Once Again, Madden
Fights Off PS2 Retirement
You’re a huge Madden fan and have seen the glowing reviews on Cheat Code Central for Madden NFL 10. It looks great with promising new features. Yet it’s bittersweet for you. Because you, in fact, do not own a next-gen system (as evidenced by the fact that you still call the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 “next-gen”). You worry that the good folks at EA SPORTS have forgotten about you and your trusty PlayStation 2. Will Madden NFL 10 still be good without the fancy high definition graphics or online capabilities? All worthy questions that deserve answers.
While it may seem obvious, keep in mind Madden for the PS2 is not going to be the same experience as Madden for the PS3 or Xbox 360. It’s more than just graphics at this point; it’s everything. Gamers who see the commercials for the improvements made on the next-gen systems expecting only a difference in scaled back graphics will be greatly disappointed and should temper expectations accordingly.
Gameplay is exactly what you know; there are no large scale changes to the system at this point. Things have been left alone without a major overhaul instead focusing on minor tweaks to improve controls and customization options. For example, the right analog is now fully customizable to every position and move available. It’s a nice feature, if not one that will be game changing.
That’s the mantra for the rest of the tweaks to the PS2 version of Madden. Nice improvements, but they are all minor in scope and limited by the aging technology of the system. Take the next addition, the new and improved fumble recovery system. No longer simply a scramble hoping to turn up with the ball, now when both teams have a shot at a loose ball, players hit a sequence of buttons prompted onscreen reminiscent of a boss battle from God of War. Then there is the icing the kicker mechanic, where the defending player can call a time out late in the 2nd or 4th quarter. By rapidly pressing R1 and L1 the opponent’s kicking gauge frosts over and the controller vibrates more violently. Finally, there’s the momentum meter showing which players are hot and who is slumping. During play selection your player’s names scroll by so you know who needs to get the ball in their hands and who should ride the bench for awhile.
Graphically, the Madden series seems to have hit the wall a long time ago for the PlayStation 2. Things look similar to versions from yesteryear, which is still solid (all things considered) but obviously vastly inferior to the PlayStation 3. It’s not to say that the PS2 version is substandard as much as it is a boast of what’s capable on newer consoles.
One place that Madden typically shines is in the audio department, more specifically the soundtrack. A great selection of rock songs have been assembled from premium artists such as Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine, and Slipknot. Sound effects are bone-crunchingly realistic as ever with noise from the field greatly adding to the immersion. The most divisive issue for people seems to be the commentary, with camps split between enjoying and loathing the duo of Tom Hammond and Chris Collinsworth. I find no problem with them personally and am a fan of Collinsworth’s work, but your mileage may vary.
Beyond the business of playing on the gridiron, the usual suspects of features are back. Family Play is back with its simpler controls for gamers with various amounts of experience or familiarity with Madden and the NFL. Franchise mode, the stalwart option for Madden diehards, is back in similar form with mostly cosmetic changes over any real game altering differences. The real downer is now the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions have online Franchise mode support. When nobody had it we all dreamed of it together, but now that it’s out there PS2 users will undoubtedly opine for franchise competition with their friends online.
For a game with as much history and consistency as Madden has had on the PS2 platform, there are not many surprises for a gamer that is looking to make the purchase. With most games the question is, “Is this game worth the money for enjoyment?” In this case, 99% of gamers already know what is in this package and if it is for them. The real question here is, “Do I want to continue on my PlayStation 2 or save and upgrade to a newer console?” At $40, the PS2 version is certainly more affordable than the $60 for PS3 or Xbox 360 users. But as we are nearing the end of the PS2’s cycle, it may be more prudent to invest for the future and save the $40 towards a new console, particularly with the recently announced PS3 Slim and price drop.
At a time when the focus is on the improvements and additions made exclusively on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, PS2 users can feel forgotten. Even the Wii version, as drastically different as it is, has received wholesale changes. Yet the PS2 version keeps on chugging away, doing what it’s done while tweaking things as it goes. What it comes down to is this: if you’re not the type who needs to “keep up with the Joneses”, doesn’t own a newer console nor has plans to do so anytime soon, then Madden 10 for the PS2 is a solid and respectable game that you’ll undoubtedly enjoy. But if the PS3/Xbox 360 is on the horizon, hold off on Madden 10 until then; it’s superior in every way and worth the twenty dollar price difference.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
Pulling as much as possible from the aging system. 3.8 Control
Still a strong point with new customization options and some unique and fun additions. 3.8 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Top notch, as usual. 3.2 Play Value
An overriding sense of “been there, done that.” 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.