Madden. A word that carries with it the connotation of excellence. Madden NFL is the single most popular video game franchise in the history of video games. Well then what would make this year any different? Once again, EA Sports goes one-up on all other football games on the market.
There are a couple new things to know when starting your new dynasty on Madden NFL 09. One of the features that critics have been raving about is the all-new Madden IQ. When you start the game for the first time, you will have the opportunity to take the “Madden Test.” This is a series of game test that evaluate your personal skill level. The “Star Wars hologram” John Madden will assess your skills and give you a rundown of how it all works. Another new feature, which I find uncharacteristic of Madden, is the new rewind. If you make a mistake or throw into triple coverage, you can use your rewind to get another chance on the play. I've always liked Madden because it was so realistic, which is why I am surprised that this feature was added. However it is nice to see my buddy celebrate his 86-yard touchdown run, only to see me rewind it and shatter his ego.
This year’s visuals are also better than ever. The animations are increasing every year and it is helping the overall feel of the game. However, EA has taken the controls and specifically given the edge to “Madden junkies.” You have the ability to audible without changing formation, fake a play, highlight a receiver to run a smart route, and snap the ball all before the play clock runs out. At the same time the defense can fake blitz, command a linebacker to play QB spy, shift the line, and highlight a receiver for double coverage. Not something the average weekend Madden man is going to do, but there is always the few who just…snap the ball and pass it.
As you start to get a feel for the game you’ll notice some glitches in the interaction of the players. The fact of the matter is that, no matter how hard EA tries, it is still a video game and players don’t have the ability to discern where the sideline is and where the first down is. So you will have numerous overthrown passes that lead receivers straight out of bounds. It is also frustrating to have a receiver catch a ball on third down and not know where the marker is, and then head out of bounds. And of course, the usual…men in zebra stripes will only call holding when you make a big play and they want to frustrate you…and the CPU never bites on play-action passes.
In previous editions, the commentary would be so annoying that I would turn Chris Collinsworth’s voice so low that I couldn’t hear it anymore. With recorded sayings and the same informative comments, I had heard everything before. But now, randomly, Chris will take a minute to break down the last play. He’ll show you where you made your mistake, and how you should correct it. So yes… I repeat, yes, EA Sports has finally done something useful with the announcers!
So once again, Madden has done it. They have raised the bar to exceed every other football game ever! So they have a few animation glitches to work out, no other game plays like Madden, looks like Madden, or feels like Madden. Gamers will always choose Madden and that is still the same for 09.