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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Tiburon

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

August 12, 2003

 

 

- Play Maker
- Great graphics
- In-depth Owner Mode
- Customizable Soundtrack
- Much better AI

 

 

- John Madden's commentary
- Reason for Michael Vicks injury

 

 

Review: Madden 2003 (Xbox)

Review: NCAA Football 2004 (Gamecube)

Review: NFL Fever 2003 (Xbox)

 

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Madden 2004

Score: 9.2 / 10

 

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The gridiron is again flooded with numerous football games. Again, the same duo of EA Sports and Sega control the high ground; while lower doen you’ll find the struggle of rookie titles trying to earn themselves recognition. Recently we’ve the seen the rise and fall of the Madden saga. For more then 10 years we’ve seen Madden hit the shelves, always earning the most profit. To many gamers surprise, after the release of Madden 2001, little addition has been made to the following titles, merely updating the graphics and rosters are the only additions. With Sega hot on their trail of being the best football game, EA Sports felt how close they were, and decided it was time to unleash something much, much, bigger. After playing the game for quite some time, I can strongly say that this is the one title to buy come this football season.

Madden is known for its in-depth and precise presentation of realistic football. Year after year, Madden delivers the best graphics, and the best gameplay. Though, with the franchises success, depth off the field was missing quite a bit. Sure, you can

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play through a season and make trades; but shouldn’t there be something else? This year, Madden faced the problem, and ultimately made the most in-depth football game ever created.

The new Owner Mode, which is simply a Franchise mode on steroids, adds more depth then one could ever asked for. Inside owner mode, every aspect of your team can be modified. From cup

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holders to jerseys, all can be modified. Want to relocate? No problem, pick a city, and move. Not enough people in the stadium? Give them something to cheer about by investing in television ads. If that doesn’t work, you can always give them team bandanas, and other concessions to increase revenue. For the first time, a player can actually immerse themselves in the role of being an owner, and feel its wide range of power. If you think the team spent all of their time creating a plethora of just off field options, then you’ve obviously never heard the term “play maker”.

“Play maker” is every players dream in one movement. A simple stroke up or down can change your fate in a blink of an eye. For example, if you back up to pass, but find your receiver standing there covered by three defensive backs, which used to happen a lot in previous Madden games, you can order him to move in any direction you choose. For the first time ever, the player will actually move to the place you command, after the play is in progress. As well as quarterbacks, running backs also have the ability to utilize play maker. During a run, using the same right analog control, you can select to have a blocker in front of you change accordingly to your run, allowing you to break free through a tight gap. Play maker is mostly used for the offense, but the defense also has the ability to use play maker.

 

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Before the snap, the offense might call an audible, reading your blitz approach. Now lets say you still want to blitz your linebackers for pressure, though still want your cornerbacks to play off a bit and stay alert for the pass. Well, all of this can be done in only two strokes of playmaker. The ability to shape shift your defensive is incredible, and never before seen in any other football game. This option is seamlessly integrated within the gameplay, and without it, the Madden series could’ve been beaten by Sega.

As stated earlier, the Madden series relies on its graphics and flowing gameplay effects to hold together all differing aspects. And in Madden style, the game excels once again. The player faces and bodies are very well done, allowing you to recognize players before there name even pops up, or by their number. In previous Madden games, the faces were barely distinguishable with their real life counterpart. The bodies of players are also realistic and like their real life counterpart, though I have a small complaint. There is only one player that might look slightly out of sync with other player sizes, and that is Warren Sapp. Yes, we all know of his great size and power, but within the game, you looks more like a lumbering beast then a football lineman. His size is immediately noticeable, and after a few laughs, you can return to your football seriousness. It doesn’t degrade the game in any way, but is laughably in proportion to the real Sapp.

Tackles and player movement is also greatly improved, creating flowing sequences. Tackles and dives are also toned down from the previous years, bringing gravity into play. If you’ve forgotten, the previous Madden games would allow you to leap over great distances to make a tackle. Fortunately, that problem has been fixed; making tackles more up close and personal.

The sound is another aspect of Madden that keeps getting better and better. While diving through the menus, in MTV style, music is played from some recognizable artists such as: Joe Budden, Blink-182, Adema, AFI, Nappy Roots, Thrice, and countless others. And if you’re not a big fan of any of these artists, the option of turning off tracks is accessible. The Xbox version also includes the ability to add your own tracks to the game, which is a poor consolation to the lack of online play for the Xbox, and doesn’t even compare to the ability of playing online.

In terms of announcers, there is only one problem: John Madden himself. I think many people find his “insightful” inquiries just a tad bit…frustrating! His most hated lines are included within the game, and his “timely” and “accurate” color commentary creates “great” “sound”. Sorry for bashing the great leader so much, but it’s the truth. People are getting tired of his commentary, and a replacement is needed. We’ve heard “BOOM”, and his undesirable chuckle many times, and if it wasn’t for Al Michaels, I’d turn off the announcer’s altogether. This is strongly noticed during some quiet moments, such as challenges. For example, if you challenge a call that you know and the replay shows is incorrect, you’ll hear Madden in the back. If in the replay it shows a player being pushed out of bounds, Madden will be rambling on about something that has nothing to do with the play at hand. He might be angrily talking about his knee touching the ground, or some other irrelevant event. The worst part is to have the referee decide to let the play stand, even though any real life ref would reverse the play in a heart beat. As much as it is frustrating, the lack of Maddens voice and arbitrary referee calls wouldn’t be the same.

Madden 2004 is one of the most in-depth and enjoyable football titles to have ever hit the market, with the exception to Joe Montana 94. Sorry, but that’s the greatest game of all time. If you’re a huge football fan such as myself, or even casual sports gamer, this is the one title to buy by years end. The amount of replay is simply amazing and never before seen in previous football titles. Madden 2004 is a strong statement by the EA Sports team that they aren’t merely sellouts, and still have what it takes to create a great game.

- Eric Lahiji

(August 28, 2003)

 

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