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PS3 Review – Madden NFL 09

August 13, 2008 Written by Joseph Peterson

Madden is a game that comes out every year and is published by EA, everyone knows that. Everyone also gives EA a lot of complaints that they could just do a roster update. Well considering the install base that Madden, NCAA Football, and sports titles in general that buy the game every year EA would be foolish not to continue the strategy that they have been using for as long as I can remember. I am one of the people that is in that install base. I buy Madden and NCAA Football every single year at midnight launches. It is one of the games that I feel that I must have.

I love football and everything about it. I began playing Madden with Madden 95 on the PS1. I have been through both good and bad Maddens over the years. For the past 2-3 years the Madden releases have not been up to par. Things felt like they were missing, and almost like it was an incomplete game. There were many bugs that should have been caught withing testing. While yes I know that no game ships without any bugs, but these were glaring problems that made some of the games almost unplayable at times. So before I get to my impressions I will just say this. With this year’s release my faith in the Madden franchise has been restored. EA did football fans right this year with both NCAA and Madden. For the first time in a long time I’m not second guessing either one of my purchases.

I will let you all know now that I purchased the Collector’s Edition of Madden 09 so I could get NFL Head Coach 09 as well. The review for that will be up at a later date. The collector’s edition also came with some cool special features that are accessible through the main menu. Anyways enough with the talk, let’s get to the impressions/review of this game. You guys know how it goes. I tell you what I liked, followed by dislikes, and then let you know whether or not I feel the game is worthy of a purchase.

What I Liked:

  • Intro to stadium—this time when you are going to play and the game is about to start there is a nice little feature where it is showing your home stadium and it is zooming in on it. Not necessary, but it is nice.
  • -Interface—the presentation of the menus are great. Easy to access and very responsive to the user. They also look nice, which is always a good thing.
  • -Finally a net—there is finally a net that is lifted up when you are kicking, and then lowered after the kick occurs. While this is also not a big deal it is still one step closer to being more realistic.
  • -Hit stick effects—there have already been well over a dozen times where some of the hits in this game that you can cause or have occur to you that have made my jaw drop. EA did a good job of making it seem realistic when you run someone over with the hit stick. The whole screen shakes along with the rumble. My description doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. It is something you just have to experience firsthand.
  • -Commentary—the commentary in Madden of years past has been atrocious. This year is a huge step in the right direction. Yes you still hear some of the same things at times, but it is still a lot less than in years past.
  • -QB actually sets up—in years past you would drop back with your QB and push up with the analog stick and the QB would just move forward, well not anymore. Now when you do that your QB actually sets up like a real quaterback.
  • -Grass—yes the grass. It looks a lot better than before. It looks like they have completely overhauled the grass/turf from years past. It looks great in fact.
  • -Sideline players—while it isn’t accurate representations of the people that are on your team, it is a step in the right direction. In the past Madden’s it would seem like they were just cutouts, which is never a good thing.
  • -Crowd—the crowd looks really good from years past. Especially when you are running plays, it almost looks real at times. EA did a good job here.
  • -Presentation—the presentation of the game itself is solid. The way the deliver stats and everything during the game is great.
  • -Halftime/Postgame report (sort of)—well it’s better than just going to the pause screen so you can hit resume game or end gamee. Now you have the key plays that occurred over the half and you can watch them if you choose to do so.
  • -Play bluff—this is really a great feature especially when you are playing friends. I have faked out a lot of my friends at times because they will try to guess which play it is, and they end up guessing wrong.
  • -Quick audible feature—now when you want to call an audible you don’t have to switch formations completely, you can use the right analog stick. This definitely helps when you are running low on the play clock.
  • -Smoother and faster—the gameplay, menus, player movements are all just smoother and faster than before. In years past there would be a lot of times wher eit would even slow down with just trying to go through the depth chart. That is not the case anymore. Everything in this game is just a lot more fluid.
  • -RB actually move like RB—shouldn’t that be the case anyways? But it wasn’t. RB over the past couple of years seemed sluggish at times and wouldn’t make quick cuts or cutback quick enough to break away from the defense. In this year it just seems as if the players move like their respective positions.
  • -Accomplishment system—this was in years past, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like it any less. It is a great thing that this game keeps track of everything for you. From stats to personal bests and averages. Good to look back and reflect and see what you need to improve upon.
  • -Madden IQ—this year the game evolves to you as you play. If you perform well then the difficulty rises. This is all initiated when you fire up the game for the first time and you take the Madden IQ Test. It takes you through passing, rushing, defensive tackling, and defensive coverage.
  • -Roster update available on first day—I figured we would have to wait for this for a bit. But EA stepped their game up and had both a patch and roster update available by the time I got home from the midnight release.
  • -Music—I really like the soundtrack that is in this year’s Madden. I like all kinds of music so to me this is a great collection covering all genres.
  • -Rumble—the saying is true that you don’t know what you got till it’s gone. While I know this typically applies to relationships I’m gonna go ahead and apply this to the rumble feature as well. There is no greater feeling than running towards the ball carrier with your safety and using the hit stick on him and have that rumble kick in. It brings you into the game more. Even though it is a last gen feature I still love it the same.
  • -Slide protection—this is a great feature to be able to control which direction your O-line blocks after the ball is snapped.
  • -Defenses respond—the defenses seem a lot more responsive when you are playing now. They just do a better jobe of blitzing, covering, and tackling in general.
  • -Goaline is actually a challenge—there is no more just running up the middle without meeting a defender. It is actually a challenge when you are near the goaline.
  • -O-linemen can’t hold up more than one defender—this seems to be what EA fixed. In years past it seemed as if the O-linemen could block more than one defender on the goaline. Now it is a fixed ratio 1:1. If there is a man left on defense you better believe that he will get through and get to your ball carrier.
  • -Celebration zones—there are zones in the endzone that light up in blue for you to go into. Depending on the area you choose will result in a different celebration.
  • -Speeds of positions seem more accurate—everyone on the field seems to move how fast they should given their respective positions.
  • -Everything is more realistic—I don’t know how to explain it, but the atomosphere is amazing. It feels like professional football. EA definitely got this part down.
  • -Quick routes—just like the quick audibles you can use the right analog stick to choose various hot routes as well. It gives the player more options with which route they want their receiver to run.
  • -More realistic passing—the passing and reception in this year’s Madden are a lot better. If your receiver is catching a ball that you passed to him and is hit during the process he is more likely to drop the ball. Also if your QB is hit during the releas you lose a ton of accuracy and run the risk of being intercepted.
  • -Broken tackle animations—they are a lot more fluid and there are a lot more animations for your ball carrier to do.
  • -Fighting for yardage—your ball carrier actually fights for yardage and pushes forward as he is being tackled.
  • -Running in for a TD camera—when running in for a long score the camera moves in on your ball carrier and shakes with each footstep.
  • -History lessons during loading—while loading it gives you history tidbits about the NFL and various teams. Pretty interesting.
  • -No lag online—this is from my perspective, so I don’t know if you guys have experienced lag. But online for me has been a pretty smooth experience so far.

What I Disliked:

  • -Lack of buttons to choose plays—unlike the feature that was implemented in NCAA you still only have the X button to choose your plays. Not a big deal when playing online or in your franchise, but when playing someone else in the same room it is.
  • -No refs—should be in any sports game, and be visible at all times.
  • -No chain gang—should also be in every sports game and visible.
  • -No trophies—given the 2.4 firmware update when trophies were implemented it has shown a lot of gamers how fun trophies are, and how much replay value it can add. I would have been happy with the 360’s achievements but trophies implemented. Don’t know why EA didn’t put this in.
  • -If you Ask Madden for a play sometimes his commentary will get mixed up with the commentators of the game and they will talk at the same time.
  • -Fumble too much online?—I fumbled three times in a row because the guy I was playing hit sticked me each time. yet when I hit sticked him he wouldn’t fumble. Not sure if this is the way it’s supposed to be or if I’m missing something here.
  • -How everyone is choosing the Pats online—enough said. I play with teams I root for even though they are nowhere near the best. Texans and Falcons.
  • -Quitters online—can someone explain why I can’t get the win if some guy quits on me? I was up 21 to nothing on this guy. I was playing as the Texans and him the Pats (who would’ve thought) and I picked off Brady for the 4th time. All of the sudden he quits and my record still says 0-0 (it was my first game online).
  • -Commentary love Romo–they talk about him like he’s a God. Yes I know this isn’t a legitimate complaint, but I am a Texans fan.

Undecided:

  • -Hard to get pass rush—maybe it’s because I’ve never been that good at the pass rush, but is it a lot harder to get through this year? Or is just me?
  • -QB’s way too skinny—yes I know this is an aesthetic complaint, but I was playing as the Falcons and Matt Ryan looked like a stick. Am I the only one seeing this?

Purchase/Rent/Stay Away: All in all I haven’t been this satisfied with a football game in a long time. I said the same thing with NCAA when I reviewed it. But in my eyes Madden is well above even that. They both are great games though. This is the first Madden that has drawn me in this much since Madden 2004. Year after year it seemed as EA was just shoving the product out the door and relying on it’s install base to purchase the game for their foorball fix. Well not this year. This game is great, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interest in the sport of football. So if you are still unsure after this review atleast rent it and check it out. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score


Huge improvement over previous installments.

Online is great as always.

While not perfect, the great mechanics and graphical improvements will keep you coming back for more.

8 out of 10