Replay Value: 9.5
Ever since the golden days of Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis the Madden series was the pinnacle of football videogames, back then EA Sports used to publish games for Sega as well, gamers who wanted to experience the Madden series didn't have to buy another console, but anyways... Time had came for next-generation consoles such as Playstation and Nintendo 64 to be released and that meant that it was time to switch development kits. EA quickly went to work on a new Madden game for Playstation, but to their surprise Sony had something up their sleeves with their new GameDay franchise. As both games were released sadly EA's triumph was over and Sony had stolen the glory, two more GameDay's and Madden's past until the '99 titles arrived, surprisingly the Madden series overcame the GameDay series and this is where EA Sports stole the glory that they with no doubt deserved. Madden '99 beat out GameDay in almost every field, the visuals, commentary, AI, and most of all realism. Sony was still confident and their GameDay game was selling reasonably well. Last year 989 Studios/Sony and EA Sports rivaled once again and the clear winner was yet again Madden, could this be it for Sony, have they given up? Well another year goes by another Madden arrives, read Madden NFL 2001 review and check out the GameDay 2001 review tomorrow.
We've all seen the exceptionally wonderful screenshots of Madden 2001 on PS2 and we all got a bit teary eyed because of the sheer fineness in them. I was a bit bummed out when I had to play Madden 2001 only because I've been looking at too many PS2 screens, surprisingly the PS visuals of Madden look incredibly fluid and delicately designed. For starters the stadium's audience is very detailed and is basically made out of different colored pixels, on the other hand the grass and turf looks incredibly bright and vivid. The lines are accurately drawn on the surface and everything is nicely represented. The main concentration in the game seems to be its great player models, last years Madden had great player models but I don't think they were quite as good as these in Madden 2001. The model detail is extensive, they may not be NFL 2K on Dreamcast but they surely hold their own ground among being the best football visuals on the Playstation. The player bodies are structured carefully with unique looking bodies designed for most of the characters, the arms, legs and other body features look smoothly designed with the instance of some very minor polygonal clipping. What I like even more about about the graphics is that the character animation is so fluid, EA Sports has done a great job of motion capturing moves, hurdles, fumbles, passes and most of all the celebrations. While it may not sport the luxurious styling of the PS2 version, Madden NFL 2001's visuals do not disappoint at all.
What's a sports game if the gameplay is not accurately portrayed so it can be comparable to the real-thing? The answer to that is simple and that would be a poorly designed sports game, duh! Thankfully Madden is just the complete opposite of that, the football experience is magnificently re-created with the wonderful motion-capturing and the great looking tackles. Just like all the other Madden games out there, 2001 has a very extensive playbook that has almost every single play for a corresponding team. Among the great playbook also comes very smart AI for a much better challenge, if you thought that last year Madden was promising you haven't seen nothing yet. This year Madden returns with a bang, all the same modes have made it back such as the Exhibition, Season, along with the Madden Challenge, Practice and a few others. Madden is also a fantastic multi-player game for those Friday nights with the boys. Basically nothing really has substantially changed between the previous Madden and this one, the AI has been tweaked, a few extra tidbits were added, but still this is one extraordinary football game, a must have.
EA's famous commentary has surprisingly faded away from the Madden series. It isn't bad it's just compared to FIFA 2000 and Triple Play 2001, it isn't great. The sound quality really sounds like a live televised game that you would normally see on ABC or ESPN. The commentary is mostly play-by-play and features commentators James Brown and John Madden himself. The play-by-plays are mostly just "he passes it to ____ and ____ intercepts it" that will follow with a "that was a great play" or something in that fashion. The commentary isn't as deep as FIFA 2000's or better yet Triple Play 2001's, both games have magnificent commentary that continously keep the action enjoyable and most of all realistic. Oh and too bad that Dennis Miller had no part in the game, it would have been great. Oh well there is always Playstation 2. Now I have a gripe with the game's soundtrack, I listen to everything, club music, reggae, rock and rap. So when I heard that Madden 2001 will have a rap soundtrack I was pretty anxious to see how it would come out. Unfortunately the beats aren't really what I'm used to, the lyrics sound un-inspired and feel like the rappers put very little time into them. The sound effects such as tackles sound pretty good, but why is there no touchdown music like in GameDay? I think that, that is an important feature in a football game, how can you rub in a great touchdown to your friends face with no song to sing along to and dance? The sound is good but nothing impressive.
Controlling the game is the same as it was last year, you have the ability to make your passing default, analog or digital, meaning that you can either use the buttons to pass or push your analog stick toward a receiver and throw it there. Most of the buttons are the same, and navigating the menus is pretty simple and easy. The Dual Shock and analog are both supported and supported nicely too.
The only thing I can complain about in Madden is the sound, it may not be bad but the commentary isn't the greatest and the un-inspired rap styling won't get your attention. The visuals are polygon pushers, the limited crowd makes up for the incredible character animations and fluid gameplay. The gameplay is a bit more technologically enhanced, the AI has been tweaked for more challenge and did I mention that you can view replays on the fly after a play by pressing L2. Overall great menus hammered a bit by the rap music, though the in-game presentation is awesome and so are the visuals. A must have for any sports fan.