Madden NFL '99
System: Playstation
Publisher: Electronic Arts Sports
Developer: Tiburon Entertainment
Released: 1998
Genre: Sports (Football)
Capabilities: Memory Card, Vibration Function, Multi-Tap

Review Originally Written: 1999
Review Updated: July 21, 2002

Madden Football on the original Playstation console started out not all that impressive. As a matter of fact, the very first ‘96 edition was canned because its main rival, NFL Gameday, was much better. The first official two editions of Madden on PSone (‘97 & ‘98) were a lot like the versions being published on the SNES & Genesis. The only difference being bigger sprite models of football players, and FMV’s of John Madden & Pat Summerall doing pre-game analysis. The ‘96, ‘97, & ‘98 years of football wars on the PSone were all one by Sony’s Gameday brand. This mainly had to do with Gameday’s awesome polygonal graphics engine. This wasn’t seen before on console football games.

So one day EA wised up and said, "Hey, Sony is kicking our ass!" They were hard at work at their first 3D game play engine, and the two years of work paid off. The players in here look very lifelike when you consider the capabilities of the PSone. The players move at a realistic rate, and thanks to the wonders of motion capture, we have some of the finest animations in the game. You’ll notice players doing different type of tackles, blocks, and touchdown celebrations.

The developers at Tiburon figured the flashy FMV’s of Madden & Summerall doing pre-game analysis wasn’t selling to the consumer, and they dropped most of them out in this game. There’s still a great FMV introducing you to the game with random highlights of actual NFL action. All the extra space from removing the FMV’s went into extra depth like making the numbers on players’ jersey’s readable. You look hard enough, and you’ll notice that the developers at Tiburon tried to model all the NFL stadiums as close as they could to their real life counterparts. The play selection system got a new overhaul as well, with a much easier layout to use then before.

These new graphics do have its flaws. You’ll notice some missing elements, such as no players or officials being visible on the sidelines. It also takes a while to switch in between menus during game play. For example, while playing the game, if you hit start to go to the menu to call a timeout, it takes a good 4 seconds to load up the pause screen. The last nagging part about it is the famous long loading times for EA games. Each round of Madden takes a good 30 to 40 seconds to load.

Madden & Summerall provide the usual color commentary. Thanks to the added storage of the cd format, we get loads more than the cartridge versions. I doubt you’ll appreciate it that much, though. Most of there comments repeat a lot, and the commentary isn’t as continuous as you might think. However, they do throw in a few unique comments at certain moments about specific players. Some of the stuff is unbelievable. For example, I was playing as the 49ers, and out of nowhere, Madden starts rambling about how Steve Young’s dad told him about the conditions while riding in the team bus. You just have to hear it to believe it.

The new controls are another wonder in Madden NFL ‘99. You can do so many things on offense and defense. On offense you can do all the standard stuff like dive, speed burst, and spin, but now you can juke. It’s a move where you fake to the left or right, and you move to the other direction. Two out of three times, this fools the defender and you gain more yardage. It also made Madden ‘99 one of the first games to have a solid running game. On the defense side, all the old stuff is here like tackling, speed burst, and jumping up to block a pass, but the new feature here is the ability to strip a ball and force a fumble. So no longer do fumbles and interception happen at random, but now you can make them happen by how you play. Play selection is also another key factor, and the hundreds upon hundreds of plays available to you will make it happen.

I was expecting the usual modes in Madden when I got this game, and I got them. The exhibition, play off, tournament, and season modes are all here. So is the option to create your own player and draft him on any team. There is one new mode that stuck out. That is the Franchise mode. Yes, the Franchise mode debuted in Madden ‘99, and it’s almost a standard in all the other football games right now. It starts out just like a regular season, but once you complete your season you get off season options like the ability to resign, and release players. You can also go through the draft and pick out the top college prospects. It’s not that easy as you think, players might negotiate higher salaries, and you have to follow within the salary cap provided by the NFL. Once you have that taken care of, you can play another season, and another, and another. You do have the option of simulating games, but what’s the fun in that? That is what regular season mode is for!

I spent hours playing that damn Franchise mode to death until Madden 2000 came out, and I’m sure you would too if this was the only PSone football game you had. You’ll be lying to yourself if you don’t have fun creating players. Come on, who wouldn’t want to be a starting QB or WR? The game is multi-tap compatible so a total of eight people can play at once. I always thought the massive multi player football parties belonged to the Blitz series, and I always preferred playing the simulation football games only with two players. It’s just better that way.

That’s the main rundown on Madden ‘99, now let’s get to the scores!

Graphics: 8.9
Sound: 7.2
Game play: 9.3
Replay Value: 8.5

Overall: 8.4

Madden ‘99 is the game that brought the series back into stardom. It stole the spotlight away from the Gameday series, and Madden has been a top contender in the market since. There have been several other Madden’s out since the ‘99 version, with the 2003 edition being the latest. They have more improvements, and more modes than this, and if all you have right now is just a PSone, then I recommend the Madden series for you!

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