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With every new Madden release, there are almost always one or two features that get the bulk of the attention — features that not only make the current Madden different from its predecessors, but also seemingly make the upgrade from one year to the next worthwhile. Madden NFL 10 is no different in this respect. Some of its new features are substantial, like the long-awaited Online Franchise mode or the new types of tackles generated by the Pro-Tak system, but it feels like most of what's new in Madden 10 is less glossy and far more granular, affecting only the mechanical aspects of the football experience. It's almost as if Madden 10 represents a back-to-basics philosophy for the franchise, taking the focus away from fancy modes and even fancier presentation elements for the purpose of making the sport itself the main draw, but there are still many lingering problems.

There's evidence of this philosophy in the way prominent features from last year's game take a back seat. For example, last year's Madden Test — which assesses your ability based on a series of cool-looking hologram drills — is back, largely unchanged, but it's buried under the quick-modes option. Even the stylised menus from Madden 09 are gone and have been replaced with a more streamlined interface that lets you get to where you need to go quickly, whether you're signing a free agent or trying to look at some key stats.

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