If you're reading this from a line outside a 24-hour Wal-Mart, you've probably already made your choice, but if you're unsure which version of Madden 10 you should buy today, consider how you would most like waste your life.
I got the chance to play both the XBox 360 and Wii versions of Madden 10 this week and like the systems they're made for, the two games are drastically different. Both feature compete NFL rosters, full-season campaigns, co-op modes, online modes, and a slate of mini-games and tutorials. The XBox being the XBox, however, their souped up version takes the realism to insane levels.
Aside from the graphics being just ... wow ... the franchise options are completely over top. I can barely manage my own personal finances, and now I'm supposed to figure out the nuances of the NFL salary caps rules? I'm negotiating contracts with fake Plaxico Burress? He's not even allowed to play real football and he's playing hardball with me. All the headaches and sleepless nights that come with owning a real NFL franchise can be yours!
Of course, if you get off on that stuff (and you probably do) then you are in heaven. One major addition to the game this year, is that you and your friends can create a full online league—a full schedule of head-to-head games, playoffs, trades, stats, even a draft—for up to 32 teams. Do you even have 31 friends? Would they all commit to a full season of video game fantasy football? Are they recently unemployed?
When it comes to realistic simulation the XBox is superior in almost every way, but ... the game so damn hard. I wouldn't call myself a hardcore gamer, but I like to think I have my moments. Still, I could not get this game down to save my life. I got crushed in every round I played on "Pro" mode, and that's the second easiest setting. If, like me, you lack a wide-screen TV, running any kind of passing offense is a major challenge and it doesn't matter because you're going to get sacked on every play anyway. I want to know what's its like to be Tom Brady; I don't want to know what it would be like if I was quarterbacking the Patriots.
The Wii, on the other hand, is the goofy arcade version that allows you to actually play football. Not realistic cover-two misdirection audible-heavy football, but you know ... fun football. The controls are a little harder to get used to at first, and the players are more balloon-like caricatures, but it feels way more like the earlier, sillier versions that made you fall in love with Madden 20 years ago. (Yes, we are all old.) The Wii still has enough of those franchise features to keep you interested and if you want to get fancy with the play calling, go right ahead. But this is the game you can play with both your six-year-old nephew and your mom, and you won't spend two hours of your life doing virtual bench presses at training camp.
So the Madden you choose depends on your personality. Are you a weekend warrior or the "sleep in your office on Wednesday so you can study the playbook" kind of guy?
My favorite feature of the XBox verison is the "Madden Moments," that allows you to recreate (and possibly change) some the best real-life scenarios from last season, including the Steelers' magical game winning drive for the title. As a parting gift to Arizona fans, here's how Super Bowl 43 should have ended....
Madden NFL 10 [more previews and info @ EA Sports]
Madden NFL 10 Review: Slow and Steady Wins the Game [Kotaku]