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Madden NFL 09 Review

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Developer: EA Tiburon Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: August 12, 2008 Also On: PS2, PS3, Wii and Xbox 360

Seriously? It has been twenty years since Madden first began. Madden NFL 09 marks the twentieth anniversary of the first Madden. The franchise has been through its ups and downs, but still manages to be one of the top selling games each year. Many people own consoles just to play the latest version. For many years it had some decent competition, but since the buyout of exclusive NFL licensing, Madden has been unchallenged since the 2006 edition. In my opinion, this has hurt the quality of the franchise and and since the jump to next-gen, Madden has yet to fair well in the transition. But does Madden have any tricks in his magic playbook or has the creativity dried up?

Madden visuals just haven’t been up to par with anything else you see in today’s market. The game boasts that they have added over 100 new graphical elements to the the engine. Some of this is very true. There are plenty of end zone celebrations and player animations that liven up the field. However, some of the things they count as additions include field goal nets and grass textures. That’s nothing to brag about. There are also some frame rate issues when playing in traffic or charging down field. This has been an issue for years that really needs to be corrected before Madden can move forward visually. The presentation is basically on par with any other Madden, but it really could use an ESPN facelift. EA went out to buy the ESPN licensing and they really have yet to use any of it properly, besides the news ticker and this year, the broadcast team. While the 2009 version is by far the best looking, it still has a way to go.

Since the jump to next gen, for some reason Madden has dropped television style play by play and has used an announcer. Many did not agree with this move and EA heard the call. This year, the ESPN team of Cris Collinsworth and Tom Hammond. While this is a welcome change, you can tell it was their first year together doing a video game as many lines of dialogue are repeated throughout the game. The music soundtrack combines a mix of rock and rap that is on par with any other EA Sports game out there. The feel of being on the field is still as lively as ever. Madden has always been unmatched in this category.

Madden NFL 09 still plays the same way it always has. This user friendly play style has been Madden’s strong point for the past 10 years. However, there really have been no gameplay renovations since the jump to next gen. This is actually the first year where the hit stick has been fully reintegrated into the Madden formula. It seems as though the Madden team has had issues keeping these in, making the previous generation versions over the past few years better. Madden 2008 has finally changed this.

The new Madden feature this year is Madden IQ. This feature takes the Madden formula to figure out what things you are good and bad at in Madden. From this, the game automatically adjusts the difficultly settings to make the game against the computer an even match. While this seems like a welcome addition, it also hurts the franchise mode a great deal. Say you have a superstar athlete like Adrian Peterson. The first game in the season, he gains 200 yards rushing. From this, the computer sees this as a weakness in their defense and improves itself. The next game, he may get 150 yards, the next 100. This can turn star athletes into third stringers which hurts the team and makes even the Patriots look like the Texans.

Madden NFL 09 has finally caught up with the previous generation in all areas. The twentieth anniversary of Madden is definitely one of the better Madden versions in the past 5 years. Minus the addition of Madden IQ, there isn’t too much to hate about the newest version of Madden. The online league allows for 32 players to select a team and play through the NFL season. While many would enjoy this, it really seems as though it was a last minute add on and much more could have been done to improve it. Either way you look at it, Madden is still Madden. Whether you think it is worth $60 is up to you, but you are getting a solid outing from the EA Sports crew.

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.7
Written by Shawn Review Guide