Madden NFL 2004

August 14, 2003

Madden Football is one of the most anxiously awaited games every
year. Gamers everywhere spend hours drooling over the display boxes
in their local video game stores for weeks on end prior to Madden’s
release. Sadly enough the Madden series has been on a slow and steady
decline over the past few seasons. Madden 2002 was hardly any improvement
over 2001, and 2003 was extremely disappointing. The hype surround
Madden 2004 has been huge however, and the fact that it’s following
so closely behind the shot heard round the video game world from
NCAA Football 2004 have this reviewer’s video game sense tingling.

New This Year

This year’s edition of Madden boasts, among other things, the new
“Playmaker” offense and defense. To be honest, the Playmaker
controls only complicate things. I have a hard enough time trying
to find a hole in the defense, let alone guide my blocker to pick
up a defender. Good idea, bad implementation.

One of the best features of Madden has always been the “Franchise
Mode.” In addition to the “Franchise Mode,” this
year has a new “Owner Mode.” The “Owner Mode”
gives you the ability to set ticket prices, set concession prices,
spend money on advertising, build or renovate stadiums, among many
other options. I found this mode to be too in depth. I like running
a franchise, but I have trouble caring about how much big foam fingers
cost at my stadium.

The best thing that EA added this year was the tackling animations.
Defenders will lunge to shove ball carriers out of bounds, drag
a runner down from behind, and even gang up to bring down a running
back. In addition to the new defensive animations the new running
animations are extremely smooth. Stiff arms actually look like stiff
arms and your back will even fight to get extra yardage after a
collision with a defender.

Like a Snail

The most noticeable difference I found this year was that the game
absolutely crawled. It’s an agonizing task just trying to play a
game from start to finish. Your offense crawls to the line, your
defense crawls into their formation and then you have to make two
or three adjustments on every play.

Madden and Michaels only magnify how boring playing the actual
game is. Their commentary is slow and dead; it drowns out the crowd,
which sounds like they couldn’t care at all about what’s happening
in the game. Amazingly enough the home crowds cheers for the visiting
team when they score. Sitting and watching paint dry is about as
exciting as playing a game of Madden 2004.

Running Into A Wall

There are two things I have found extremely difficult in Madden
thus far. One is running the ball. Gaining a hundred yards with
your running back seems like an impossible quest, gaining twenty

yards seems like a more realistic goal. You should be proud of yourself
if your back manages to average two yards a carry for the season.

The second thing that I am incapable of doing is defending against
the pass. The worst pass offense in the league can throw it downfield
all over my secondary. Fortunately I can do the same thing to the
computer’s defense. Basically what you end up with is a final score
of sixty something to fifty something with each team running about
400 plus passing yards. It’s a bit ridiculous.

Another Year, Another Disappointment

I couldn’t be more pissed off that I shelled out fifty of my hard
earned dollars for this piece of crap. It’s not that Madden is a
bad game; it’s just that I am sick of playing the same damn game
every year. It’s almost coming to the point where EA needs to do
the same thing with Madden that they did with the Triple Play series,
scrap it and start over. The worst part is I know their not, and
I know that next year I’m going to forget how much I hated 2004
and get all pumped up about 2005 and be disappointed all over again.
In a perfect world I’d like EA to refund the money I spent on this
game, and refund the gas money it’s going to take me to drive my
ass over to EB Games and trade it in for something that I will actually
enjoy. Do yourself a favor and keep Madden 2003 if you have it,
don’t waste your money.