March Madness 98

a game by EA Games, and EA Sports
Platforms: Playstation PSX
Genre: Sports
Rating: 7/10

Description

People say:

7.0

Finally, EA has brought out a college hoops game for the PS. Unfortunately, it uses a modified version of the Live 97 game engine. This means that in addition to slightly outdated 3-D graphics, it's way too easy to beat the computer (unless you challenge a good team with a really bad one). March Madness 98's biggest problem is that you can bully or finesse your way to the bucket with ease. One of my favorite easy-to-do cheap plays is passing to the other side of the court for a dunk before the computer players get back on defense. Playing against a good human opponent is much harder, at least. Still, there is a lot to like about this game. For one, atmosphere is a big part of March Madness, and unlike any other basketball title, it could affect the outcome of the game. The innovative (and optional) "Momentum Meter" is a very cool feature that pumps up or deflates your player's abilities according to how he is playing and how the crowd reacts. The less innovative, but appreciated college Fight songs, and detailed basketball courts also contribute greatly to the collegiate flavor of the game--and hey, you can even play with women's teams. I like this game, but EA should make their basketball games more challenging so that you don't need a second player to make them fun.

7.0

Another college addition gets a hand-me-down game engine. In fairness, the Live 97 engine is good enough to power this one but there are some flaws. Driving the lane like a steamroller, penalty-free is one. Another is the rampant breakaways after the throw-in. I forgive it though for the huge amount of teams available including the 11 women's teams. It's not as flashy as the pro editions but it shouldn't be--its college ball!

7.5

In the month of March, I'm all over college basketball, baby. This title is just what the doctor ordered, especially since it's the only college game around. The graphics in the game are pretty good, but could be better-I just wish they would stop using refurbished game engines from a year ago on their college stuff. Regardless, all of the features, options and solid play override most of its flaws, making MM 98 a worthy buy.

7.0

March Madness is a fairly solid basketball game. While it comes up short in the audio department (the crowd and sound effects are lackluster), it looks great. But Madness 98 suffers from the biggest problem plaguing most hoops games today: It's way too easy to get into the paint for an uncontested lay-up or dunk. Why do basketball games have so much trouble with defensive Al? Looking past that, MM 98 is a decent game.

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User Reviews

Overview

When you think of college hoops, you think of the road to the Final Four. March Madness '98 captures the passion and the intensity which is college basketball during the wild run to the be part of the Final Four. Okay, I love console sports games, they are probably the only types of console game that I play over and over again. They are great to play solo and even better to play against a human opponent but it seems that lately there have been so many different versions of sports games that it's hard to know which is the best one to get. If you cornered me and asked me which was the best basketball game that I have played, I would have to say that it is probably NBA Live 98...or at least until the next wave of hoops games come out. Visually it is stunning and the level of moves that you can make are awesome, but I might just mention March Madness 98 as a runner up. Sure it doesn't have all the fancy moves like the cross dribble and the head fake, maybe it doesn't have the incredibly detailed players like NBA Live 98 has but it has something almost intangible about it that makes me really like it. I can only say that it feels and plays more real than NBA Live 98.

First off there is a lot packed into this game and each one of these features just reinforces the feel of real college hoops. March Madness '98 comes packed with 107 Division 1 men's teams and 9 top women's teams, including: Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Old Dominion, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Virginia. That's a lot of college players represented here (not as many unique players as FIFA RTWC, but certainly a lot). What other game allows you to play one of the top 9 women's college teams? Many of these players have been motion-captured as well to provide a more realistic basketball experience. One of the women that was motion captured was Kate Starbird, former Stanford University basketball star. Here's what she had to say about being part of this game:

"As a computer science graduate, I was fascinated with the MotionBlending technology that EA SPORTS used to create such a realistic looking and playing hoops game. It was pretty incredible to see myself going through hundreds of moves on the real court then seeing those exact moves replicated in the video game. NCAA March Madness 98 will give both male and female fans a great outlet to enjoy the excitement surrounding college basketball. I also think that this game makes a strong statement about the success and recognition of women in sports. "

To add to the realism of this game, EA included not only faithfully replicated arena's (from the small gym to the larger Hoosier dome type stadiums) and college type jerseys (T-shirt, baggy shorts), but also by including the authentic pep band fight songs and other sounds of the game, like crowd chants. To do this they actually recorded music from college bands and crowd noise taken from actual games.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The fact that EA went to all the trouble to include all of the above into the game says something, but check out the game play. If you have ever gotten bored of just taking it to the hole and slamming it down over and over again, well forget about doing that here. The AI's a little bit better than that and they are tough in the paint! You may still be able to do that but it's going to take you a bit of juking and running picks to free up your man for the tomahawk jam. You can do this by taking advantage of on-the-fly play calling by pre-selecting some set plays from the Coaching screen and pressing R2 + the one of the other buttons to call up the play assigned to it. Once you have identified how the computer is going to play you, you can set up at the top of the key and call the play that you want and see if it frees up a guy to take it to the hole. One of the moves that I live for is the ally oop. If you take your shot and have a player near the basket you can get him to grab the ball and dunk it. This is a huge momentum booster. That's another extremely innovative feature of this game that adds to the realism of the game.

EA has included a momentum booster meter to the game. If you trade baskets, the meter will stay even but if you start taking it to the hole, dunking and breaking back boards, stealing the ball and running the floor and laying it up, the meter is going to swing in your direction. The more the momentum swings in your direction the better your players will start to play. Even though it more often than not works against me in a game, I really like this feature. After watching many basketball games, you can really see how much momentum is a factor in basketball. A team is struggling and can't buy a shoot, then a guy hits the three ball. Coming down court, he steals the ball and runs the length of the floor for an easy lay. You can literally feel the momentum swing in the game and EA has done an outstanding job of incorporating this into March Madness.

Graphics

Another thing that makes this game worth checking out is the detail that EA went to do to portray the different types of arenas that are used in college hoops, from the smallest to the largest. The level of detail in these stadiums, the advertisements placed on the score board tables, the wood grain on the hardwood, the player's shadows and the light reflecting off of the hardwood, all combine to make this a visually appealing game. They further add to the realism of the game by incorporating awesome motion captured polygon college basketball players! So that not only do the players look realistic but now they move in a lifelike manner.

Bottom Line

While I cannot say that March Madness '98 is the best basketball game that I have played, I definitely put it up there with the best. While it may not have all the special moves and finely detailed players that other simulations boast, it is by far one of the most playable and realistic of all the basketball simulations that I have played. It is actually interesting and challenging to play against the computer for more than a couple of games, so playability goes along way. The parts of the game that are 'must haves' are all there: setting the unbudging pick, real time play calling, give and go and more statistics than you would ever want, it also has some of the 'nice to haves' as well, like: the alley oop, multiple camera angles and moving camera, and shattering back boards. All in all this is a well put together combination of playability and realism without going overboard and putting too much into a game so that it becomes unplayable. So if you value playabilty and realism over the quantity of moves and button combinations then you won't be disappointed with March Madness '98.

reggie posted a review

Overview

When you think of college hoops, you think of the road to the Final Four. March Madness '98 captures the passion and the intensity which is college basketball during the wild run to the be part of the Final Four. Okay, I love console sports games, they are probably the only types of console game that I play over and over again. They are great to play solo and even better to play against a human opponent but it seems that lately there have been so many different versions of sports games that it's hard to know which is the best one to get. If you cornered me and asked me which was the best basketball game that I have played, I would have to say that it is probably NBA Live 98...or at least until the next wave of hoops games come out. Visually it is stunning and the level of moves that you can make are awesome, but I might just mention March Madness 98 as a runner up. Sure it doesn't have all the fancy moves like the cross dribble and the head fake, maybe it doesn't have the incredibly detailed players like NBA Live 98 has but it has something almost intangible about it that makes me really like it. I can only say that it feels and plays more real than NBA Live 98.

First off there is a lot packed into this game and each one of these features just reinforces the feel of real college hoops. March Madness '98 comes packed with 107 Division 1 men's teams and 9 top women's teams, including: Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Old Dominion, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas Tech and Virginia. That's a lot of college players represented here (not as many unique players as FIFA RTWC, but certainly a lot). What other game allows you to play one of the top 9 women's college teams? Many of these players have been motion-captured as well to provide a more realistic basketball experience. One of the women that was motion captured was Kate Starbird, former Stanford University basketball star. Here's what she had to say about being part of this game:

"As a computer science graduate, I was fascinated with the MotionBlending technology that EA SPORTS used to create such a realistic looking and playing hoops game. It was pretty incredible to see myself going through hundreds of moves on the real court then seeing those exact moves replicated in the video game. NCAA March Madness 98 will give both male and female fans a great outlet to enjoy the excitement surrounding college basketball. I also think that this game makes a strong statement about the success and recognition of women in sports. "

To add to the realism of this game, EA included not only faithfully replicated arena's (from the small gym to the larger Hoosier dome type stadiums) and college type jerseys (T-shirt, baggy shorts), but also by including the authentic pep band fight songs and other sounds of the game, like crowd chants. To do this they actually recorded music from college bands and crowd noise taken from actual games.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

The fact that EA went to all the trouble to include all of the above into the game says something, but check out the game play. If you have ever gotten bored of just taking it to the hole and slamming it down over and over again, well forget about doing that here. The AI's a little bit better than that and they are tough in the paint! You may still be able to do that but it's going to take you a bit of juking and running picks to free up your man for the tomahawk jam. You can do this by taking advantage of on-the-fly play calling by pre-selecting some set plays from the Coaching screen and pressing R2 + the one of the other buttons to call up the play assigned to it. Once you have identified how the computer is going to play you, you can set up at the top of the key and call the play that you want and see if it frees up a guy to take it to the hole. One of the moves that I live for is the ally oop. If you take your shot and have a player near the basket you can get him to grab the ball and dunk it. This is a huge momentum booster. That's another extremely innovative feature of this game that adds to the realism of the game.
EA has included a momentum booster meter to the game. If you trade baskets, the meter will stay even but if you start taking it to the hole, dunking and breaking back boards, stealing the ball and running the floor and laying it up, the meter is going to swing in your direction. The more the momentum swings in your direction the better your players will start to play. Even though it more often than not works against me in a game, I really like this feature. After watching many basketball games, you can really see how much momentum is a factor in basketball. A team is struggling and can't buy a shoot, then a guy hits the three ball. Coming down court, he steals the ball and runs the length of the floor for an easy lay. You can literally feel the momentum swing in the game and EA has done an outstanding job of incorporating this into March Madness.

Graphics

Another thing that makes this game worth checking out is the detail that EA went to do to portray the different types of arenas that are used in college hoops, from the smallest to the largest. The level of detail in these stadiums, the advertisements placed on the score board tables, the wood grain on the hardwood, the player's shadows and the light reflecting off of the hardwood, all combine to make this a visually appealing game. They further add to the realism of the game by incorporating awesome motion captured polygon college basketball players! So that not only do the players look realistic but now they move in a lifelike manner.

Bottom Line

While I cannot say that March Madness '98 is the best basketball game that I have played, I definitely put it up there with the best. While it may not have all the special moves and finely detailed players that other simulations boast, it is by far one of the most playable and realistic of all the basketball simulations that I have played. It is actually interesting and challenging to play against the computer for more than a couple of games, so playability goes along way. The parts of the game that are 'must haves' are all there: setting the unbudging pick, real time play calling, give and go and more statistics than you would ever want, it also has some of the 'nice to haves' as well, like: the alley oop, multiple camera angles and moving camera, and shattering back boards. All in all this is a well put together combination of playability and realism without going overboard and putting too much into a game so that it becomes unplayable. So if you value playabilty and realism over the quantity of moves and button combinations then you won't be disappointed with March Madness '98.

reggie posted a review
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