It’s football season folks, and the Pigskin is flying this year on the GameCube. Is Madden NFL 2002 a touchdown or just a bad pass?
I absolutely love football season. I’m a huge Packer fan, and every year when it gets slightly colder outside here in the great white north (crappy Vikings country), I clean off the grill, wash out the cooler, and get ready for football season. Ever year I plunk 50 bucks for a football game, whether it’s been on a Nintendo console or not. For the past couple years, it’s been on a non-Nintendo console. That is until now.
I play football games for the fun of playing, not for statistics, making my own team or any of that other stuff. I just want to play football really, and I look for a game that is realistic, plays well single-player and multiplayer, and looks good. The beauty of Madden NFL 2002 is that this game is really easy for anyone to pick up and play. If you want an in-depth sim, or if you just want to get your game on, it’s available to do immediately. Within moments you’ll be on the gridiron.
The controls are very easy to get used to for anyone. The setup isn’t much different from the prior N64 (or PS2) editions. If you’ve played a previous Madden game, you’ll feel right at home. One touch passing, tackling, diving, etc. It may take a little while to switch your controller knowledge to the GameCube, but it’s very easy to adapt to for any football veteran. The controls are tight, and generally responsive. I do have a couple gripes though. When you have a receiver assigned to the right or left shoulder buttons, due to the give that these buttons have, it takes a little longer to push it. I’ve been sacked a number of times due to this problem. Also to flip plays in your playbook you have to hit Z and A at the same time. If your buddy is sitting any where close to you, it’s quite obvious that you’re flipping plays if you have to awkwardly press the Z button and another button.
The biggest problem I have with Madden 2002 is the tackling. It’s easy to miss your target. I’ve had 3 defensive players around a receiver a few times and they’ve all missed. This doesn’t happen all the time, but enough to make the game frustrating. If your player is touching the opponent with the ball you should be able to tackle him, or at least not miss him completely. At first I thought it was because I was new to the game, but after more than a week of play it still sometimes happens.
Electronic Arts has created a very well balanced football game player- and team-wise. The AI is challenging, but not impossible to beat. If the game is too hard, or too easy for you, the difficulty is adjustable. I think it was 2-3 games before I actually succeeded and beat the computer, and I play with the Packers (duh) who are a decently equipped team. Then again, it took me a little while to get used to what buttons did what, and to try out most of the offensive and defensive plays. The Packers aren’t normally going to take down the St. Louis Rams (or for that matter who is), and my games against them have generally proved that fact.
Multiplayer Madden is where the fun really lies. Ever since I’ve gotten my hands on this game it’s been a nightly favorite with my friends. We must have played about 100 matches already just between the Vikings and the Packers (it’s a rival thing). There have been many late night gridiron battles in this apartment. Lots of screams because of interceptions at 2am will get notes from the landlord. If you have 4 people kicking back with a few Mountain Dews, screaming their heads off, you can just imagine the neighbors loving life.
Graphically, Madden 2002 will not disappoint. The players have lost the zombie eyes and look a lot more realistic. Players and coaches look like whom they are supposed to resemble. The animations of the players are very fluid and natural. Need a better look at everything? Check out the action with the instant replay. Zoom in on the football, or the players and see the detail on it. The TV style replays are done extremely well, and changing the camera view with the C-stick is simple. The stadiums that I’ve seen so far are almost identical to the real ones. The crowd and some of the players on the sideline still have that cardboard cut out look to them, but other than that I think Madden looks fantastic.
The color commentary isn’t as varied as I had hoped. The voice samples from John Madden and Pat Sommerall are clean and crisp, but after a couple games, it gets rather repetitive. Plus you’ll hear Pat say things like, “Number 9 goes back to kick”. You’re telling me EA couldn’t program all the players’ names in the game? Some people love John Madden and what he has to say. Other people can’t stand his ramblings. Well I will admit, this is the cleanest, most edited I’ve ever heard John Madden speak. This is not realistic. Where are the countless ramblings about stuff that doesn’t make sense? “And then and then and then then when you have some great players on the field, and you have great hits, and the sun is in the skyyyyyyyyyy, and the turkey has 6 legs and that’s the biggest one, and if you’ve got the 6 legged turkey, you’ve got some great football!” Now that would be real Madden talk. The sound of the hits, player sound effects, and music are well done. The crowd effects are also fantastic and go well with the action that is on the field.
If the single and multiplayer modes aren’t enough for you, there’s plenty of added modes and replay value packed into this disc. Sure you’ve got the usual franchise modes, and the return and expansion of the Madden cards. There are a couple of new additions and improvements to the series from the N64 days of Madden. There’s a new Create-a-team mode where you can create the dream team of your choice. You control everything from the look of the jerseys, to what style stadium, and what city it’s built in. Madden NFL 2002 also has a Two-Minute drill where you can take your team in the red zone, on offense and defense, and duke it out. Madden 2002 also supports wide screen televisions. I don’t have one, but it sure would be nice to see all receivers on the screen at once.
The John Madden football franchise is now in it’s 12 yea….season. Fortunately for Madden fans the game hasn’t changed that much. It’s a football sim, with an arcade touch to it. It’s realistic enough for me. I’m hoping with the 2003 version you’ll be able to download current statistics weekly, as well as use the Game Boy Advance for play calling. But for now, Madden NFL 2002 is a solid, hard hitting football game.