Madden NFL 09 Review – It’s not Madden NFL 08.

Madden NFL 09

Electronic Arts, Tiburon

Ps3, Xbox 360

Madden NFL is one of the biggest franchises in video gaming today. It’s one of those rare series that constantly has to clear the bar that it previously set for itself, receiving a bunch of hype that it’s expected to live up to. Madden 08 didn’t. It was a wreck in just about every way that I looked at it. This is the 20th edition of Madden, so Tiburon wanted to make a big deal of it, adding lots of new features, improving previously broken gameplay mechanics, and fixing any nagging flaws that were at large. Now that it’s here, I am absolutely blown away by Madden 09. It returns the series to the highest pedestal, becoming the first true next generation sports game. It’s got immensely impressive graphics, and a killer soundtrack along with authentic voice recording. The gameplay has been smoothed out with a great working animation system. On top of all of that, Madden 09 is one of the only sports games to have enough to do to last until the season is over. Stop reading the review now, and go and pick it up, football fan or not. For those of you that need the details, I’m obliged as a reviewer to get into it’s depth and complexity. So, I’ll get on it.

J-E-T-Brett-Brett-Brett-Brett

Graphics

Madden 09 is a great looking game. This is without exceptions that it’s a sports game. As a game in general, it looks excellent. Everything just looks great. The stadiums aren’t quite as jaggy as we’ve seen them in the past. They are detailed well, and look about as real as you’d expect them to. When compared to their real life counterparts, they match up quite well. Player models are the real star of the show. They all move fluidly with little to no odd transition animations. Players’ faces have all been scanned well, and they look great. When you go into replay mode, and you pause on Eli Manning’s face, you can actually tell that you are looking at Eli Manning. It’s incredible and adds to the authenticity of the title. The grass on the field is no longer just painted on, there’s much more detail put into the fields. When it rains, the mud really shows, as it gets on players’ jerseys and makes them slip. When mud gets on a player, it’s not scripted, it’s all dynamic, meaning that if running back gets flipped and hits his head on the ground , the exact part of his helmet that hit will be dirty.

It’s all the little things that make Madden look great. Players jerseys ripple realistically when they move. They actually move a little in their stances, making them seem less like robots. After plays, nobody simply turns around and goes into the huddle. Players will bend down to catch some air, others will jog over to a teammate and help him up, or get into verbal fights with opponents. Great. Just incredible.

On the opposite side, it’s also the little things that make Madden not look so hot at times. Two problems that have always annoyed me are still looming. Although sidelines are improved, they still aren’t perfect. usually asking for perfect is impossible, but after 20 years, I’d expect EA to finally put as much detail to the players on the sidelines as they do into what goes on the field. Finally, when the ball comes out of a QB’s hand, it looks great in game, but when replayed in a slower frame, the ball actually clips through his hand or shoulder, and warps out of his hand. Eww. However, it’s what’s in gameplay that counts, and Madden 09 looks incredible, on either the 360 or Ps3. It runs at 60, has a ton of detail, and it virtually glitchless.

Madden 09 LOOKS next gen

Sound

We’ve had to suffer through that retarded radio announcer the last few years. He was often inaccurate with what he was saying, along with being slow worded and having an annoying voice spoken at a low volume. Now, he is dead. YAY! In his place, are Chris Collinsworth from NFL Network, Tom Hammond and John Madden. All three of them do a great job. They have actual conversations with each other, and the recorded voices are lengthy with tons of word variations thrown in, and although you’ll often hear the same lines over and over, it’s not as painful as it used to be. They’ve done a good job, and you’ll appreciate it if you’ve ever played Madden 07 or 08.

On the field, sound effects are crushing. Players’ pads hitting each other, the grunts of struggle are strong, the huffing and puffing of out of breath recievers, and the booming cheers of the crowds are great. Trash talk is heavier than ever, and it’s all very realistic, immersive, and funny. The players are depicted as their stylish, rich selves, and it’s really good.

This year’s soundtrack is the best of this generation. There is a variety of different beats, spanning a large range of genres. Everybody will find at least 5 songs that they love. The new theme song orchestrated just for the 20th edition is great, deep and meaningful. It’s no Madden 04, but the tunes here are great, especially Diamond Life by Tyga.

Overall, the sound quality in Madden 09 is rich. The soundtrack kicks ass, announcers aren’t cheesy, and sound effects are immensely realistic.

Expect some trash talking after this play

Gameplay

When you first start up Madden 09, you will be asked if you want to take the Madden Test. This is a series of exercises testing your ability. All the tests take place in a virtual training center, and the visuals at work here are genius. It’s sort of like Rez HD, but it’s Madden Football. You do a few plays passing, rushing, and defending, and you are assessed a Madden IQ. This effects the difficulty that you play on, making every single game a good challenge, that feels just about as realistic as possible. There will never be an unfair match against the computer AI. If your skill changes as you play, you can take the Madden Test whenever you want. The better your stats get, the higher your IQ gets, and vice versa. Every single time you play Madden, the AI adjusts to how good that you are. It’s not only a well working system, but it’s innovative as well.

This year, Madden plays much better. The animation system is no longer jumpy, and everything just looks and feels a lot smoother and organic. The controls seem a lot speedier and more responsive than they ever have been in the past, so the highlight stick whilst running works a lot better. The camera angles are further back, and more dynamic. The formula hasn’t been changed, it’s just been polished. Clipping is kept to a minimum, and the physics at work are brilliant. This helps everything stay realistic. Madden has never been more fun, responsive, and life like in it 20 year history.

Protect that QB

The amount of presnap audibles and adjustments that can be made is very high and flexible. Because of the use of every single button gives you the ability to almost create your own play. You can tell any receiver to do any route, and how long it should be, you can change your formation, tell blockers where to block, and ever create a fake handoff. So, if you don’t like the lineup the defense has, you can change it.

If ever you make a mistake, such as an interception, or allow a sack, Chris Collinsworth and EA BackTrack will help you out. This is an epic slideshow and clipshow after the play, and Collinsworth believably explains to you where a reciever was open, he shows you the opposing team’s play chosen, and he tells you where you went wrong. It’s really authentic, and it feels just like an NFL Network telecast.

The EA Rewind is something that you can set at the beginning of a match, and this is something that lets you redo any play over again. Against another person, it can be a nuisance, say they return a kick, and you choose to rewind that, they would be upset. However, against the AI, it can become something that you come to rely on, if you’re ever cheaped out by the AI, or if you see something that would’ve worked in EA BackTrack.

Something that’s bothered me in Madden 07 and 08, is the slow moving menus and rosters. That has been completely fixed in 09. It seems like such an obvious thing to have, smooth running menus, but even the menus were messed up in previous iterations. What a long way that Tiburon has come. You need to make mistakes to learn, so throw an interception, and watch EA BackTrack. In Tiburon’s case, it’s make slow moving menus, and face the complaints of critics.

Franchise mode hasn’t seen any adjustments to its interface, and the way that it’s setup, but if you choose to actually play your games, then you’ll see the enhancements. It’s to the gameplay, not to the actual franchise. Franchise is still a blast, that will take up a lot of your time. It’s still not perfect, as proper practice is still missing, along with Training Camp. Scouting is still intact, and so is the offseason and player negotiations. You can take any of the 32 teams in the league, and act as the team GM. Ownership and business is kept to a minimum. This mode is all about personnel control, and it’s really fun, it’s just getting a little old.

You can take any Franchise online with up to 31 others. This seemed like a great idea, but the execution just falls short of greatness. Online Franchise seems really dumbed down. There has to be 32 players for the franchise to work, as no AI assisted teams are there. The draft feels a little dull, as you can’t scout properly, and you can’t even select, it’s all automatic.

However, there isn’t any lag online, everything always runs at 60 frames, and the controls are still responsive. Just playing a match online against another is what’s been best about Madden online, and that hasn’t changed.

Superstar mode also hasn’t seen too many changes, other than the fact that menu music plays during practice. This is such a small new feature, but I appreciate it a lot. There’s nothing like some good music to help boring SuperStar practices come alive. In SuperStar mode, you take the career of a rookie in the NFL, or you can generate your own. You play through their NFL career, make different negotiations with teams, become an idol, or a free agent forever. You can sim when you aren’t on the field, or you can watch your teammates play it out. The camera angle is changed to focus on your own player, and it’s a nice effect. Superstar mode is a ton of fun, but it could use a facelift. If we could only take our studs online.

Nothing is better than blizzard games. Nothing.

Value

Online leaderboards, Madden IQs, Franchise mode, and Superstar mode will take your time. And, this year’s game is so much damn fun, that it will undoubtedly last you until next year’s game.

Final Verdict

Madden NFL 09 is an incredible game. It has so much polish, and so many new features, that it raises a few eyebrows. Great visuals, incredible sound design, and smooth gameplay make this the best Madden game this generation, and one of the best sports titles of the year. Get this if you are even remotely into football. If you aren’t into football, you are probably a communist. Buy. This. Game. Right. Now. Mother.

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~ by smithbubbajones on August 14, 2008.

2 Responses to “Madden NFL 09 Review – It’s not Madden NFL 08.”

  1. y dont u do do an endwar preview already.

  2. I can’t do a preview until I’ve played the game in some way, shape, or form. Some phaggot told me that a playable demo would be available near the end of October

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