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‘Madden’ advances gameplay progression

Sports video gaming’s biggest holiday is today.

The most popular sports game in America celebrates its 21st annual release with the release of “Madden NFL 10.”

Many will have already spent hours with the game after getting their copies at midnight release parties.

This year’s cover athletes are the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu.

It is the first time two athletes have graced the cover, which could spell trouble for two teams if the “Madden curse” rings true again this year — nearly every player who has appeared on the game’s cover has suffered an injury the next season.

The biggest reason to celebrate the release of a new “Madden” game is the progression the game has seen since its first release of the current generation of consoles five years ago.

Each release since “Madden NFL 06” has improved drastically in terms of gameplay since that first edition for the Xbox 360. That game was actually a step back from the PlayStation 2 version of the same game. But after the developers got their feet wet in the early developmental stages of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, they’ve managed to exceed the already high expectations for the franchise.

“Madden NFL 10” appears to continue the progression from what I’ve seen of the game.

It appears the developers continue to go toward more of a real-life simulation of professional football.

Players don’t seem as fast as they have been in past games, and the distinction between superstars and average players is becoming very visible.

The reason the past two “Madden” games improved over previous releases is because the developers focused on the gameplay. They make subtle tweaks throughout the game’s various modes and add a feature or two. But the core goal has been to improve gameplay, and it clearly shows in the finished products.

There is no reason to believe that “Madden NFL 10” won’t continue to follow those same trends, and it just might be the best of the series.

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