Review by fastitocalon

Reviewed: 08/26/02 | Updated: 08/26/02

A console competitor or another ugly step child

When i finally got my hands on Madden 2003 I wasn't expecting much. EA had stated that they were releasing the same game for all platforms including the PC but why was I still skeptical? First off the console versions would be shipping on a DVD disc for the Xbox and PS2 and the 1.5gb GameCube disc where as the PC version would be shipping on a standard Cd-Rom. Now for the uninformed a standard Cd-Rom holds 650 to 800mb of data, 1000mb's=1gb so you can see the potential for problems and problems there are.

The biggest omission is the absence of Madden Cards. While not vital to gameplay it adds lasting appeal for people who like to finish everything in a game. Madden 101 also doesn't appear on the PC version, Madden 101 is a guideline on how the sport should be played and while there are football strategists out there i'm sure there are plenty of people out there that don't know the difference between a Post pattern and a Flag pattern. These are not big problems but it is something that needs to be addressed for 2004 if they want to be successful against the console versions.

Graphically compared to the other football offerings on the PC madden is in a class of its own. EA has taken some of its own advice and put in the same sort of excited crowds that they had from World Cup 2002 into this years football title and it greatly adds to the ''in the game'' feeling.

Animation is also top notch, new to this year is gang tackling. Gang tackling is where instead of 1 person only being able to affect the ball carrier if 2 or more hit at the same time it causes realistic momentum changes. This effect isn't perfect but it adds realism to an already realistic game. If you can play this game in 1024x768 resolution or higher your going to be getting an extremely visually pleasing game even more than the console versions. The downside is that the game is a little jumpy. On my system (stated below) I had all options on high and run the game in 1024x768 w/16tap AF and Quincunx AA and during gameplay the game is smooth but between plays and at the beginning of the game it is jumpy. Note this doesn't affect gameplay but is a little annoying regardless.

The gameplay in this year’s version is largely the same. Momentum based movement has been toned down a little bit where if your not using turbo then your player can cut more sharply than in the past. This isn’t a drastic change but it does serve to make running a little bit easier. One thing that hasn’t changed though is on punt returns your blockers still are unable to stop the gunners from forcing you to call for fair catch. This has always been a problem and I’m not quite sure why it has yet to be fixed. This isn’t a big deal but is very irritating and a small enough problem that needs to be fixed.

Online play is good, EA has implemented user names and records keeping for people who want to pay for it. If your not up for paying then you can still play over a tcp/ip connection. Broadband is smooth if you get a good connection/low ping, I haven't tested dial up so cannot comment on that. Online is better then the PS2 version but since Xbox Live isn't up and running so comparing the two is impossible.

Control is made for a controller, playing this game with the mouse and keyboard seems impossible but EA has added a first person mode where you can look around using the mouse. Still go out and buy yourself a controller with at least 10 buttons to enjoy this game and play it the way it is meant to be played.

Audio has benefited from having Al Micheals join the team. I've actually heard madden make one or two relevant comments. Madden also comments on defense something that hasn't been done before. All in all the sound has made the biggest change in this years game.

The meat of this version as has been for a few years now is Franchise mode. No big changes this year except now your able to scout rookies and get comments on them. You can play the standard 30 years although I cannot imagine somebody playing any game that long. All the usual features are there salary cap, trade deadline, no Randy Moss for Joe Nobody trades, all standard fare but serviceable. In the end even if there were other football games on the PC this year (which there aren't) Madden would make a great purchase. Lets hope they can put Madden 101 and Madden Cards back in this year with a patch or at least next year. Overall I give this years game a 9.3/10

System tested on: Amd XP1800+,Geforce 4 ti4400,Soltek 75-DRV5, 256megs of PC2700

Pros:

Great Gameplay
Top-Notch Graphics
Great Control w/controller

Cons:

High System Requirements
Jumpy Frame rate
Commentary still needs work

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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