Let me come forth and say "all I ever learned from football, I learned from John Madden." Scary yet true, and some how make for an awesome t-shirt. Every year Madden pumps out a new game for the consoles. Okay well not literally himself, but a team of people who has been put together to make a football game and just stamp his name on it. But the fact remains, I learned playing football from the Madden franchise. When I go to football games I don't rant and cheer for my team, I actually shout "Hey dummy! Watch out for the double coverage on the left wide receiver and the blitz coming from the right!" If they only heard me...
However, I am also not one of those Madden fanatics who buys every year's Madden. In fact, I usually get every other one. My dad, however, plays Madden religiously. Hands down I already know he's getting the 360 version since he has the powerful hi-def TV and all I have is a standard. But then again, I also have a Wii as well as a 360. A bonus, maybe? I loved the 2007's release of Madden, even though there were some flaws. But now that the 2009's out, why not give that a shot.
Let me get to the basics. It's Madden. If you've ever played Madden NFL Football before, you've played this game. There is nothing different. All that's different is the control scheme. That's it. If you haven't played a Madden NFL Football game before, let me just say now that it's a football game. You run or pass the ball, score, and prevent the other team from doing the same. Now that we've gotten the basic concept of Madden down, let's move on.
What is this "All-Play" feature that's exclusive to the Wii version? All-Play is nothing more than a beginner's tool. If you're new to playing Madden on the Wii, all this do-hickey does is takes away the play clock. That's right, no play clock. That's all. It even says so in the Instruction Booklet. "EA SPORTS All-Play helps enhance your skills in areas like tackling, evading, passing, and kicking without worrying about the play clock." So adding an option to take away the play clock, which if memory serves was an option in the last gen Madden's, warrants an extra title on the box? Who knew?
Sadly the disappointment does not stop there. Like the 360 and PS3 versions where you can go to designated areas, if you so desire, and perform a victory dance, the Wii version pops up with a brilliant display of colors and lights and says "Shake your Wiimote/Nunchuck to cheer." Once was kind of cute, twice not so bad, but every single time I scored a touchdown or sacked the QB and I wanted to cut off my wrists and yell at the TV saying "Hey, I'm sorry. I don't have any hands to shake the wiimote with."
And speaking about shaking your wiimote, the controls are somewhat responsive. The can sometimes be a little too sensitive. Audibles can be quickly deployed by moving the nunchuck in the direction set to your D-pad for audibles. I learned that the hard way when I needed to scratch an itch on my cheek and all of a sudden I called a passing play. And other times it can do the exact opposite of what you planned on doing. For example, it doesn't help when you do a motion for the player to swat the ball going "Hey! Swat the ball!" and the player goes "Tackle the receiver? Okay," and the next thing you know is you have a pass interference penalty.
This is not to say the entire Madden experience has been drained on the Wii version. It is quite an enjoyable game to play and, I might add, the only next-gen version to retain Madden as an actual play-by-play announcer. Quite frankly, that's what make the Madden games the best. It's one thing to hear some random ESPN guy say something obvious about football, but it's another to hear it come out of the mouth of the great John Madden himself like, "You know, when he saw that ball and thought to himself 'Hey, I'm going to catch it and score a touchdown.' And look, that's exactly what he did!" Thanks Madden, I needed that to fulfill my day.
It was also surprising to see that instead of a physical referee in the game, it will randomly select one of your Mii's as the referee. Nothing like having Captain Kirk or the Rayman Rabbit be the referee of my football game.
There's also a "Call The Shots" mode in which you can actually make your own hot route. This was somewhat pleasing as, coming from someone who learned football from this game, I could tell my receivers where to exactly go on a route and pass a ball over the heads of double coverage.
Unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the online for Madden NFL 2009 is quite flawless. Not once did I encounter lag issues or drop outs. In fact it was quite soothing to play a game of football in which I would be taking the lead at half time (21-7, Bills over Chargers) and not hear the other person scream and complain. If you don't feel like creating an EA account you can just sign up as a guest. However creating an EA account is free and you can avoid those silly friend codes, which is always a plus in my book.
Overall, if this is the only next-gen system that you have, or if you have kids that like football, shiny colors, and loves to dance whenever it says "raise the roof," Madden NFL 2009: All-Play is a great game. Graphics haven't changed much, although it is a lot brighter and stadiums have much more attention to detail than previous Madden games. The online is great, and the typical Madden modes of Franchise and Superstar are still there. But if you're a Madden fanatic that has a 360 or PS3 then do not pick this game up. You will be disappointed. The Wii version of Madden is typically more for casual crowds or kids. But of course, there is one thing that this game has that the other two do not, John Madden as an announcer.
Score: 7.5 out of 10