Now, dont get me wrong, I was happy to tear open the envelope and find Madden 2004 waiting to be thrown into my PS2. But I was also a little sad. I had grown so fond of NCAA 2004, and I didnt want to ruin the good times we had together. A small voice inside me said that you cant love two football games at the same time, that its just not natural. That voice was right. Madden has moved in, and taken over my life. NCAA Football 2004 is nothing but a memory now. I have found a new love, and its named Madden.
Madden 2004 made it easy to leave NCAA Football 2004. When I first slipped in the disc I was greeted with several Madden Cards, a sort of reward for having played so much NCAA. The game was great, I loved all of the new goodies, and after playing through a franchise year I was able to import the players from NCAA Football into the draft.
Technically, Madden is tight. Better graphics and animation than last year, better sound, MUCH better commentary (someone must have given Al Michaels his coffee this year), great music, and tons of new features. The classic Madden controls are back and feel just as solid as ever, and the new playmaker controls work just as advertised.
Perhaps one of the most impressive new features has to be the new Owner functions. You can now relocate the team, change its name, control ticket and concession costs and build new stadiums. You hire and fire coaches, and training staff. You are the owner, and it puts a whole new spin on the franchise mode. Not only do you need to win, but you need to turn a profit. And with crybaby players asking for big moola, its not as easy as it sounds. My two time Superbowl champs, the Seahawks, had to move to Mexico City just to pay the bills. Oh, and running your rookies through training camp will drastically change how valuable they are to your team. Yeah, its that detailed.
The new playmaker system is the biggest twist to the actual game play of Madden in years. You are now able to adjust plays before they happen by tapping the right analog stick in certain directions. It takes practice, but it is far less obvious than the traditional audibles, far faster, and once you get the hang of it, you will be able to pull off plays that will leave your opponents stunned.
New also this year are improvements to the online play, hopefully eliminating the cheating that ruined the experience for many last year. The EA Sports Bio is also present, and EA says it will be in all new EA sports games. The Sports Bio keeps track of your accomplishments and ranks you as a player. That rank will carry over to other EA Sports games and you will receive perks and unlockable goodies depending on what your rank is. EA is planning on owning your console sporting soul.
So what are its faults? Really not much, theres always room to polish everything, but all in all this is an amazing football game. EA Sports has improved almost every aspect of the game and thrown in countless new options. Quite honestly, its the best football game out there. Please join me in a moment of silence for NCAA Football 2004.