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Game Over Online ~ Madden NFL 2000

GameOver Game Reviews - Madden NFL 2000 (c) EA Sports, Reviewed by - jube

Game & Publisher Madden NFL 2000 (c) EA Sports
System Requirements Pentium 166, 32MB Ram, 225MB HDD
Overall Rating 80%
Date Published Wednesday, September 8th, 1999 at 07:56 PM

Divider Left By: jube Divider Right

The blitz is on. About this time every year a huge amount of football titles hit shelves and all us football game fanatics go into frenzy mode. Which game is worth playing through an entire season? Which one has the best graphics? Which has the best multiplayer? And perhaps most importantly, which has the most realistic slow-motion cheerleader cut-scenes? All these questions, and a number of cheesy football clichés, were on my mind when I went into the huddle with Madden 2000. So Let’s hit the field and see if this play is a touchdown. *cringe*

Let’s be honest with ourselves here folks, the Madden series has never been the champ when it comes to graphics. In fact, it has consistently been beaten by a host of other titles, most notably the Gameday series. And this year’s effort does little to break that trend. Let me clarify that the graphics in Madden 2000 are by no means terrible; they just are below the standards set by other football game series. The most obvious area of graphical improvement is in small additions to the on field experience. Probably the best of these improvements are the fully animated referees. They follow every play down field, and move (or at least attempt) to get out of the way of the ball carrier. This detail, in addition to a number of others, such as heavy breathing after a big run, pad and helmet adjustments, and rendering of the entrances and exits of the offensive and defensive squads make Madden 2000 seem extremely “live” and far less scripted than other football games. However, these small details cannot save the fact that player models are distorted and exaggerated; variances of height and weight are grossly overdone, to almost a comical level. In comparison to another of this years football games, NFL Fever 2000, Madden looks about two years behind the pack in rendering of player and stadium graphics. EA needs to invest major development badly in this area, and has for quite some time.

Sound and Play-by-play is an area that the Madden team has excelled in previously, and it’s no surprise that this year offers more of the same sweets sounds of gridiron mayhem. All the hits, chants, taunts, slams, and crunches and are here for your listening enjoyment. This installment offers a slightly more detailed version of last years play-by-play by John Madden and Pat Summerall. Many of Madden’s comments and quips are noticeably re-used from last year, but many of Summerall’s calls about formations and play setups seem new.

Gameplay is broken up into two recognizably distinct categories. A new addition to the Madden series, Arcade mode simplifies the gaming experience with easier play calling and extremely lenient refereeing. Obviously a response to the success of other arcade-style football titles, like last years NFL Blitz, the arcade mode in Madden 2000 seems fairly uninspired and thrown together. The second category of gameplay in this game is the substantially more meaty simulation mode. Offering a huge laundry list of play modes Madden really aims to please all comers for simulation, career, season, playoff and exhibition gaming.

The best of all these play modes is the Situation mode, which allows you to specify every, and I mean every, detail to create the play, game, and setup of your choice. Finally you can recreate the closing seconds of last Monday night’s game, complete the pass, score the points, and get the babe. Ok, maybe not, but it’s a very cool addition to an already extremely well developed sports simulation. The only thing holding me back from giving full points to the gameplay of this game is a poorly designed menu and play interface. Every year, since the earliest Madden games on Sega Genesis, I have loathed the squiggly line drawn play book, the unorganized and cultured menus and the team season saving options. It’s frustrating, non-intuitive, and worst of all, in all these years, has never been improved!

On field gameplay is a mixed bag, but for the most part I can give a thumbs up for full season gaming. And I seriously mean that. If you are looking for a quick fix game in-between class, look elsewhere. If you are planning on running a 13-week virtual season along side your favorite team, this is your game. Heavy on statistics, trends, and team/player match-ups Madden 2000 comes through for “hardcore” game enthusiasts. The running and passing games are fairly balanced. Running the ball is easier, but yields fewer gains. The Passing game is considerably more difficult, but conversely offers bigger rewards. Another note about the passing game, it’s a huge crapshoot. It takes a serious chunk of time to develop a feel for how receivers run routes, how strong your quarterbacks arm is, how well the defenders can cover, etc. I suggest gamers spend plenty of time practicing a core set of plays in exhibition before running out on into full contact season play. Even after doing so I found my passes easily intercepted, often. There are adjustable difficulty settings to accommodate this, but I found them to be of little help. So take my advice, stay on the ground until you get the feel of the passing system.

Bragging over 200 teams, ranging from all 32 NFL franchise teams to a huge amount of All Madden legend teams, this game offers plenty of return play. Multiplayer leagues and direct TCP/IP games make slamming your friends and colleagues a very distinct option. Multi-season career mode let’s you play as GM with your favorite franchise; will full capability of drafting, trading, and salary cap maneuvering over decades of play. If one can look beyond the poor graphics and initial difficulties in play there is plenty to interest both the seasoned veterans and rookie draft picks. However, don’t let my endorsements cloud the fact that Madden 2000 is far from perfect. There are plenty of areas that EA should revise, most notably the player graphics and horrible menu interface. With that said, and the clock ticking down, let me leave you with one last football cliché. Hut, hut, hike!


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