Fear of scraped knees and tough tackles has long led the faint of heart away from rough and tumble American pigskin in favour of dainty touch football.
Madden NFL 10 gives the sport back its edge with hard-hitting touch-enabled play. While a couple of missing features prevent it from turning over an ideal game, it touches down with great core football mechanics and intuitive controls.
Great passing, running, and kicking - Madden NFL 10 has it all. Much of the game's stellar play has more to do with proper execution in a number of key areas than use of the touchscreen, though the intuitive nature of touch controls only reinforces a fundamentally solid game.
Deep offensive play illustrates the point. Dozens of passing, running, and special plays are easily adjusted by calling audibles. Sliding a finger across the screen to redirect a play is both effortless and functional, adding much needed depth and customisation. The ability to draft custom plays and compile your favourites into a personalised playbook is all that's missing.
Great plays are nothing without fancy footwork, though. Manoeuvring after the snap is a breeze on both offence and defence thanks to clear, concise options. The running game is nicely tuned, giving you access to left, right, and spinjukes, as well as a rush tactic for barrelling through an opponent. These prove effective in earning you yardage, ensuring balance with the passing game.
Colour-coded icons signal a receiver's ready status, a tap of an icon passing the ball to the corresponding player. Completions rely on skill instead of chance, the appropriate play and lead time rewarding you as such. It's a marked difference from the unreliable passing in NFL 2010.
Madden NFL 10 unquestionably provides the better kicking mechanic, too. Angle and power gauges are replaced with an inventive vertical kick meter. Moving a finger down and back up the meter sets the power and accuracy of the shot based on how your finger moves on the screen. Not only is it intuitive, but it's highly precise in responding to tiny variations made by your finger.
Things are just as tight on defence where offensive tactical depth is nearly matched. Dives, power tackles, and swats let you counter rushes and passes. Beyond parity in tactical options, Madden NFL 10 achieves balance between offence and defence so that it's fun to play whether you have possession or not.
Unfortunately, you're limited to having fun with yourself since the game omits multiplayer of any kind. While promises of multiplayer have been made (no word on whether that means peer-to-peer or online), right now it's all about Season mode.
At least there's enough to tinker with in Season mode - depth charts, trading and signing new players - to keep you busy until the multiplayer that should have shipped with the game comes into the mix.
While glaring in its absence, the lack of multiplayer doesn't affect the core of Madden NFL 10. This is a phenomenally polished game that pairs solid mechanics with intuitive controls. Finally, you can be proud to be a touch footballer.