here, of course, but you can play an exhibition contest or a season (no playoffs-only mode, like NFL 2010 has), with plenty of stat tracking and roster moves available during the latter. (Yes, all the real NFL teams and players are included here, along with the real stadiums, which NFL 2010 doesn't have.)
Check out the realistic stadium; I prefer NFL 2010's kicking game to this one, however
The depth of Madden's playbook is comparable to NFL 2010's, although you have the ability to flip plays, as well as draw new routes for receivers before you snap the ball. The latter is a really cool feature that's a great example of using the iPhone's touchscreen to good use during development. There's also a button that lets you see the play you selected laid against the field, so you can measure it up against the defense, which is another nice touch.
Madden shares NFL 2010's ability to slow down time and choose from various moves, such as trying to fake out a defender or leaping to block a pass. Unlike NFL 2010, however, the game only slows down for a very short period of time (NFL 2010 gives you all the time in the world to make your choice, which removes the feel of being in the heat of the moment), and certain functions, such as the spin move, are always available on the screen.
Slowing down time on defense
When throwing the ball, you need to tap the desired receiver, like NFL 2010. And as in that other game, I found it annoying to have to tap somewhere on the screen and obscure part of it. I would prefer to have buttons at the bottom of the screen corresponding to my receivers. However, Madden uses more intuitive icons above the receivers: red means they're covered, yellow means you might be able to zip it in there, and green means they're open. NFL 2010 uses the same colors but sticks a different symbol, rather than the same circle, above the players, which is distracting.
John Madden supplies his distinctive commentary, of course, along with Cris Collinsworth, who took Madden's place at Al Michaels' side for Sunday Night Football this season. (Madden is now retired from sportscasting.) A third guy also pipes in now and then, although I didn’t recognize his voice. Most play-by-play and commentary in sports games is pretty forgettable, but Madden is so much fun to listen to that he's the only one I've really ever enjoyed in a videogame.
One last note: Next time, I could do without advertising during the game, especially a big in-your-face one for DirecTV that appears at halftime.