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Madden NFL 2002

Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Games
Media: Cart/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:

It makes it hard to go back and play Nintendo's soon-to-be-last-generation system and judge the graphics. However, player textures and stadium structures look very nice. There is a bit of clipping (graphical, not football) in Madden NFL 2002, but it doesn't deter from the intense football action that lies within.

Unfortunately, because of the limitation of the big N's cartridge format, Madden is very limited in sound. It's very hard to believe, but I miss the commentary! Yep, that's right. Normally it gets shut off or completely ignored, but when it's not there, the game seems a little more boring. Weird how that works, ain't it? In-game sound effects and the small snippets of commentary that are present remind me a lot of the 16-bit generation of games. Maybe I should turn it off.


Gameplay:

Over the years, the Madden franchise has developed into the #1 football game on any system, and there is good reason why. Not only is the gameplay itself top-notch as always, but there are so many options and tweaks that I couldn't possibly list them all. To start, you can now take the field as the newest inclusion to the NFL, the Houston Texans. Take on the computer or a friend or three in Exhibition, Season, or Franchise. Or maybe you would rather set up your own Custom League for 4-8 players. How about a single- or double-elimination Tournament? And when you start to struggle with your favorite team, whip 'em into shape with the Team Practice, Situation, or 2-Minute Drill Modes.

The inception of Madden Cards has improved replayability greatly, and they are again included in Madden 2002. This time, they also include cheerleaders! Madden's simple, yet effective play-calling scheme is once again back too. Another new addition, however, is that the kicking meter got revamped, and it makes kicking all that more difficult. First you choose your direction by pressing the button on a moving target, then pressing again determines your power... and it moves fast! Timing is key.

Did I mention that newly included in Madden NFL 2002 is Madden Classic? If you're like me and remember the good old days of 16-bit football, you'll get a huge blast from the past when you maneuver your players sluggishly around the field in an effort to kick your buddy's butt. The best part is that this new mode features all of the current rosters, while the skin is still the same old John Madden Football we grew up with. Okay, after playing Madden Classic, I can see how Madden NFL 2002's sounds are a bit more improved... but still pretty lame.

Madden NFL 2002 continues to deliver the best gameplay available in a football game today. There is a good balance of running vs. passing, and gameplay is kept fast and furious. Every play matters. Playing Madden on the N64 feels a bit weird to me with the controller setup, but when you step back and look at it, the controller functions are in the best places they can be. With a little practice and perseverance, it's easy to overcome and you'll be marching down the gridiron carrying your opponent on your back.


Difficulty:

Madden NFL 2002 has a perfect balance of difficulty. The computer's AI (artificial intelligence) is outstanding and you will have a great feeling of reality when you take the field. One of the hardest thing to get used to (at least for PlayStation fans) is that there are only two shoulder buttons, so it is a bit more difficult to perform some functions. Yet another feature new to the Madden franchise is the Mulligan. Basically, as you would in golf, when you make a bad play you can use a mulligan to replay the down. While I'm sure some will love this feature, those who won't can turn it off. You can choose anywhere from 0-3 mulligans.

Game Mechanics:

Game menus and mechanics are fairly well done, so you should be able to navigate fairly easily. The only bad thing is that in order to save Madden NFL 2002 games, be prepared to set aside two memory cards. Franchise Mode will use an entire card, and saving user settings and profiles (like Madden Cards) will require additional space on another card. It's too bad that EA Sports didn't either lower these requirements or save some of the information directly to the game cartridge. The upside to this is that you will have tons and tons of stats to track if you want to.

If you're like me, you will boycott the use of mulligans while playing (although having one per game against a friend would offer another level of excitement). But, on the other hand, if you happen to press a wrong button on the crowded N64 controller, you may need to use one. There is one horrible feature on the controller scheme, however, and that is that you can call quick timeouts by pressing the R and L/Z buttons simultaneously. On paper this seems great, but when you burn one by accident while trying to shift your defense in the first quarter, it is quite annoying!

Madden has fast gameplay, tough opponents, excellent AI, and a host full of other great features. I have very few discrepancies, and if you can overlook the poor sound quality and cramped controller of the N64, then pick this one up today. Whether you are a fan of the series or just plain like football, Madden NFL 2002 will deliver the game-winning touchdown that you've been waiting for.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

Windows Jekyll & Hyde Windows Planet of the Apes

 
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