Madden 10 does have an inadvertent method for preventing too many breakaway plays, which takes the form of poor downfield blocking. Imagine running the ball up the field. You've blown by the linebackers and the corners, and there's only your back holding the ball, a teammate, and a safety. Too often, your teammate will run in the opposite direction (back toward the linebackers) instead of running forward and taking out the safety to clear your way to the end zone. This also happens near the line of scrimmage where the fullback will occasionally run forward and then suddenly dart to the side and completely miss the linebacker who's bearing down on the halfback. Of course, these things happen in the real NFL, so it's not unreasonable to expect them here, but they happen too often.
There are similar gaffes in the overall defensive schemes of AI opponents. In most games, it genuinely feels like the AI sees the plays you're running, analyzes what's working and what's not, and then adapts accordingly to shut you down. There are also times when you have to work the run before you can get any sort of passing game going. Then there are the stretches in a drive of a different game where you can run the same play repeatedly, and no matter what the AI does, it can't seem to stop you--and this is with the AI using some of the best defensive teams in the league, no less. Still, it's worth noting that pass defense is generally better and more realistic, and it's far more difficult to abuse the same pass play made to the same player on back-to-back downs, even on slant routes. The AI also seems to be particularly adept at making it difficult to throw the ball more than 15 yards down the field in a consistent manner, but this better pass defense also means that the frequency of interceptions is still relatively high.
Part of the reason the pass defense is better is that quarterback behavior falls more in line with real-world boundaries. If a quarterback who has no scrambling ability at all tries to throw a ball on the run, there's a good chance he's going to fling the ball up in the air with little accuracy. Likewise, if your quarterback doesn't have the best arm strength in the world, then you simply shouldn't try to launch the ball down the field. It's important to find a rhythm and to pinpoint the things your quarterback is good at doing as opposed to trying to abuse the same routes and force the ball down the field. And if you get to the point where you can combine that skill with the ability to identify a blitz, you can kill the defense with a huge gain almost every time. But one major complaint with the position is still this: Quarterback sneaks are still way too easy to abuse. Forgoing a punt and running a QB sneak on fourth and two should be a much greater risk than it currently is.
Injuries happen way too often.
It's worth mentioning that fatigue on the default setting plays a much greater role than it did in previous games, which makes it harder to abuse other types of plays. If you keep passing to your star receiver, that receiver's stamina will drop to the point that he automatically gets pulled for a play or two before being sent back into the game. The same applies to your running backs. Unfortunately, the game also seems to punish repetitive play-calling with injuries. Your teammates go down way too often in Madden 10. Most of the time it's a small injury that takes a player out of the game for a few plays, but the bigger injuries (ones that take him out for the rest of the game) occur more than you'd suspect or want. There are some occasions when you have the option to bench a player after his injury has been assessed. Oftentimes, however, he'll automatically return to the game even if the injury has been deemed as "medium," which means there's a high risk for an even more severe injury.
Madden 10's look is an improvement over last year's game, but most of it comes in the form of finer details on the player models, such as patches, and presentation elements that help give the game a more broadcast-TV feel. Cutting back on the number of referee deliberation cutscenes would have been nice. As it stands now, they run far too often. In addition, the stadiums look fantastic, but there are some nitpicky issues here and there. At various times, and for no discernable reason, the fans in the stands will face the wrong way with their backs turned to the field. Also, the depth-of-field effect (where objects in the foreground are blurred) looks way overdone in some of the cinematics and tends to cause a slight visual distortion on the field before a play, albeit for just a second or two.
The commentary is by far the weakest aspect of Madden NFL 10's presentation. As always, Chris Collinsworth tries his best to make some interesting comments in certain situations, particularly on the special Backtrack replay segments where he breaks down the play and shows you what went wrong. He's not really the problem, but his play-by-play man, Tom Hammond, is absolutely terrible. His commentary is completely bland and lacks any sort of dynamic that gives context to on-field action aside from the most basic observations. And because he's terrible, there's rarely interesting second-to-second commentary or back-and-forth chatter between the two. There are also moments when it seems like there should be commentary from Hammond (or Collinsworth, for that matter), and there's just none at all. This is especially noticeable in the pregame segments and at the end of a game.
Don't really need to see this again.
There's a real sense that EA wants to get back to the fundamentals of football with Madden NFL 10, and many of the changes it has made in that respect are good ones. The running game feels great, and the passing game is much improved over previous iterations. The Pro-Tak system works just about as well as you'd want it to, and the inclusion of online franchises (while featuring some dubious options) is a pretty good reason to dive into this year's game. Even the new online co-op option, which lets you and another player take on the computer, is a nice addition. There's just something satisfying about completing a bomb to a receiver controlled by a friend and not the AI, but this mode still needs some attention when it comes to camera work and positioning--it's a little too disorienting and a little too close to the action. But for all of these improvements, there are seemingly an equal number of nagging setbacks, ranging from the frequency of turnovers to inconsistencies in AI-controlled defenses. Of course, these don't sink the entire Madden 10 experience, since it's still a fun game to play, but a little more tweaking in these areas could have gone a long way in making this the best Madden to date.