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Platform

GameCube

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

Tiburon

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q4 2001

 

 

- Very customizable

- Many and varied modes

- Clean graphics

- Slick animation

 

 

- No online play

- Basically a PS2 port

- Large memory card requirements

 

 

Review: Madden NFL 2003 (Gamecube)

Review: Madden NFL 2002 (Playstation 2)

Review: Madden NFL 2002 (XBox)

 

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Madden 2002

Score: 9.1 / 10

American football games have come a long way since they premiered in arcades in 1978. Then, Atari Football had players using a trak ball to move little X’s and O’s around the screen. As technology has advanced, the quality and depth of these football games have advanced with it. All of this progress is gathered together in one place with Madden 2002.

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If I had been asked to keep my review of Madden 2002 for the Nintendo Gamecube to two words (and what a time saving request that would have been), I would have went with “feature rich”. Madden 2002 has every option a football fan could possibly want (with the exception of online play). There are exhibition and season modes, of course. The dynasty mode has also become a standard, and it is present in the form of an amazing thirty-year mode that has more customization options than any other football game on the market. Add to these now standard modes the addictive 2 Minute Offense mode and the infinitely customizable Challenge mode, and we are left with a game that could fill hundreds of hours of a players time without getting repetitive.

Luckily, the gameplay is as solid as the options. Madden 2002 follows in the footsteps of the 2001 version by sticking to a realistic, momentum-based model for on-field players. This means no leaping ten yards to make a tackle as you can in the more arcade-like NFL Fever and NFK2K games. This can momentarily make the game seem a tad less exciting than its brethren, but once the style is adjusted to, the game provides the best simulation of football available. Anything that a player has seen happen in a real football game (right down to coaches challenging the referee’s calls) could possibly happen in a game of Madden 2002, and that may be the highest praise a sports videogame can receive.

 

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Also different for this year’s game is the slight downgrading of the momentum model.  Last year’s battle between Madden and NFL2K was often discussed as the battle between real-life physics and arcade physics (an assessment unfair to NFL2K, by the way).  I haven’t played the new NFL2K, but I can tell you Madden has come toward the middle a bit.  At times last year it could seem like the players were playing in six inches of molasses.  This year, players move a bit more freely.  Momentum is still a factor, and players can’t jump ten yards to make a tackle, but it is certainly more free-moving than last year’s game.

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Though Madden 2002 has all of the official licenses, giving players access to each NFL player, team, and stadium, it also includes create-a-player, create-a-team, create-a-league, and create-a-coach options which together allow a player to create a totally personal game experience. This is easily the most customizable game available in that respect. One drawback here is that Madden 2002 uses an entire memory card 59. Of course, this is more a problem with Nintendo’s decision not to make a larger memory card available at launch than a fault of Madden 2002.

The most important change from last year’s Madden is the inclusion of “sliders” that allow the player to tweak the A.I. of all of the computer-controlled players. This option allows players to set up the game to play in a way that perfectly matches their own play style. Adjusting the sliders affects both the opponent A.I. and the A.I. of computer controlled teammates, so the game remains balanced no matter how much tweaking a player decides to do.

Madden 2002’s graphics are sharp as well. Players are modeled using thousands of polygons and are smoothly animated. Some of those animation routines are simply jaw dropping. My favorite is the sideline catch animation where the receiver just manages to drag the toe of his second foot on the turf before falling out of bounds. There is true excitement to be had watching the players make one-handed catches, leap over fallen defenders, or dive, football first, into the end zone.

Owners of multiple systems may want to know how the Gamecube version compares to the others. Graphically, it is a step above the PS2 as there is less flicker in the background and less aliasing in general. It is missing the graphical improvements given the Xbox version, however, so it sits comfortably between the two versions and is the third best looking football game currently available, behind NFL fever and Madden 2002 for the Xbox.

With Sega holding off the Gamecube version of the NFL2K series until 2K3, Gamecube owners have no real choice when it comes to American football games. Luckily for them, the one they do have is the best of the bunch.

- Tolen Dante

(February 23, 2002)

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