Boom! Pow! Wham! The sounds of Madden's return.
Written: Aug 15, 2002 (Updated Aug 16, 2002)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Incredible depth, Mini-camp, Create-A-Play, Online, New commentary.
Cons:Games still take forever, New commentary is boring and repetitive.
The Bottom Line: If you're a real football fan and have a PS2, you owe it to yourself to pick up Madden 2003.
Madden NFL 2003 isn't just the 2002 version with Online play added. I wish people knew what they were talking about when they say that. This game is the deepest, most realistic and by far the best Madden ever to grace a console.
With Sega's NFL 2K series gathering some serious momentum in recent years, the folks at EA Sports knew they had to step it up and that updating rosters for this year's version just wasn't going to cut it. I've yet to play a sports game that's this deep, and I do consider myself a veteran gamer. Heck, out of the twenty PS2 games I own probably half are sports games. For the record I'm not biased towards the Madden franchise, since this is the first Madden I've ever purchased. I also own NFL 2K2, so I intend to offer comparisons throughout this review.
Last year's Madden 2002 was a great game, but it looks shoddy compared to this year's incarnation. The new features simply blew me away. At first glance the new mini-camp mode looks cheesy and redundant. Veteran Madden gamers would probably think it's just for rookies like me who've hardly played the game, but quite the contrary. My friend has owned every Madden since '98 and he's addicted beyond description and so am I. I'm serious when I say I'd buy this game just for that feature alone. Basically what you do is hop on John Madden's Cruiser and go to all NFL cities and complete various tasks like QB accuracy, DB Swat ball, etc. All of them have separate difficulty levels so anyone can compete to earn (froth at mouth) Cheerleader cards and tokens for Madden cards.
Next on the feature's list is Online play, but that doesn't go online until Aug. 27 when the network adaptor is available. The Create-A-Play feature is a cool mechanic letting you customize offensive and defensive formations and plays. This is great for making those bizarre receiver routes you've always dreamed of.
The gameplay has remained pretty much the same, which is what most people like to hear. EA claims they've increased the speed of the game, but I've yet to see it. It may be too slow for some hyperactive people since there are no sliders like in NHL. If you want a more arcade version while still realistic, take 2K3. But if you're a features freak like I am, Madden is still the best in the business. Your defensive players are much smarter and are better at their assignments this year, not getting caught out of position like year's past and getting burned so frequently. Overall, the A.I. both on offensive and defensive is very solid.
The Create-A-Team feature has returned in top form. Change everything from colors, to stripes, on your uniforms then select one of over 100 new logos like a Devil, Beaver, Wolf, etc. You can also use your new created team in Franchise mode and Tournament.
The Franchise mode is obviously where most people will be spending their time. In it you can do the basics like cut your underachieving players, re-sign key free agents, or just throw everyone into a fantasy draft. Where it gets really interesting is in the off season. Now you can scout those prospects, but not every single one of them. You must scout only the ones you think you can draft, as you only have 15 players to scout per round. Once you've drafted them you can try and negotiate their contracts and get them onboard.
Graphically, there are sweet animations like desperation dives, tip-toeing on the sideline, and players tumbling over backwards when hit. The stadiums still look 2-D along with the fans, but the coaches look even better than last year. The players themselves look great, although their faces still could use more detail. The X-Box version is more refined than the Ps2 one, but nitpicking an already outstanding graphics engine would be pointless.
Now for this review to be complete I must analyse the downfalls of this otherwise terrific game. First of all, unless you've got a created player as your running back, going up the middle is darn near impossible to do effectively. The problem is that your O-line just can't seem to create holes big enough for you to fit through, and sometimes you'll also run right into their back, even when you're trying to avoid them. The passing game, while a bit easier this year, is still very tough.
Saving and load times are still pretty long, and the menus are a little slower than I'd hoped for. The new "Audio dream team" isn't exactly what EA is selling it as. With new play-by-play man Al Michaels, who I consider the best in football along with chick Melissa Stark on the sidelines, the commentary should've been dramatically better. Michaels is far better than Summerall, but even so, this commentary leaves a lot to be desired.
There's hardly any interaction between Madden and Michaels, as I imagine they recorded the commentary in two separate locations. Madden repeats himself far too often, as evidence of my first two games I heard the expression, "He can't catch it, when you knock it down." a whopping four times alone. It sounds like they made the audio in a library. Even with commentary volume fully pumped up I can barely hear them. The only real announcing team that doesn't horrendously repeat themselves play after play is NHL's duo. They may be complete goofballs, but at least it's entertaining.
So there you go. My eyes are almost watering from staring at my monitor for so long, so I'll try and wrap this up quickly. The first day I bought this game I poured in eight consecutive hours of football mayhem. The mini-camp mode is just as fun as a crucial playoff game in Franchise mode, the Play Editor is great for cooking up your own wacky schemes, and the new commentary, while it still has a long way to go to perfection, is still more enjoyable than last year's. It may sound like I'm praising this game to death, but how can I not? Simply put, this is the definitive football game to own on PS2.
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