Review by rufus

Reviewed: 09/01/00 | Updated: 09/01/00

Best Madden yet...well yes with a little no.

The Madden series has always been the best game to buy when you are looking for some football to play in your living room. It has always been the closest to the real deal. If you want arcade an arcade feel to the game then go play Game Day. The differences between this years addition to the series over last years are subtle, but they are there and they definitely make it worth getting.

EA hasn’t made any great leaps or bounds in the graphics area. That’s not a bad thing though since the graphics were already good. One thing that does stand out more is the player’s different sizes. A defensive lineman looks like a big giant compared to some of the little backs of the game. There have been some more player animations added to the game as well. More tackles, touchdown celebrations, celebrations after a sack, but the most noticeable and most appreciated animation is that the receivers actually put their hands out/stretch to catch the ball. You don’t just throw the ball and it just magically sticks to the receiver like in most football games. This just helps to make the game more life like.

The sounds for the game are like the graphics, more of the same and nothing ground breaking here either. The crowd noise is good. It’s loud when the other team has the ball, but quiets down when you have the ball, especially on a third and long situation, but then roars if you manage to get the first down. Pat Summeral is back to do the play by play and for the most part does a good job. Of course the great John Madden lends his knowledge and wisdom to the game as well. A new addition is the coaches. If your team isn’t pulling their weight or just likes to screw up a lot they’ll let you know about it. This isn’t really necessary for game play, but it is a nice little addition to make the game more fun. Tackles sound more real this year. If you lay a bone jarring hit on your opponent you will be awarded with a cry of pain from him as he goes down.

But what makes this game shine is it’s game play. You can really see a difference in the play book between teams. They actually do compare to the real team's style. On offense you can now call a hot route for a receiver. The defense is playing a short zone, well then pick your fastest receiver and tell him to go long for that 54 yard TD. Have a blitz coming your way, well then tell him to cut across the open middle for a quick pass. The same thing goes for the defense. You figured your opponent was going to run the ball, but crap he’s going to pass it, not a problem; just tell you defense to go into a bump and run and have that pass covered. These new additions totally add to the experience and give the player a lot more control over what’s happening. The defensive line can now also perform a spin move along with the returning swim move to get the quarterback. Players can also perform the ‘swat the ball’ technique to stop that pass. Want to try cause a fumble, fine, try stripping the ball instead of tackling. All of these little things go a long way in making this a fantastic football experience.

And there are plenty of modes to play: Exhibition, Season, Franchise, Tournament, Situation, Practice, and the great Two Minute Drill. The Two Minute Drill is a just another gem added to the game. Decide on how many players are going to play, each pick your own team, and then pick the defense you are going to play against. Then you each get a chance to see how many points you can rack up in two minutes. You get points for each first down you get, completing passes, running the ball, getting out of bounds, etc. Different plays are worth different points. If you score then you can start all over again with whatever time is left to try and do it again. If you don’t get the first down or turn over the ball then you are done and the next player gets to strut his stuff. Whoever has the most points and the end of the round is the winner. It’s great to play with a bunch of friends, or by yourself and see how high of score you can get. The situation mode has changes a little too. An added feature here is that you are place in the shoes of one of the great game of the past and have to accomplish the goal set before you. If you do you unlock another game, and so on. All the other modes are perty much the same thing. Franchise has added preseason games in which you select four teams to play and then let you rookies get some experience. Their ratings will increase/decrease depending on their play and then you can make your decision to keep them or cut em loose. Another great idea is Madden Cards. After you create a User Profile and start playing games you earn tokens for completing certain tasks. Once you get 40 tokens you can ‘buy’ a pack of Madden cards. They basically are like football trading cards. You can then use them to unlock teams and cheat codes. Or you can use that player’s card to boost their stats during the next game that you play. You can even trade or play for cards with a friend. This does nothing but greatly increase the replay value of the game.

So far nothing bad has been said about the game, so what is keeping it from getting the perfect 10? Well the answer is simple. When playing against the computer get ready to play against the pass a lot. I mean a lot. EA slipped up. An example is playing against the Bucs. This team is known for using it’s running game to wear out the other team. By the end of the game the computer had only run 5 times. It’s 3rd and 2 and instead of running with Alstott, it tries a pass. Highly unlikely. I have tried to change the settings to force the computer to run more, but I haven’t seen a big difference. I have noticed though that if you stop the pass enough, it will start to run the ball some more. It still is fun to play and I think it’s the best football game out there, but it’s a detail that got overlooked when it should have been fixed.

Other than that one complaint the game is perfect. If you are looking for the real deal and the best football simulation game then go out and get Madden 2000. Under the hood there are tons of new options that make this game worthy of the Lambardi Trophy.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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