Madden NFL 2004
When it comes to sporting games these days, EA is unsurpassable. With great series like FIFA, NBA and NHL they have rightfully become the face of sport-simulation.
You can imagine my enthousiasm when I received NFL MADDEN 2004. I put it in the GC and fired up the system. To my surprise it needed a huge amount of blocks on a memcard to save a biography. I gladly skipped it in favor of my other saved games and quickly was relieved to find out you could save profiles in a reasonable amount of blocks aswell.
I started out with training games, football 101, to get myself going and learn the basic controls. This is a great set of tutorials that will get you started fast enough. The training menu also offers the option to play scenario-like situations. This is a welcome contrast to the career mode, where you own a team and have to make important decisions like buying/selling players or changing coaches, but also fun stuff, like designing shirts and merchandise and building out your stadium.
You see, this is all great and makes me happy, but it would be worthless if the gameplay itself was bad. Luckily EA has done a great job. The controls are easily the best I have seen in any game: they are very intuitive and allow for fast action. Combine this with some very realistic motion capturing and graphics and you’re in for sleepless nights with your friends.
One thing that’s especially top notch are the replays. I have never (ever) seen replays being done so impressively.. pure eyecandy and worked out very well. For example a touchdown where you can’t quite make out wether the player caught the ball before it touched the ground will be put on hold for a replay with slow-motion where you will see a close up of the action, before the points are given or denied. This way, nobody will have a chance to nag
The system to choose plays is like in most football games: you see a couple of moves at once with a button name and you select one by pressing the correct button, this way your friends won’t see what playyou pick (although they can always guess).
There are lots of plays to choose from, both in defense and offense, including fake moves. You can also create your own playbooks so no need to worry about diversity.
I have to admit, I haven’t played the game too often against the computer, only against friends. Maybe it’s less fun that way, because the GC won’t start growling when you run 90 yards for the touchdown while the defense is unable to catch you, but still this is a great game.
If you like american football: buy it, if not try it and then buy it