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Madden NFL 2002

Review By:  Roger Taylor

Developer:  EA
Publisher:  EA
# of Players:  1-4
Genre:  Football
ESRB:  Everyone
Online:  No
Accessories:  Memory Card
Date Posted:  12-28-01

Iíve always found it funny that people get upset if a new game in a series is released without any major changes. And yet that exact thing happens every single year with every single major sports series; Madden included. Madden NFL 2002, unfortunately, follows that pattern.

For the handful of people in this world who have never played a game in the Madden series, letís get one thing straight: Madden is a football simulation. It does not feature any of the arcade-style craziness of NFL Blitz, nor does it attempt to improve upon the game of football in any way. Instead Madden gives you football, true and untouched. Iím not a football fan, so Iím probably not the best judge, but I know that baseball video games are best when they get past the garbage and just let you play baseball. Madden is the football equivalent.

Gameplay in Madden 2002 is tight. And it has no reason not to be, after being refined for more than ten years now. Passing, running, punting, kicking and every other aspect of football are well represented. The controls in the game are brilliant in scope, and almost overwhelming at first (though this is coming from someone who hasnít spent much time video game football since Tecmo Bowl for the NES). On offense, pressing the A-button hikes to the quarterback. In a running play, simply let the halfback or fullback run up to you and hand it off. At this point you take control of the runner, holding A to sprint, and pressing either B to dive, X to hurdle, Y to spin, the camera stick to hold your arm out, and L and R to "juke" (sidestep) left or right. Running after a pass or a punt or kick return is handled the same way. This all may seem a bit unnecessary at first, but itís vital to master these skills in order to succeed against the computer on higher difficulty levels, besides, the controls come naturally after spending some time with the game. The gameplay is all very balanced, which is necessary for any simulation.

But all this can be found in any good football game (see NFL2K2 for this seasonís other one). What makes Madden stand out is its long list of features and modes. After switching the game on you are immediately presented with the option of "Easy Play," a concept that EA Sports has been tinkering with the past few years. Easy Play is more or less a dumbed-down version of the main game, featuring a smaller list of plays to choose from and some minor changes to the gameplay to ensure that the game cruises along. You need not worry about strategy, instead focusing on "just having a good time." The deeper game modes include tournament, training (in which John Madden himself guides you through how to run plays), season, franchise, create-a-player, create-a-franchise, and the new two-minute drill mode, which has you scoring as many touchdowns in two minutes as you can. Some of the modes can be used to earn points with which you can buy "Madden Cards," which unlock classic teams, cheats and other stuff. Once again, it all may seem in excess, but is certainly a treat for those who enjoy the core gameplay enough to spend some time with it. All the modes are polished and impressive, particularly the franchise mode, in which you take control of a team and guide them across several seasons. Every year you have to deal with signing and resigning free agents, drafting new players and other such wheelings and dealings. It certainly isnít as interesting as a baseball managing sim to me (i.e. Baseball Mogul), but it features so much depth that itís hard not to get sucked in by it all. 

However, as entertaining as the franchise mode is, it is also the embodiment of the gameís fatal flaw. Madden 2002 simply takes up too much space on a memory card. Make that, on multiple memory cards. Franchise mode alone takes up all 59 blocks on a standard GameCube card, and thatís to say nothing of create-a-franchise, preferences, and anything else you might save. All-in-all Madden 2002 will take up about $20 worth of memory card for the average gamer. That has always been a problem with EA products in the past, but it is taken to ridiculous new heights (lows?) with this new version of Madden.

The main thing that holds this version of Madden 2002 over its PS2 counterpart is graphics. Football has never looked so good as in this game, with rock-solid animation, and not a jaggy in sight. All the new effects, like out-of-focus backgrounds and Matrix-style camera tricks, are pulled off with perfection, and the weather looks better than ever.

The sound isnít too shabby either. The announcing team usually has something new to say, and only occasionally do I get so fed up with John Maddenís inane comments that I mute the TV. "The receiver canít catch [the ball] if you knock it down." ÖMind-opening commentary from the man himself. EA manages to sneak in some of its trademark humorous loudspeaker announcements, and the crowd reactions are in good shape; although sometimes the levels are off so that the crowd drowns out the announcers. Whether thatís good or bad is your call. Most of the menu music is decent, but I have to question why the unbearably irritating "Madden 2002 Rap" was put on the disc and played at every opportunity. Has no one learned anything from Donkey Kong 64?


  • Great, balanced gameplay
  • Lots of modes, options
  • Solid sound and graphics


  • Takes up to much space on memory cards

Final Verdict:

As mentioned before, with the amount of space it takes to save your game stuff, youíll be spending at least $20 on memory cards, just for Madden 2002. This game is good, but it isnít worth $70. Still, if you must own a football game, this is probably the best on the market, maybe just a step ahead of NFL2K2. But either is marginally preferable to the perennially craptastic Quarterback Club or Gameday seriesí.

Note to EA: If you ever make me use more than one memory card for a single game again, I will personally sick feces-throwing monkeys on your workplace.

Overall Score: 9.2

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