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Madden, Batman, Beatles, and More
Summer Winds Down as Gaming Heats Up

It’s hard to believe the summer is almost gone. In the midst of all the movies and games that released this summer, somehow I lost track of time and now August is flying by on into September. That’s just fine with me because this fall is shaping up to be one spectacular season for video games; but before we get to that we need to kick things off with style with a  little football.

Every August the football season gets its unofficial start with the release of the new version of Madden football. If the information that’s been released so far can be trusted, Madden 10 may be one of the best entries yet. I’ve heard rumors that the online portions of the game have been improved (can you say online franchise?), there’s a new animation routine in place called the pro-tak system that will add even more realism to the tackles, the game has been slowed down to better represent real grid-iron action, and that’s just a few of the things EA has been touting about Madden 10. It all sounds good, but how does it play? Well the exclusive demo was fairly impressive. From a more solid presentation to very solid gameplay on the field, I liked the direction Madden 10 is moving in. My experience simulating preseason games with the final product has been pretty satisfying, too!

The other intriguing element of the Madden release is the Wii version. Ever since Madden debuted on the Wii, it has proved that graphics aren’t the only thing that makes a stellar football game. The motion controls have always been a blast, the exclusive mini-games (such as the two-on-two mode) are a ton of fun, and the “all-play” features that make the game accessible to anyone make the Wii version THE version to play with friends and family. EA is upping the ante even more this year with some really fun new features and a whole new art style that’s slightly more stylized and less realistic. Don’t worry, it looks great and if it maintains the solid mechanics of previous Wii versions, this year’s Wii Madden may be a better choice then the hi-def versions.

Of course the Playbox will have updates, reviews and ongoing blogs for all of the Madden 10 fun. Plus, when the NFL football season gets under way, watch for a weekly series of articles wherein I, being a huge Broncos fan, will try and predict the fortunes of my team after this very volatile off-season. Will a new quarterback, a new coach, defensive changes and some new running backs help change the Broncos fortunes, or should we consider this a “building” season? We’ll see what the crystal ball of Madden 10 predicts and compare those results with real-world results. I admit I’m somewhat nervous about all of this, but it should be a fun series of articles.

Madden isn’t the only thing happening. G.I. Joe has its requisite video game movie-tie-in releasing this month, and we’ll share some impressions from that. Also, the Metroid Trilogy releases this month for the Wii. It’s all three games in one package with new Wii controls for the first two games. All three games were great, and even if you didn’t get new improved controls for the first two, getting the three games for one low bargain price is still one of the best deals of the summer.

And as much as I love Madden, perhaps my most anticipated game of August is the new Batman game, Arkham Asylum. I’ll show you what’s included in the collector’s edition and let you know if this Splinter Cell/Superhero game is the best Batman game yet (which shouldn’t be too hard to pull off, unfortunately). Look for impressions and a full review soon (the game released on August 25).

Finally, not long after this month is over, we’ll start a new series of articles as we follow the career of the Beatles as they become a rock band. Beatles Rock Band debuts September 9 and we’ll bring you coverage of the exclusive collector’s edition of the game as well as music videos from the actual gameplay. That’s just one of the big releases coming next month, so be sure to keep it locked here on the Playbox for all the latest, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for weekly updates. Just visit Twitter.com/GamerYo.

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