Six months prior to last October's launch of Sony's next-generation gaming console, I patiently waited in line (along with thousands of others) at my favorite video game store and plucked down the mandatory 100 smackers to reserve my very own PS2. As I perused the shelves for titles 'coming soon,'? my immediate impressions left me somewhat despondent. Yes, in terms of quantity and content, the launch titles were mediocre at best. But to this day, I can still remember the ear-to-ear smile I had on my face as I walked out of the store. The reason for that smile was quite simple (and if you're a sports game enthusiast like me, you know where I'm going with this). You see, to say that I'm a football video game fanatic would be putting it mildly -- and as far as I was concerned, there was only one launch title that carried any significance. The other games were irrelevant. Of course, that title was none other than EA Sports' Madden 2001 -- a game that not only lived up to my expectations, but in many ways exceeded them.
Eleven months have passed since Sony's fledgling console stormed the video game market and EA Sports finds itself with the daunting task of improving upon an already great game. But let's face it, folks -- while Madden 2001 might have been great, it wasn't perfect. Sporting a number of graphical and gameplay issues in need of some serious refinement, Madden 2001 had many gamers looking to the future. Well, the future has finally arrived and the PS2 Madden franchise is ready to take to the gridiron once more in the form of Madden 2002. But is it a major improvement or just a minor upgrade? Listen for the call, cause we're comin' outa the huddle; ready... break!
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Whether you're a fan of the Madden formula of gameplay or you prefer the more arcade-like gaming experience found in the Gameday franchise, there is simply no denying that when it comes to options and features, it's no contest -- EA Sports is king. Madden 2002 continues that great tradition in a big way. Yes, my friends, the stadium is packed and it's standing room only as this year's game includes all the standard features and modes of play that we've come to know and love -- and throws in some new ones for good measure. Aside from the standard modes of Exhibition, Practice, Season, Tournament, and Franchise, EA Sports has included three brand new modes of play: Two-Minute Drill, Training and Situation. The Two-Minute Drill is a fast-paced game within a game, where you earn points based on your accomplishments such as gaining a first down on offense or making a sack on defense. During the Training Mode, with help from John Madden himself, you'll learn about the X's and O's of football while perfecting your in-game skills. In Situation Mode, create your very own gameplay scenarios and challenge your playmaking skills to your heart's content. Create a scenario based on classic games from the past or make up some new ones of your own. This mode is a blast to play, and it ups the replay factor tenfold.
Similar to last year's Dynasty mode, you'll be able to choose one or more teams (31 to be exact, including the newest NFL franchise, the Houston Texans) to play in multiple seasons for up to 30 years. If you own NCAA Football 2002, after your first year of play you'll be able to import a draft class from that game and pick from those players for your own team. The game also features an excellent create-a-team option which allows you to customize, among other things, your team's name, uniform, team logo and stadium. You'll also find a first-rate create-a-player option, a full-bodied fantasy draft mode, and a brand-new assortment of reward-based Madden cards for players and even cheerleaders (can't get enough of those Raiderettes!). Of course when it comes to record keeping, the number of stats included in the game is downright staggering. Just about every possible stat is recorded and available for your viewing pleasure. Furthermore, career stats for every player are carried over into subsequent years of franchise play, so you'll be able to check on your favorite players to see how they're progressing.
As in previous versions of Madden Football, Madden 2002 provides you with the ability to customize gameplay in several areas. Everything from quarter length to frequency of penalty calls can be adjusted to your liking. While several camera views are at your immediate disposal, the developers have also included an option to customize separate camera views for the snap of the ball, as well as for run plays and pass plays. Although the average gamer will most likely find the default camera to be the best for playing, it was kinda fun to play around with the camera... at least for a while.
As we all know, it's not the options and features in a football game that bring us back year after year. What matters most is the action on the field. Along with everyone else, my hope was that the developers would address some of the key areas that kept last year's game from achieving Hall of Fame status. Well, the developers have done just that. The kicking game has received a complete overhaul, replacing the left-right, up-down meters with a circular arc, similar to the kind used for most golf games. I'm not quite sure if most gamers will prefer this to the traditional interface. What I do know, however, is that with a little practice, all gamers will eventually feel right at home with the new mechanics. I personally think it represents a huge improvement, as it now requires more skill to put the ball between the uprights.
There are no significant changes in player control -- if you've played previous versions of the game, you'll feel right at home. There has been some concern in the past about player movement being too 'floaty.'? Once again, it's a matter of preference; it's never been an issue for me. You will, however, find significant changes in the overall speed of the game, the running game, the passing game and the defensive AI.
The overall speed of the game has increased to a point where player movements are nowhere near as sluggish as in last year's version. This has made a direct impact on the running game. Whether you're running up the middle or going outside, your back will get there much quicker, resulting in more chances for positive yardage. The line blocking has also improved, especially on traps and dives up the middle. You'll need to find the openings quickly, however, because like real football the holes close as fast as they open. I have a minor complaint about the line blocking, the same one I've had for years. In the real game of football, offensive linemen do not run-block standing straight up as is portrayed here. During and after run plays, linemen usually end up on the turf, buried somewhere in the middle of a massive pileup. Likewise on defense, while there are new wrap-tackle animations, there should be more gang tackling with three or four players hitting the ball carrier at once. The absence of these animations doesn't hurt the game in any way; however, they would make the game much more realistic.
Perhaps the biggest improvement in the game is in defensive pass coverage. The developers have made strides in this area. During nickel and dime packages, your cornerbacks and safeties will cover the receivers with a new sense of smarts. On the whole, this will enable you to play a better level of defense with those bogus sixty to eighty-yard touchdown passes occurring much less frequently. On the offensive side of the ball, this makes finding the open man more challenging than ever before. However, I have noticed that at least your receivers don't seem to drop the ball as often as in the past (doh!). All of this makes the passing game more of an exercise in skill and less of an exercise in frustration.
In terms of gameplay AI, the Madden series has always been the best, and this year's game is positioned to keep that streak going. For those of us who play solo, the CPU consistently plays with a level of intelligence that is, to date, unmatched by any other game. The computer opponent will call plays and use time-outs in an appropriate manner. If the CPU has no more time-outs, it will use the sidelines to stop the clock. The more you play the game and the more different game situations you find yourself in, the more you begin to appreciate this level of AI. Heck, I even had one situation when right at the end of the third quarter with the wind going against me, I purposely called a running play so that the clock would keep moving. It was fourth down and my plan was to run out the clock so that I could punt the ball with the wind at my back. Well, it seems the CPU had ideas of its own. It proceeded to call a time-out, forcing me to punt against the wind (outfoxed by a computer chip... I love it!). Needless to say, I was both shocked and pleased at the same time.
Unfortunately, the dreaded money plays are back again. To be honest, by virtue of my own experiences I haven't been able to determine to what extent. But I have noticed daily updated money plays that are provided by competing websites for each and every NFL team.
That should give you a hint as to their prevalence.
If you don't already own a multitap, this game gives you reason enough to go out and buy one. Madden 2002 supports up to eight players simultaneously -- so gather your friends and get ready for some serious trash talking. Even if you can't spring for the multitap, as mentioned earlier, the Franchise mode enables human ownership for each of the 31 NFL teams.
If you own a PS2 and love football video games as much as I do, I need not go on and on about the graphical splendor that EA Sports bestowed upon us in the form last year's Madden game. Sure, there were areas that needed some work (do I hear 'bug eyes,' anyone?), but for the most part they were pretty jaw-dropping. So in regard to this year's game, the obvious question becomes how much (if any) have they improved? At first glance, the answer might be, well, not much -- but upon closer inspection (and additional hours of gameplay) I think you'll find this year's version offers a substantial visual upgrade.
The first thing you'll notice is the improvement in the facial features of our gridiron combatants. Yup, the infamous 'bug eyes'? are gone. Don't get me wrong, the player's faces are still not the real deal by any stretch -- you won't recognize your favorite quarterback anytime soon -- but at least they do look more human. The facial features of the sideline coaches, however, are modeled quite nicely. Chances are you just might recognize your favorite head coach (isn't that nice?). As a matter of fact, the player models themselves have been upgraded with an apparent increase in polygons, cleaner and more detailed textures and thankfully, fewer 'jaggies.'? Overall, the players look less chunky and more like real football players. In direct comparison to last year's game, you'll also find a more convincing variety of player sizes. Running backs look more like running backs and linemen look more like linemen. Additionally, the various team uniforms are conveyed with a never-before-seen level of detail -- a close-up view of the players reveals more realistic helmet logos, jersey mesh and an assortment of other player accoutrements, such as elbow pads and finger tape.
The various stadiums are once again modeled to near perfection, displaying an impressive likeness to their real-life counterparts. Sidelines are populated with fully animated and interactive 3D players, referees, coaches, cheerleaders and cameramen. Trust me, I've knocked over a member of the chain gang more than once (oops!). The sidelines are not nearly as populated as in a real-life game, but they offer a nice touch nonetheless.
For the most part, player animations are smoother and more realistic than ever. During gameplay, the frame rate is rock solid, with minor slowdown only during extreme close-ups. Thankfully, EA Sports has finally addressed one of my complaints from last year's version -- a somewhat sluggish and unresponsive running game. This year, halfbacks and fullbacks will hit the hole with a new sense of speed, power and purpose. The game also features an improved physics model and enhanced collision detection, which in the end translates to more realistic action on the field. In fact, the developers have added several new player movements including brand new line blocking and wrap tackling animations that further immerse you in the on-field action. You'll even notice during pass plays that the ball does not always come off as a perfect spiral. Yes, even wobbly passes are 'in the game.'? Furthermore, if you level the ball carrier with just the right amount of pop, his helmet will fly off (sorry, did I do that?). Of course, there's a multitude of between-play animations, such as players stretching, swaying in the huddle and adjusting their facemasks -- good stuff. Like a real televised broadcast, automatic replays zoom in on the action, providing you with a close-up view of that last touchdown or big hit. And like the graphics during gameplay, the replays are looking better than ever.
In the audio department you'll find that not much has changed. That's not to say that the sound effects are bad; it's just that I don't see much of an improvement. The grunts and groans of the players and the various crowd noises are pretty much on par with last year's game.
On the other hand, the commentary is a huge disappointment. This is one area where last year's game might actually have an edge. Madden and Summerall are back in the booth, but this time I can sum up their efforts in one word -- dreadful! Commentary is dull, repetitive and oftentimes downright useless. Let me give you an example: It's the beginning of the game and I return the opening kickoff to midfield. It's first and ten, and I hand the ball off to my halfback who runs off-tackle for four yards. At this point, Madden comments, 'He better start mixing up his plays, Pat, or else he's gonna find it tough to get positive yardage.'? Well, with comments like that, John, I'm gonna find it impossible not to turn you off! Needless to say, this happens throughout most of the game -- boring, repetitive and worthless c
Download Madden 2002
All hail the king! Look out, football fans; your favorite football game is back and looking better than ever. Every year around this time we football fans can look forward to a new release of Madden Football, and with this year's 2002 version EA Sports has set itself apart from the rest of the crowd. For any rookies out there, let me give you a quick rundown. Madden 2002 is an in-your-face, 3D explosion of football goodness that lets you coach or play as your favorite NFL team. You pick the plays, execute and score until you have the opposing team begging for mercy.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Playing Madden 2002 is like welcoming back an old friend. I've been playing the Madden series of football as far back as the 16-bit Sega machines, which gives you an idea of how strong a product EA Sports puts out year after year. Madden 2002 has tons of play modes available to you. You can set up a friendly exhibition game against the computer or go head to head with a friend. There is a practice mode that allows you to work on different plays for either offense or defense. I really enjoyed the practice part of the game because it let you work on playing the game without the game situation pressure. Those of you who want the whole football experience can load up a franchise or season and try to take your team all the way to the Super Bowl. The history buffs can set up games that let them control the great teams of the past. If that isn't enough, you can play online with people from the Internet. Madden 2002 is one game that will have you coming back for more. The graphics are so wonderfully done and the gameplay so immersive that I found myself playing for hours and hours. You'll need all that time because the computer can be quite the nasty opponent, especially if you turn the difficulty all the way up. You'll find yourself clawing for 1 or 2 yards while trying to run up the middle, or seeing your receivers getting pummeled by the defensive backs.
I can only think of one game I enjoy playing online more than Madden 2002 and that is a first-person shooter. Madden 2002 is a total blast to play online. I love the fact that you're locked into battle with someone for an entire game, each trying to outwit the other. The one down side to playing online has to be your connection speed. I had DSL last year when playing Madden 2001 and encountered no real problems playing. The game ran smoothly and I was never bumped offline. This year I'm on a 56k modem and I've noticed some heavy drag at times. I've also been bumped offline a few times. Another thing you'll notice is that people have a tendency to quit right in the middle of a game if they are being beaten, which annoys me to no end. Other than that, Madden 2002 is great fun to play online, whether with a friend or someone you've just met in the game room.
I thought the graphics were beautiful in the 2001 version of Madden Football, but the 2002 version runs circles around the other version. Player models are absolutely stunning. All of the offensive and defensive linemen are huge hulking behemoths; some have big bellies and some don't. The kickers look like you could break them in half because they are so thin and small. All in all I would have to say these are the best player models I've ever seen for a football game. Another thing that sticks out is the attention to detail regarding the stadiums because each one looks just like its real-life counterpart. You'll also notice how full the sidelines are with players and coaches and line judges. When it came to the actual game itself I was blown away. All movements by the players are very fluid; gone are the days of jerky motions and running around in circles. Another thing that had me slobbering like a linebacker was watching the receiver's pull of amazing one-handed catches. I'm not going to tease you any more; just trust me when I tell you that these are the best football graphics I've ever seen.
I found the music to be horrible in Madden 2002. I'm not into hip-hop very much so the music got on my nerves really quickly. The fine people at EA Sports have solved that problem for me because Madden 2002 lets you put your own music files into the game, which I thought was a great feature. The game commentary gets a bit repetitive but you really won't notice that much because of how hard you'll be concentrating to score that next touchdown. The best part of the audio has to be the crowd noises in the game. I would be playing defense and the other team would be about to score on me, when all of a sudden the stadium would erupt with chants of "Defense, defense, defense!" When I heard those chants I would tighten the chin strap on my helmet and get ready to rumble -- definitely a motivation tool. Compared to other football games I've played, the player noises seem a bit quiet unless you really lay the smack down. Then you get the pleasure of hearing a loud scream or yell erupt from the player.
Win 95/98/ME, PII 333 MHz or better, 40 MB hard disk space, 64 MB RAM, 8X CD-ROM drive, 16 MB video card, sound card, 56k modem or better, game pad or keyboard.
Every year that EA Sports releases a new version of Madden Football, I always buy it. And why is that, you ask? Simply put, nobody makes a better football game than EA Sports. I've tried all the fake wannabe football games out there, and not one can even begin to compare to Madden 2002. If you're looking for a football game that will have hours and hours of replay value, then you need not look any further because Madden has got it all for you. On that note I'll give Madden 2002 a score of 96/100. See ya on the gridiron!