Madden 09 All-Play Impressions

Posted August 25th, 2008 at 8:24 am

Although NCAA Football 09 began the All Play line of games for the Wii, the first true game to actually represent the ideals is Madden 09. In stark contrast to NCAA, Madden is a fully featured game and is being received well by consumers along with reviewers.

Continue on to read my full thoughts on the game including several videos showing off gameplay from the various modes.

Madden 09 All Play is packed full of features and modes. While Franchise, Superstar, and the 24 mini-games are largely unchanged they all offer unique ways to play. This year Madden has added online and the 5 on 5 mode.

The All Play controls are not very good and I can’t imagine even beginners finding them sufficient. It is supposed to throw to the most open receiver in the area, but most of the time it didn’t do that. Half the time it would throw across the field to someone double covered. The standard controls are much better and more responsive than was seen in NCAA. The game plays pretty close to what you’d get out of the PS2 version.

Call Your Shot is the most heralded feature addition to the game. Essentially you can draw out a route for your receivers from the line of scrimmage. You can see this done in some of the videos I have up. Though it isn’t to the level of the play creator in NFL Head Coach 09, it is nice to be able to alter the play to your liking or design them on the fly. After using it a handful of times though it started to seem a little tedious as you have the urge to do it on every pass play, at least initially, and it does interrupt the flow of the games. It is a good thing that Call Your Shot isn’t available for online games because it would slow them down even more.

I was especially looking forward to the 5 on 5 mode, which opens things up and gives the players a more cartoonish look with big heads. You can change the options around, but default it is first to score five points (TD = one point) and kicking and punting have been removed. You have four chances to score or the ball is turned over. The play selection is very simple with a single run play, short, medium, and long pass. You do get the Call Your Shot though to mix things up.

I found this mode to be a lot of fun head-to-head but against the CPU it is brutal. The CPU AI is absolutely terrible. The QB will run on 4th down even though they should be throwing into the end zone, the CPU QB gets sacked probably half the time, and the CPU players run straight out of bounds with no defenders around them. This is a mode that needs to be played against another person to enjoy. It’s too bad that it isn’t offered online because I’d actually rather be playing 5 on 5 online than the standard games.

Campus Legend mode would seem to be an ideal fit for the Wii. I’ve always felt that controlling a single player would be much more natural with the motion controls than playing the standard way with a team. I’d probably take this mode over the others for single player use even though it still has its issues. Not much has changed with it as it still includes the influence points that have curtailed my enjoyment of the mode in all versions. Luckily it does allow you to alter the depth charts and get your player on the field.

The coach calls all the plays but as the QB you do have Call Your Shot available which I was happy to find. Choose between the All Play or standard controls. You do have full control over your team, both offense and defense, except when your player is in the game. When he is in the game you have sole control over him including the unique camera angles. Some of the cameras are better than the others. In the video you’ll see some action from the perspective of QB Matt Ryan, RB Darren McFadden, and FS Tyrell Johnson. The camera for defensive players is zoomed in and slanted too much towards the QB which makes it really difficult to play.

I wanted to test out the online play as the performance is ultimately what would make it worthwhile or not. I was surprised to find in the couple games I played that there was little to no lag. They’ve also attempted to bypass the whole ridiculous friends codes by adding in the EA Messenger and the game is receiving roster updates this year. It is a shame that they didn’t get the 5 on 5 mode in since that probably would’ve been more appealing to the crowd on the Wii. I found it difficult to stay interested in a 45 minute standard game, especially after having considered myself long past the old generation of Madden.

Overall EA did a good job of differentiating the Wii version from the others by offering a wide array of modes and options. It’s a fun game head-to-head game and really that is what most of the Wii consumers are looking for. Very few who take sports gaming seriously would make Madden 09 All Play their only Madden purchase as it is more of a complimentary offering to the 360/PS3. It not only works as that but also for the more casual audience who would like a pick-up-and-enjoy type experience.