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Madden NFL 2002

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Games
Developer: EA Sports
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:

Once again the Madden NFL franchise has released a product with stunning visuals both on and off the field. Players look and perform better than ever with detailed faces and outstanding animation. On the sidelines, you'll now notice computerized versions of your favorite coaches. The stadiums themselves help give that welcome-to-the-gridiron atmosphere. True-to-life lighting effects top off the eye candy.

Once again, sportscasters John Madden and Pat Summerall hit the sidelines. And, once again, some of you may decide to turn them off because of the same old dry choppiness in their voices, while others will enjoy the many lines of commentary available. On the field, you'll be put in your place with hard hitting tackles and other sound fx that come alive in Dolby Digital sound.


Gameplay:

Not a lot has changed in Madden NFL 2002 since last year's version in terms of gameplay. The most notable is that the pace of the game almost seems a bit slower. I say almost because the game still has a fairly fast pace to it. But this slightly slower action is actually a welcome slowdown, as it allows for a better gaming experience. Other than that, the game offers the same great features of previous incarnations. Game modes include Play Now (with Quick Game, Two Minute Drill, and Training Modes), Exhibition, Season, Franchise, Tournament, Custom League, Practice, and Situation Modes.

You probably noticed the words 'Custom' and 'League' together. That's right. Now you have the option of creating your own person football leagues, creating custom teams, and setting up all new rivalries. Here you'll be able to add up to 16 teams and play either Round Robin or Double Round Robin style. Configure the number of playoff teams, and finish up with a Fantasy Draft (or not). Madden 2002 also adds a Create-A-Player and Create-A-Team feature that's sure to be a winner. And anyone that has followed football this year will realize how valuable the Create-A-Coach option is. If your favorite team is now minus your not-so-favorite coach, just exercise your right to bring in a new one with your user profile.

Also included is the new expansion team, the Houston Texans. What this means is that you can play as or against them in the Expansion Draft. You can also use your Create-A-Team as the Expansion Team if you choose to. Another new feature in Madden NFL 2002 isn't all that new, but has some new options. Now you can earn Madden Cards by training, as well as playing normal games. This is a nice bit of incentive to actually practice before you play.

Everything about Madden 2002 is extremely well developed, with the exception of one problem. The computer's defensive AI (artificial intelligence) can sometimes be really, really poor at tackling. For those who figure it out, you can easily run back and forth with the ball (like in the old days of Madden football games), and the computer-controlled defenders will over pursue, allowing you to blow by them. Luckily, you can up the difficulty settings to help balance this out.


Difficulty:

Balancing the computer's dumb defense to even the score can be done by changing the difficulties settings. The side effect of this is that the computer's offense then gets an extra boost. In short, don't cheat and the difficulty is perfect. There are four settings, making the game playable for anyone. In addition, you can play in Easy Mode, which simplifies some of the controlling schemes in Madden NFL 2002.

Game Mechanics:

Madden 2002 uses the controller's functions very well. This Xbox version basically uses the same setup as the PlayStation versions that you have grown to love. The only problem is that it may take you a while to get used to using the White and Black buttons as the 4th and 5th receivers, instead of the customary shoulder buttons of the PS controller.

My absolute favorite basic feature is the no-brainer of loading user profiles and custom settings. Finally, EA Sports has implemented an auto-load of this data when the game boots up, instead of making you do it manually. Thank you. Another great feature is that the Create-A-Player has got easy to navigate menus, but also includes much more detail than in previous versions of the game. Madden NFL 2002 is an outstanding game and again proves why the franchise is the top in the business.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Microsoft Xbox NBA Live 2003 Microsoft Xbox Max Payne

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated