Madden 2004

Games - EAs 's Madden 2004 Review PS2
EAs 's Madden 2004 Review PS2
Madden 2004, just another updated football game for the new NFL season? No, Madden 2004 has rewritten the script for all NFL games out their on the market. Electric Arts have stripped down and rebuilt the John Madden game while adding some great new features that seamlessly blend in with the rest of the game. So if you have one of the previous incarnations of the Madden series you had better put you hand in your pocket and get the new all Madden 2004 which has set a new benchmark for all NFL games to follow.

One of the new features to Madden 2004 is the Playmaker feature which is similar to calling an audible. When lined up waiting for the snap you can use the playmaker feature. If you don't like what you see on the defensive side the playmaker will let you change the play and switch it to the other side of the field. For example, if you see someone on the defence lining up ready to blitz the left side of play and you are planning on running the left side of the field you can press the right analogue stick to switch direction of play to the right side of the field.

You can also control play after the ball has been snapped. If you want to heavily block the defence on one side of the field to make a run you can direct you team mates to run and block the defence so the man with the ball can make his run. This is easily carried out as all you have to do is push the right analogue stick in the desired direction. This tactic will not always work as the success rate will primarily depend on the speed of your blocker.

The playmaker control can also be used on passing plays. After the snap you can use the playmaker control to have a designated receiver break off his set route and go in a variety of directions. This is a very good tool if you see a gap appear in the defence. This is a very risky exercise though, as you will not have time on your side as every single linebacker will be aiming for your quarterback, but if you think you do have enough time you can use this playmaker control to gain a few extra yards.

When playing defensive you will not get as much use from the playmaker control system, you can simply shift the overall coverage to the left or right. This makes thing a little more difficult for the offence when running, that is so long as you have gone the correct way. After the snap you can also shift you coverage from run to pass or vice versa. The new playmaker control system adds a new level of tactics and strategy to

Games - EAs 's Madden 2004 Review PS2
Games - EAs 's Madden 2004 Review PS2
Games - EAs 's Madden 2004 Review PS2

Madden that I have never seen before. You have a lot to gain but you also have a lot to loose if you read the oppositions play incorrectly.

Also new to Madden 2004 is the Deep Owner Mode. This is almost like a business simulation, you will be responsible for everything involved in running a football team you will take control of the price of the tickets, parking, and even the food. So you have to keep the fans happy while making enough money to support the stadium and the team. You are also responsible for the teams performance, so if your team misses the playoffs every year and generally not giving good performances the fans support will falter, which will in turn have you changing the prices of tickets, food etc just to keep your fans happy and keep coming back. If your career does come to this it is all down to you, because you are presented with plenty of information and advice. You will get advice from advisors who will give you basic information on how to improve you fan base but while doing this you must keep an eye on all the financial graphs and the balance sheets to make sure the club can support itself. You will have loads of freedom in the Owner Mode as you will even be able to build a new stadium or move to a completely different city.

If all of this sounds a little too much or you are just not business minded you can switch off the owner mode and settle for the franchise mode. The franchise mode itself has also change a little, now the training camp has been integrated into the franchise mode. This has changed things a little when it comes to the big game because the results of the training camp will directly have an effect of players. If you want to practice running plays with your half back you will have to choose one from the roster. Then if that half back does particularly well during the training sessions you will receive a number of upgrade points to add to the chosen halfbacks attributes. This enables you to make good players out of all of your team, even if they are not so great to start with.

The commentary has also been improved upon as Al Michaels has lots of stuff to say about virtually every single play. John Madden is a bit of a let down because he does repeat himself a bit too much as his comments are quite generic. The interaction between the two commentators does make for some decent commentary that does not sound like random lines have been stuck together.

The PS2 version of Madden 2004 is the only version of the game that supports online play. You can jump straight into a game or you can have a look in the various lobbies or alternatively you may create your own lobby. Madden 2004 supports the USB headset that was supplied with SOCOM which is a great addition. With the online setup you can choose to play in or create a tournament with up to 32 players. These games have a time limit and if they are not completed within the deadline both teams will be automatically eliminated from the competition. As you would expect, you can alter many variables of the tournaments such as difficulty, time of each quarter, number of teams and many other things. The main thing though, the game play online does not appear to suffer from lag, obviously if you don't have a great line you may suffer some problems.

Madden 2004 is a remarkable American football game, all the new features and have been integrated seamlessly, and after playing Madden 2004 you will probably wonder how you made do with out the playmaker controls. All in all Madden 2004 is a brilliantly rounded game that is a must for anyone, even if you do own one of the previous versions. If you have a PS2 the online play provides plenty of icing on the cake. What more could you want.

9.5 out of 10

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