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Madden NFL 2003
Scheduled release date: August 2002
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Sports
Genre: Sports
Number Of Players: 1-8 (Online - 16)

  Madden NFL has always been EA’s pinnacle sports title, and every year they find some way to improve on the renowned series. Boasting online hookups this time around, Madden 2003 may just be the best the series has ever seen.

   At a glance, Madden 2003 looks quite similar to last year’s; however, EA has made some improvements here and there. For starters, fingers will now be animated and actually interact with the action, so passes -- and especially replays -- now look more accurate, as players will use their fingers when catching passes. Their fingers will also move around during celebrations. Furthermore, the grasses and turfs of the various fields have received improvements, making their textures more sharp. Roughly 300 different player faces will also be in ‘03 to help expand the variation and lessen the monotony.

   The Franchise mode has been improved even more so in this year’s outing. Now players can opt to play with their Franchise team during regular exhibition games, whether it be against your friend or a computer-controlled opponent. Pre-season will also be a lot more critical to your franchise now, as you can scout rookies and other future stars. Of course, this aspect of the game requires scouting points, so operate conservatively.

   In addition to the massive Franchise mode, you can also participate in numerous mini-games and the such. In Mini-camp, you’ll venture across the United States, stopping in various football-team cities -- Dallas, Detroit, Denver. The game of football is very multi-faceted, and each city you stop at will focus on one particular aspect of the game of football.

   For instance, once you stop at Denver, you’ll be given a passing drill with Brian Griese as your operating man. Passing to the numerous receivers on the field isn’t such a hard task. Couple that with the fact that you have to throw the ball through small hoops before it can reach the receiver, though, and you’ll then have an arduous, yet addicting, objective. There are a plethora of other drills, too, working on both offensive and defensive skills. Soon enough, the whole game will be your forte.

   The aural side of the Madden series has always been its biggest downfall. EA knows this too, which is why they’ve spent a rather long time augmenting this aspect. With Madden and Michaels bringing you the action from above, Electronic Arts promises a better overall color-commentary. All to often, the announcers will just simply spit out short, redundant phrases when keyed in by a specific play or action, although the team of Madden and Michaels won’t do anything of the like. Not only will they talk about various statistics and plays that have transpired, they’ll also present the whole game in an organized, humorous way.

   The online features are right on track thus far and have yet to show any major glitches or anything to impede play. In addition to just playing, players can also talk to each other -- whether it be trash talk or just conversation -- via a chat box. Easily EA’s most prized Franchise, Madden is shaping up just fine for you football maniacs. Fans of the series should have a lot to look forward to come mid-August, when Madden 2003’s released.


6/15/2002   Joseph Comunale