|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: EA Tiburon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA Sports||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The Franchise Mode has been given a minor tweak with the addition of a new scoring system called Franchise Decades. It's essentially an extra screen where you can track your progress as a franchise manager by winning games in the regular and post-season, increasing attendance, making smart draft picks in the off-season, and more. It also seems like a pretty unnecessary and uncreative new feature.
NFL Superstar Mode has been given a somewhat interesting new feature that puts more focus on fulfilling your contract and building your status as an MVP. Attending all required practices and staying in the coaches good books will be essential to avoid being traded and souring your reputation as a professional. Skill Drills introduces receiving into the mix of drills and Fantasy Challenge hasn't changed much either, featuring three additional teams to beat and a new Champions Stadium.
Visually, the character models and the way the players move look pretty impressive on this older console version. Sometimes, graphics suffer in games prioritized for current generation consoles, but Madden 09 looks bright, clear, and does a great job of simulating the NFL atmosphere on the PS2. That being said, the game isn't without visible flaws, which occur a bit often. You will notice some stuttering and skipping in the animations and half-second pauses, as the console takes time to load up the animations. It's not a major problem, but it is definitely noticeable. It also seems as though not much has changed in the way of new animations, as extremely familiar and perhaps identical cutscenes from last year often make you feel as though you're playing the exact same game. Lack of detail and crowd movement looks somewhat unrealistic when concentrating on the background, though the stadiums all look amazing and incredibly atmospheric. The sound of the players breaking up from the huddle and shouting at each other before coming to the line adds a nice amount of realism to the game, though another complaint I have is that the commentary of Cris Collinsworth and Tom Hammond is choppy and unimpressive, and it seems John Madden's words of wisdom haven't changed much for this version at all.
In all, Madden NFL 09 is a wonderful game for football lovers. Heck, EA has the formula so down-pat by now, how could it not be a good title? However, it fails to offer enough reasons for those who spent their money on last year's installment to purchase this one. Where updated titles usually feature upgrades in gameplay and new challenges, Madden 09 takes somewhat of a step backwards in its concentration on offering even more simplified controls and the new Family Play mode. Still, for those who haven't been keeping up with Madden in the past few years, this is a great title, while not offering many improvements since 08.
CCC Freelance Writer