Madden NgFL 2000
EA Sports has used the slogan "If it's in the game, it's in the game" for years now, and they've never come closer to living up to that boast than with Madden NFL 2000. This game has everything but games being delayed because some deranged fan is running around on the field with no clothes on. It contains all the teams in the NFL, as well as several "classic" teams and all their stadiums. It's got the names of nearly all the players, too, although one occasionally runs across "RB #35". It's even got players of different shapes, so the offensive linemen are bigger than the wide receivers. The weather varies from sunny and calm (in San Diego) to cool and air-conditioned (in Seattle) to the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field. Everything the makers of the game could think of, including full-motion video of the coin flip, is in here.
Watching Madden NFL 2000 is like watching a football game, but playing it is like piloting an F-14. In every phase of the game (before the snap, after the snap but before the pass, after the pass but before the reception, after the reception, just to run down the options on offense during a pass play - running plays, kicking plays, defense, and defense against kicks all have their own breakdowns), the twelve buttons of the controller do different things. It's a good thing there's a Practice mode, because trying to learn to control your quarterback in an actual game setting is like, well, having a quarterback who's never practiced try to run a play while 300-pound linemen try to take his head off.
Once you've assimilated the four or five pages of controller symbols in the manual, the game's still not quite playable, but after about fifteen minutes of practice on each play you're thinking of running (each team comes with five or six offensive sets, from which they can run three plays. Unless they audible, in which case they can run more.), you're ready to play. And once you've put in the effort to know what you're doing, the game's quite involving. The audio commentary (recorded by John Madden and Pat Summerall) is a bit repetitive, but no more so than the actual commentary during a football game, really.
In addition to playing "Exhibition" (one team vs. one team, start over when you're done) games, there's other, more complex game modes. "Season" takes your team through a full 16-game NFL season. You can re-align the divisions or play in the division the team is in in real life. The season goes all the way through the Pro Bowl. For some reason, you can play any game on the schedule, not just the one your team is involved in. In other words, if you're the Cowboys, but you think the Dolphins need a little help in week 4, you can go control the Dolphins during their game. In theory, one could play every game through the season, but people who want that kind of depth would be better advised to play "Franchise" mode.
In "Franchise" mode, you play a coach of an NFL team for 30 seasons. If you do badly, the team's owner fires you, and you have to go get a job from another team, if they have an opening, and if your lifetime record is good enough. Assuming you can keep a job, there's retiring players, draft picks, trades, free agents, and even contract negotiations to deal with. It's all very involving, and shows why real NFL coaches have a lot of stress.
But that's not all! There's also "Tournament" mode, "Fantasy Draft" mode, and "Situation" mode. The first two are relatively self-explanatory, while the third is mostly for NFL history addicts. The game recreates classic situations (Chargers vs. Dolphins, 1982 playoffs), and challenges the player to win. Once you do, the teams are unlocked and available for use in other modes.
Yet another way to play Madden NFL 2000 is the "Madden Challenge". Points are awarded for various tasks (passes of a certain length, scoring so many points, etc.) and for answering NFL trivia questions. If you score the maximum of 2000 points, you get secret codes that unlock parts of the game. Yes! There's STILL MORE of the game! But it's hidden, so why go into it here? Incidentally, the trivia questions seemed a little difficult, but the answers are probably available on the internet somewhere.
The graphics are great. whether the players are trash-talking, ripping each others' helmets off, or just running down the field, they're realistic enough that there's never any question about what's happening. The bigger characters easily shove the smaller characters around, and the problem some games have, where players "really" take up more or less space than their graphical representations (allowing tackles to be made from too far away, for example) is completely absent here.
The more you like NFL football, the more you'll like Madden NFL 2000. It's a good thing that new video game platforms are coming out, because it's hard to see what else could be done on the Playstation to make this a better NFL simulation.