The MADDEN series is easily the reigning king of the football world. Sure, it has had its challenges over the past few years by Sega Sports' NFL 2K series. But as a whole, Madden still has a devoted fan base, and until last season, dominated every system other than the Dreamcast.
So now we have the latest installment, and for the first time, MADDEN is online. In addition to that, this version of MADDEN has enough features to make you wonder where to start. The sheer size-factor of the game is overwhelming.
Getting off to the start, gamers are presented with an incredible menu system. It's very cool, very sleek, and has a selection of great (and in some cases, unreleased) music. Bon Jovi even put a brand new track on the game, so his fans will find that to be an added plus. The different songs at the beginning gives the game an edgier feel that perhaps could have been said to be lacking in the previous games. It also has a new visual shine.
For the most part, the typical MADDEN gameplay remains intact. It's all very finely tuned, and gamers won't really find anything to complain about. At the same time, there haven't been many innovations to the game. The one exception to is the fact that the speed seems to have been turned up slightly in response to the Sega's games. A very nice change. It's still simply the same title you've played before, with some added bonuses, of course.
MADDEN is feature deep. With one of the deepest franchise modes encompassing 30 seasons, you could be playing this game well beyond the release of MADDEN 2004. Other features include the typical play editor, coaching modes, and practice. My personal favorite, though, is the situation mode. You get tossed into a certain situation (goal line stand, miracle comeback etc.) and you have to win the game or accomplish some task. It's awesome and a lot of fun, plus you are rewarded with extras when you beat the situations.
There is an online component. As of press time, I have yet to get a chance to play the game online. However, I have played the game online at Sony press events and it ran very smoothly (with the exception of the Sony guy accidentally pulling the power once). It doesn't have the features that GAMEDAY does, but on the other hand, MADDEN is by far a better title.
Graphically MADDEN is very good, especially in the stadium and field models. The stadiums look good, and the field looks fantastic. The player animations and models are also very high quality, and show off what the PlayStation 2 is capable of.
The sound has improved greatly due to the addition of Monday Night Football announcer Al Michaels. He teams up with Madden, and while I do like Madden's stuff, having Michaels is a major plus. Otherwise, the other sound effects and things remain typical. I also really loved the music in the menus, and I'm looking forward to seeing hit singles implemented in future EA titles.Overall, fans of the MADDEN franchise will eat up this newest addition to the series. Fans of the 2K games should at least try it out.