The first of five reviews I will be posting for Wii within the next few days...
The Wii version of the game Madden 09 is titled Madden NFL 09 All-Play and was launched under EA Sports' new All-Play brand exclusive to the platform, taking a slightly different approach to the game and taking advantage of the motion controls. This turns out to be a very good thing, however, because upon my first play-through I discovered that nothing beats a Wii game when you make it right.
Gameplay is arguably the most important part of any game, and Madden 09 All-Play is no exception. To start, the game's menus aren't confusing (something the PS3/360 versions didn't do very well, or maybe I'm just dumb) and everything is laid out very simply. In fact, "simple" is a good word to describe the entire game, at least, when you're playing on "All-Play" mode.
The All-Play mode allows players who have no interest in spending hours trying to learn confusing controls to play the game and have the same amount of fun as someone who's using the alternate control scheme. When using All-Play, passes automatically go to the nearest open receiver, and all you have to do is throw the ball. Really, the only things someone using All-Play has to do (unless the nunchuck is attached) is hike, throw, kick, punt, and pick plays. This makes it the perfect game for someone who really doesn't care and wants to have fun, just like the stereotypical Wii game.
But don't think for a second that EA is going to leave out the hard-core sports gamers who want that more in-depth experience. With a simple click of a button, the All-Play option is turned off, and players can experience their games in a more complex way. They can now control running, juking, stiff-arms, throws, kicks, punts, audibles, who they want to pass to, and pretty much everything that someone would come to expect from a football game. But, that is not nearly the end of what gameplay has to offer for the Wii version.
The coolest thing, without a doubt, that I have seen from any football game in the history of video games (with the possible exceptions of the crazy tackles of NFL Blitz and the funny glitches of Madden 02 for N64) is the "Call your shots" feature. Before a snap, so long as the play you intend to run is a passing play, simply push the "A" button and the camera backs out, revealing the paths of the current receivers. From there, simply select the receiver and re-plan their route.
Yes, this is all done in real-time, right before a snap. No pausing or complicated set-up, it's just a quick and easy way to customize plays like never before in a Madden game.
Aside from that, the Wii version offers a unique 5-on-5 mode, a mini-games party feature, a football quiz game, and online play.
Speaking of the online play, I certainly hope no one reading this immediately thought "Ugh, Wii online sucks!", because in this game, it is quite the opposite. Definitely on par with XBL in this case.
The graphics on Wii, as everyone knows, are not anywhere near the gorgeous-osity of the 360 or PS3, but I will say this; Madden 09 is a BAST improvement on the 08 graphics. Other than that, there is nothing to say.
The sound of Madden 09 for Wii was nothing too surprising. However, the addition of sounds from the little speaker on the Wiimote did immerse me more into the gaming experience, so that's a plus. Also, occasionally the quality of the sound coming from the little thing surprised me, and it is in that respect that the sound gets an 8.5, rather than a 7.5
I feel like in most past Madden games, the music has been fully hip-hop with the occasional up-beat rock song stuck in there. Even though it is more even between the two genres now (We Made It by Jay-Z feat. Linkin Park being my favorite), the lack of being able to import my own songs left me feeling average.
The controls, much like the gameplay, are where the Wii version really shines. Now I know what you're all thinking, "Man, throwing the Wiimote to pass and stuffz is stoopid!" But I beg you to listen further. The way the game controls feels very normal, even though to pass you do have to flick your wrist (slowly for a lob, quickly for a bullet pass) it feels very fluid and easy. Juking is controlled via the nunchuk (flick left for a juk to the left, and vice-versa) which also feels fine, so long as you don't have Parkinson's.
There were a few kinks (stiff arming being the only really noticeable one) that need to be worked out, but compared to 08, it is a great relief to see so much effort put in to make the experience much more fun and reliable. Really, the way to game controls is great, and I just can't go back to pushing buttons without feeling somewhat awkward anymore.
Don't be fooled by the All-Play title, Madden 09 for Wii is one that can compete with the big-boys on the 360/PS3 despite the fact that it's on "a system that only has mini-games and gimmicks". I for one prefer it over the other two for one reason: The Wii keeps it simple and complex at the same time. It doesn't delve into "line of sight" or any of that over the top crap, which makes it much more appealing to me. Overall, a great buy for anyone who loves sports games, but doesn't want to have to memorize a thousand things at once in order to throw a pass.