October 23, 2001
Madden NFL 2002 - Review
With any new console launch you can be guaranteed of seeing (in America at least) several new NFL games to keep gamers happy. Electronic Arts' John Madden NFL games have been coming out for a decade now and are generally regarded as the best on the market. Indeed, until Gran Turismo 3 came out only a couple of months ago Madden NFL 2001, which was a launch title in America, still held the highest sales in America of all PS2 games. Last years game was a massive leap forward in the series from the PSOne with some stunning visuals that still haven't been challenged on the system. A year later and Electronic Arts have once again outdone themselves by releasing Madden NFL 2002. This game isn't just a quick update with new rosters as EA have gone all out to make this the best NFL game ever, and have significantly surpassed last years effort.
|Yep, this is actually the game.|
As with previous games in the series, Madden NFL 2002 includes standard play modes such as exhibition, playoffs, season and franchise modes (which now lasts for up to 30 game years!). The game has also been expanded with several new modes including the very cool 2 minute drill which is very much like a challenge mode where you must complete a pass for the first down or getting out of bounds to earn points. Also included is a situation mode where you can set up a situation to try and complete. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to re-live some of the classic real-life matches from the past. Finally, the game is rounded out with a training mode where John Madden himself will help you practice the differnet plays and offers tips along the way.
|Sidelines are full of officials.|
So what about the actual gameplay? Well, playing NFL has never been this good, or this much fun. The entire game runs as smoothly and quickly as the real sport, while the number of plays available is very impressive. One major change that you will notice in this game is that the kick-off has been changed to a more golf styled button press (ie press to start, press at the top for power, press at the bottom for accuracy). It works very well and really only gives you one chance to get it right requiring more skills and practice. The development team has also tightened up the defense with the players now more likely to block off passes and now manage to stop the runners without leaving one open as was often the case in past games. The offense, as a result, requires either a lot more running plays, or a lot more skill in passing the ball. If your a passing type player then you'll definintely want to have a look for a strong Quarterback to pass as precisely as possible.
|DON'T LIKE NFL?
If you're not too sure about NFL then you may want to consider that Electronic Arts have just released NHL 2000 and F1 2001 in Australia and will very soon release Cricket 2002 (YAY!), NBA 2002, Tiger Woods USA Tour 2002, Knockout Kings 2002 and FIFA 2002. Expect all these games to be up to EA's typically superb quality.
The developers also seem to have reduced the effectiveness of the sidestepping, spin moves and stiff arms which now result in a lot more fumbles during play. Don't expect to spin your way past three or four defensive players on your way to a touchdown. It just doesn't happen. Well, only on the extremely rare occasion. The actual controls are very responsive with little delay between issuing a command and it happening on screen which is a solid improvement over previous games in the series.
I can't, however, let the game get away without a couple of complaints. The first is that it just seems a bit tough. No, let me re-phrase that. In single player mode this game is bloody tough, even in the easier modes. Fortunately with practice the game levels out a bit but it's a rough ride to begine with, and one which shouldn't happen. The 2-player mode stops this problem and puts everyting back onto a level playing field. The other minor niggle is that the computer AI cheats in the higher difficulty settings. Even if the computer players have lower skill ratings then yours they seem to perform their tasks successfully more often.
|The player texturing has improved.|
Graphically, Madden NFL 2002 is quite an improvement over last years already impressive game. The development team have cleaned up the texturing on the players while the animation has been smoothed out and been given a boost with many more player animations and movements. The game generally runs at a solid 50fps and as usual EA have effectively made the game full screen with only tiny borders at the top and bottom.
Sadly, the sound in Madden 2002 is still the weakest aspect of the game. The sound effects such as the crunches, cheers and audibles are solid enough but the game is let down by some very uninspired commentary. John Madden sounds like he doesn't want to be there, much like the other commentators while it will only take a couple of games, or even plays to hear the same comments over and over. It's too repeatitive, especially given the vast storage capacity offered by the DVD format. Perhaps EA should have a look at the Visual Concepts Sega Sports NFL2K1 (and soon on PS2 NFL2K2) for a little more inspiration, or even EA's own NHL 2002.
Madden NFL 2002 is easily the most impressive NFL based video game ever. It's definitely an improvement in previous games in the Madden series including the previous PS2 stunner. The graphics and animation are crispy clean, so much so that several of my friends thought I was watching a real game until closer inspection, the gameplay is superb and the game just feels right. The most important thing however, is that Madden NFL 2002 is tremendous fun to play and has that "one more go" addiciveness. This is one game that, when you get used to the multitude of options and controls, you will not want to put down. If you already own last year's version you should still consider upgrading to the 2002 game, it's that good. If your undecided as to whether you can cope with playing an NFL game I can only strongly suggest the you rent this game to see how awesome it is, and then go buy it.
|The faces are neat, not stunning.|
Talk about Madden NFL 2002 in this forum topic now.