games / Reviews

Madden NFL Arcade (PS3, Xbox 360) Review

December 15, 2009 | Posted by Trace Aber

Title: Madden NFL Arcade
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Genre: Sports, Arcade
Players: 1-4
Rated: E for Everyone

Regardless of what you think about EA Sports and their monopoly on sports games in general, one thing you must give them is that they typically provide the most realistic and immersive titles to date. Of course, there also comes a certain complexity with them that can turn off many gamers who simply want to play a game – not learn every facet of the sport. Realizing this, EA Sports took a few steps back, turned down the complexity and gave us Madden NFL Arcade, a downloadble game that feels more like a video game and less like an actual football game. And what we get is a really fun game that delivers on its promise – it plays and feels like an arcade game, Madden style.

The first thing you notice is just how stripped of rules this game really is. You’re playing on a 60-yard field with no coin toss, no first down, no time limit and no penalties. There’s also a sparse playbook (consisting of 3 passing plays and one running play on offense, 3 passing defense plays and one blitz play on defense) and only one way to win – get to the set score limit before the other team. There’s no longer a huge learning curve to win at a football game, which means players can jump in and after five or ten minutes be playing competitive games against the computer or some friends. In short, Arcade doesn’t care if you know the ins and outs of football – all that matters is whether or not you get the big hit and score the most points. It’s refreshing in today’s world of ultra-realistic gameplay.

As with any arcade game, there are certain power-ups that players can obtain. In Arcade, these power ups are called Game Changers and the name fits. Featuring thirteen in all, these can range from skill boosters (such as fast past) to quite literally changing the face of the game (as seen in Flip Flop, in which the scores of each team are switched). For players who would rather player without the Game Changers you can turn them off in the options menu.

All thirty two teams in the NFL are playable, including their stadiums. You will not, however, have the full NFL roster and instead the game gives you the top five defensive and offensive players on each team according to preseason predictions. There are no injuries or substitutions, so some players may be dismayed to find out their favorite player didn’t make the cut, but if it’s that important those people probably play Madden 10 already.

One of the more disappointing things about the game is the lack of any other mode outside of quick play or online play. Anybody who plays football has the ultimate dream of winning the SuperBowl, but that’s not even touched upon in Arcade. While playing the computer might be entertaining for a short while, it’s hard to really get into it when you’re not really playing for anything. Luckily, anytime you can play with others the game is a blast, but solo players should be cautious of the lack of depth.

The graphics are done in an almost cartoon caricature as far as the actual players are concerned, but this actually helps the arcade feel of the game. The stadiums and fans did not get as much attention as they did in Madden 10, but I didn’t expect specific details like that on an arcade release. That being said, however, everything works together and creates a unique visual experience that sets itself apart from other football games. The sound, on the other hand, is pretty disappointing. There’s not a whole lot in that department and it honestly feels like the sound was an afterthought to EA. Typically, EA includes a decent to great selection of music in their games, but apparently the sound crew was out sick or something.

The 411

Overall, Madden NFL Arcade is a great game to have around when you’re hanging out with a group of friends or just looking for some quick pick up and play football. Unfortunately, playing solo will make you grow tired of the game quickly as there’s not a lot of depth. Still, for those players not wanting to learn the ins and outs of Madden 10, this is a great and fun alternative that’s well worth the asking price.

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Trace Aber
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