After a few years where it seemed that the franchise had become very stagnant, Madden is back and with a vengeance. Even though Madden 2008 was on PS3, it was more of a port over from the PS2 than a full next gen implementation. Therefore, Madden 2009 is the first true next gen Madden and it delivers. While I still have some problems with any game that is on a year to year cycle due to the short development schedule, Madden 2009 is the biggest improvement in the series in at least 5 years.
I would have gotten this review up earlier but I was in Florida till Friday and dying the whole time because I couldn’t wait to get home and get my game on. As soon as I got off the airplane I went straight to Gamestop to pick up my Collector’s Edition of Madden 2009 which comes with tons of bonus content as well as the full copy of Head Coach 2009 for the low price of only $89.99 lol. So anyway to the what you are waiting for.. the review.
Will Matt Ryan save the Falcons?
So the first thing that will happen after you turn your game on is encounter the virtual trainer in an attempt to determine your “My Skill” level. The virtual trainer runs you through four drills, Pass Offense, Pass Defense, Run Offense, and Run Defense. Based on your performance in these drills, Madden 2009 will create a custom skill level for you which in turn represents your Madden IQ which will change throughout your play based on how well or umm how not well you play. Your Madden IQ will always change from game to game, though you choose if you will play on your “My Skill” level or whether you will stay with the old standys of Rookie, Pro, All Pro, and All Madden. In theory I think the “My Skill” level is a cool concept but in application basically what it does is take whatever you do really well whether it be running the ball, or playing pass defense and amps up the A.I. in that category which is kind of frustrating because it causes the computer to be able to really counter whatever you do well, and the better you do anything the better the computer will be the next game. Like I said it is cool in theory but lets just say I didn’t use, “My Skill” level too long and reverted back to the difficulty levels I know but hey try it for yourself.
I am a Franchise guy, so I jumped right in with the Redskins. Oh before I forget and I did, if you are connected to the Internet, click the Online button and go to Play Now as if you are going to play a game, you aren’t but you are doing this so that it will prompt you to download the most recent rosters which as of the time of the post had Jason Taylor on the Skins and Favre on the Jets but did not yet have John Lynch on the Patriots. So anyway just make sure you do that before you start your franchise, you don’t want to short change yourself, so make sure you have the most up to date rosters. Franchise mode itself is not really any different other than it is executed better than ever before. It does however introduce Rivalry Games in which teams that you have a long history with will play harder when you play them. Each team has three rivalry games and the difference in the play of those teams is noticeable.
You can download a new insert of Favre in a Jets uniform from www.easports.com
The overall gameplay is excellent and they have really addressed a lot of the big “glitches” from past years. For instance, on quick out drags you are no longer throwing that quick pass to a receiver you can’t see, the camera now automatically adjust to keep all the players on the field in screen at all times. The players have tons of new animations and the play is just really fluid. It seems like they really just balanced the game out this year. They have also introduced “Rewind”, which after a mistake allows you to replay that play from the beginning. Now a lot of Madden purist will hate this new feature, but I think just one is excellent, hey everyone always has that one play that they wish they could get back, now you can. Noticeably missing is QB Vision which they have scrapped, again another interesting concept though I would be lying if I said I was going to miss it. The gameplay is also more realistic. For instance, no more sacking the QB eight times with the hit stick and he keeps getting back up, if you get to the QB with the hit stick you will hurt him more often than before just like in real life if the QB gets blindsided he goes to the bench.
The online gameplay is back and better than ever. The games run better and there are less dropped games. You can now have online leagues where you and your friends go toe to toe to find out who is the real Madden champ.
That’s all they got?
This year if you are playing on Pro or above the game really makes you play, no more of blowing teams like the Patriots or the Chargers out by 50, no the teams that are good in real life are good on the game. I played a preseason game against the Jets and Favre just dissected my D. Madden 2009 is challenging but fun. All in all I think this game represents a huge turning point in the history of the franchise and now they have raised the bar very high and they will have to keep up. If the game falls back into the lull that it did a few years ago I will be very disappointed. The only issue that I did have with Madden and Head Coach for that matter was that it started to freeze at very random moments but very consistently. After seeing it happen on Madden and Head Coach, I recognized the symptoms and diagnosed it as a similar problem to what happened to Grand Theft Auto IV when it first came out, the problem with the Internet, so I disabled the Internet and didn’t have the problem anymore, so if you are experiencing something similar try that.
I don’t know what will happen in the years to come, but this year Madden is awesome. For all the reasons I mentioned in this review, I give Madden 2009 a 4.7 out of 5. So go out and get it, and I will catch you online.