Madden is back on the gridiron, tossing a long ball for a big gainJohn Madden is back and it looks like we have another successful sequel in his long-running football game series. Last year, I did not play Madden as much as I played Sega’s ESPN NFL Football because I felt the interface was easier to use. Besides, I wanted to get away from Madden, long the undisputed master, to see if anything else out there was worth playing. This year, I went back to Madden because the new game is solid, as usual, and additional features take the game to a higher level, something I thought would have been impossible with a game that had virtually no flaws to begin with.
The major new feature is called Playmaker Control and it allows the gamer to control every little detail of a play on the field whether on offense or defense. For instance, if you have selected an offensive play but as you line up you see something in the defense that you do not like, you can change a receiver’s route by flicking the right analog stick. Of course, you still can call an audible too. And Playmaker Control lets the defense do things like shift its secondary to a particular area of the field or direct its lineman or linebackers to the ball carrier if the offense catches the defense off guard.
What I still have not mastered are the individual blocking assignments that can be done by selecting a player and assigning him to pick up a blitz or a defensive player that got through the offensive line. Decisions like that, as in the real game of football, have to be made in a split second, and I still have not had the time to learn to press all the right buttons quickly enough.
The Verdict: All in all, this game has managed to outdo itself again. But this time it is the game play that has received a major boost, and I am already starting to think that it will be impossible to improve this game next year. I hope I am wrong. I guess the soundtrack could be improved, but that’s about the only thing I can come up with.
Madden NFL 2004
Platform: Playstation 2
Rating: * * * * *
by Brian Lee
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