Madden NFL 2001
System: Playstation 2
Publisher: EA Sports (aKa Electronic Arts)
Developer: Tiburon Entertainment
Genre: Football Simulation
Capabilities: Multi-Tap Compatible, Dual Shock 2 Analog & Feedback Compatible, Memory Card Compatible
Madden Football, the longest running football video game series ever, usually the game means excellence on every system (well, except the Game Boy of course.) But usually, EA Sports has a bad record of the first port of its critically acclaimed football series on new consoles. For example, the first Playstation game only featured sprites, not so good competing against the then-great polygons of NFL Gameday. The first N64 version, Madden Football 64 (98 game actually), was the only Madden console game that year to feature polygonal graphics, but didnt have an NFL team license, so NFL Quarterback Club 98 easily outsold it. Will this version manage to overcome the other Madden debuts? Lets get onto the review and find out.
Those commercials of the game running in up close instant replays sure look pretty and realistic, and I must say, thats how the game looks with the zoom and demo cameras, and after every play shot. The game runs smooth, and there really isnt much slowdown at all in the game. There are several camera angles to play your game from, just about all of them are playable. The menus are the easier than ever to navigate, and you shouldnt have any problems with it. The play books are designed in two different ways, the go to guys where your play formation tiles turn into NFL player tiles, so you pick a player, and you get plays made especially for that player, kind of neat, but I prefer the classic style much more. The animation is a beauty, and theres way more animation in all the tackles and moves than in NFL2K1, well except when you press the tackle button, instead of jumping a few feet, where you try to make a diving tackle, your player just looks like he stumbles on the ground, making defense nearly unplayable (Ill move onto that later.) A good advantage over NFL 2K1, is that all the players on the field, and even on the sidelines are 3-D rendered, unlike in the Sega title where all the sideline players are pixilated. Theirs also lots of celebrations in the game, and all of those look great too, and add to the presentation. But for the most part, the arena, the players, and everything looks pretty realistic, and impressive for a first generation PS2 game.
The Bad & Ugly
The zoom in close ups are really something to marvel at the first few times, but after a while, those eyes on all the players start to stick out, I mean they all look the same, even though they are animated and you see them looking along, they do get annoying as hell! I mean, at least there are different player faces for all the characters in NFL 2K1. The only faces that are different are the ones of the NFL coaches! There are also many other little nit pickings at the graphics, like the size proportioning isnt exactly as up to par like in NFL2K1 and even the Dreamcast version of NFL Quarterback Club 2001! And when you kick PATs and Field Goals, the camera doesnt even follow the football when you kick it. Oh, and since the PS2 has only the same amount of VRAM as a N64 without an expansion pak (only 4), there are jaggies galore around the active players (in the after play zoom ins, the surrounding players are anti-aliased by slightly blurring them, but the main player is really noticeably jaggy). Also the instant replays arent even as good as the ones in NFL 2K1, but the ones where you make a touchdown are pretty nice, where it follows the football close up until it lands in the receivers hands! But Im sure most of these little nit picks were here so theirs something to be noted to be improved in next years version.
The second the opening FMV started I knew I was going to hate the music. For the whole menu navigation, and the opening FMV, its all rap music! And man does rap music really get repetitive in a football game. Every time I start up the game, I have to mute out the sound every time until I start game play. Madden & Summerall are your usual commentators, and they do a pretty good job, and even though they sound really repetitive right away (John Madden says Both of these teams look ready to go! at the beginning of each and every game!). Summerall does the play-by-play, where he calls first downs, sacks, touchdowns, and the plays as theyre going. Madden throws in random comments here and there. And you get periodical updates from Lesley Visser on the sidelines, giving you coaching opinions. Even they do start to repeat themselves, I dont get as annoyed as other people pointed it out to be, but the NFL 2K1 commentating is definitely way better.
The referees sound really great, and sound like theyre actually coming from a real game. All the usual sound effects are here, and you even get the usual defense chants throughout the game. You wont believe some of the stuff you hear the PA announcer saying in the background like, Ticket number 3452, your car is being towed or Ticker number 29341 you have one a pizza! It actually makes you feel like youre sitting right there at the game. And another neat, new feature is when youre selecting your play formation, and press the square button, you get a little spiel from a coach giving you advice, even though its a really useless feature, but I guess it helps out in the long run.
The game controls fairly well, the loading screen for the game tells you the controls so you never have to consult the manual. For the offense you got all your usual moves like speed burst, spin, lateral, juke, and stiff arm. And for defense you can speed burst, jump, and try to strip the ball away. Everything executes well, except for tackling, where your players dont make the diving tackles youd expect them to do, instead they just do a weird stumble to the ground, so make sure youre right next to the player when you try to tackle them, or expect major gains. Offense is really nice to play, the new easy-play option for novice players has a simpler play book, easier passing control, and assisting in running and receiving. I gotta say though, it really is pretty simple to break through the offensive line though, and that juke sure does make it even easier.
Theres always something new in all the Madden games, some years EA Sports disappoints us with just updated rosters, but this year they went all out. They got the NFL Coaches license, so you can now select your coach in the setup menu. Plus in between shots during the game and after the game, you see the coaches yelling at the players and shaking hands with the other coach after the game, a really nice plus. Also there are new Madden Cards which you can buy by earning tokens by completing in game challenges, some being simple like making three tackles by one player, others a tough challenge to accomplish. By earning these Madden Cards (designed by sports card manufacturer, Upper Deck) you can exchange them to unlock more in the game like hidden teams, for example. Those are the only major new features in this game, with also the usual updated rosters and teams.
The Game Modes
All the usual modes are here, quick start, where you just easily hop right into a game with default settings and rules so you can practice at the game. Next, theres Practice mode where you go into a practice dome, and try out any plays you want or work on your game style. Then theres exhibition where up to eight players can play, where you pick your teams, and customize the options to your choosing. Then theres season mode where you lead your team through the 17 week season, and all the way to the Super Bowl, the season mode has the real NFL 2000 schedule, and lots of stats for all the team and league leaders, plus even player of the week awards. And finally, theres Franchise mode, the mode the Madden series pioneered in its 99 edition of the game, where you play season upon season, sign, release, and draft new players after every season, yes the mode is the ultimate way to play for the lonely gamer.
Create your own team of monsters, by trading, signing, and releasing players until your satisfied with it (and abide by the salary cap of course). By going into the depth charts you can change who are the starters and benchers. There are also user profiles for you to save your own stats and keep track of your own game records and madden cards. There are a wide variety of teams to choose and edit from, weather it be all 33 regular NFL teams, or a variety of classic and European teams. And you can customize the game options and set the penalties, game length, rules, weather, etc. to your choosing and save them onto your memory card. But there are several different save files for Madden 2001, one for the settings, one for the created players and rosters, and another for user profiles, all combined, they take up approximately 2 megs of your 8 meg memory card.
For the single player, theres season and Franchise modes to keep you occupied for a great deal of time, plus with all the customization features and added Madden Cards, Im pretty sure youll be tinkering around trying to get all those and be familiar with them for many months to come. The computer AI, will give you a run for your money, and will be challenging on all types of game modes. Also with up to eight players to invite over, you can have a big party at your house with all your friends. But you do gotta take into consideration: Which major console football game has online play? Well, unfortunately, its only NFL 2K1 on the Dreamcast, and you can only dream when the console Madden games go online.
+: Stunning player visuals (minus the jaggies), Franchise mode, all new Madden Cards & NFL Coaches License
-: Slightly slow type of feel playing the game, some really off size proportioning, Repetitive Commentary
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 9.2
Replay Value: 8.3
Rounded to fit GameFAQs score: 8
Surprisingly, a good first Madden game on the PS2. The game play is the area where the game exceeds the most, and the graphics and sound usually never make or break a game, so if youre looking for a great NFL experience, then make sure to get your hands on this game now. Because its going fast.