Commentary

'Madden NFL 10': Five Things to Know

ESPN Video Games' Jon Robinson takes an exclusive first look at "Madden NFL 10," the most anticipated sports game of the year.

Updated: April 28, 2009, 5:10 PM ET
By Jon Robinson

[Continued]

"Madden NFL 10" introduces a new technology system called Pro-Tak. The biggest addition this advanced technology brings comes in the form of gang tackles. In "Madden NFL 10," up to nine-man gang tackles can take place (up from three in last year's edition), and they can be played out in any fashion, as in eight defenders versus the runner, or even four offensive players trying to push four defensive players as they try to move the pile toward the first down. On some plays, the running back gets stood up by a couple of defenders and pushed back to the point where the refs on the field blow the whistle even though he never went down. And on the goal line, if a runner looks to be stopped before reaching pay dirt, you will even see offensive linemen try to hit the pile to help push the ball into the end zone. It's all based on size, strength and the number of guys in the pile.

This might be the most significant difference to the way the game looks and plays this year, and it's a change that definitely helps improve the franchise's realism.

Pro-Tak is a new animation technology that helps drive several new features in the game ... nine-man gang tackles, a brand new pocket for the offensive line, steerable blocks, steerable tackles and the fight for the fumble feature that really lets you fight for that ball at the bottom of the pile.

-- "Madden NFL 10" senior producer
Phil Frazier

"Pro-Tak is a new animation technology that helps drive several new features in the game," Frazier said. "This includes nine-man gang tackles, a brand new pocket for the offensive line, steerable blocks, steerable tackles and the fight for the fumble feature that really lets you fight for that ball at the bottom of the pile.

"This technology is amazing. It allows us to procedurally move players into gang tackles, it allows us to procedurally move the pile, and the nice thing about it is it's not just one offensive guy against eight defensive players. You can have two guys try to wrap the ball carrier on defense, then have an offensive lineman hit the pile from behind and try to move the pile. It's all dynamic, all procedurally done, and it really allows us to blow out the animations."

Frazier broke down how Pro-Tak handles those fumble piles. "You don't literally try and bend a guy's fingers back or anything like that, but that's the background intent. You hear all these stories about what goes on at the bottom of the pile, and we like to think of the button-mash for the ball as one of those things that you're doing. It's not like the X button is twist the wrist, but you have to pound the buttons in order to fight for the ball.

"The ball hits the ground, and this doesn't happen with every fumble, but if there is a situation where two or three guys are right there, then they'll jump on the ball. You're unclear over who has the actual possession, so we cut to a cut scene, and that cut scene will show players jumping on the pile and fighting for the ball. Then, during that cut scene, we are going to flash a button, and that button you have to button-mash as fast as you can. We are also going to show a meter, and that meter represents possession, and it will either point one way or the other. You basically fight throughout the cut scene, then when the referee comes in and pulls the players off, we finally reveal who recovered the fumble."

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