Madden NFL 2001 Review
The most popular videogaming football series has made its way to the Playstation 2. Madden will forever be known as the best running series on the Genesis, Super Nintendo, the Playstation, Nintendo 64 and now Playstation 2. With EA's unintended will towards not developing for the Sega Dreamcast, the company will currently set itself as a publisher solely for the Playstation 2 in the time being. Bringing over franchises such as NHL, Triple Play, FIFA, NBA Live and of course Madden NFL, EA Sports will be hitting it big on the PS2 and will most likely remain the console's most devoted publisher/developer. To date the Playstation Madden NFL games have remained the best selling NFL titles ever that is including Sega's own NFL 2K games. Until the release of the PS2, Madden 2001 for Playstation held the number two spot, behind Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, and beating Sega's NFL 2K1. Now this seems to be the talk of the town, which game is better, Madden NFL 2001 or NFL 2K1? Both games are incredibly good but only one has to survive right? So which one is it? Read and find out.
When EA Sports revealed Madden 2001 at E3 earlier this May, gamers and critics praised Madden 2001 as the best looking Playstation 2 game in development. The game was partially complete and EA had already got it running at great frames and pushing some marvelous looking polygon models. As the months went by more and more screens and videos surfaced on Madden 2001, the gaming industry and gamers were shocked in awe of the raw power that the game possessed. Comparing Madden to NFL 2K1's visuals isn't too hard to do, out of all honesty Madden is the clear winner and any "un-biased" Sega fan will agree with me here. First off let's get to little tidbits and move on to bigger ones. Madden has many different skin tone colors for every different athlete, while NFL 2K1 has some, but not many to keep all of the players distinguished from one another. The faces in NFL 2K1 aren't as detailed as those found in Madden. Madden 2001 has some of the most incredible facial expressions seen in any videogame yet, athletes would put on their "game faces" and even blink when they have to, on top of all that even there pupils move around. Then we have something that can be considered insignificant, but something that has NEVER been done in a football gamer before. It sounds to good to be true and believe it or not, but some football players actually have hair on their arms just like any another man would, the detail may be hard to notice but if you take a good look at an up-close shot of an athlete you may notice some strands of hair, how is that for detail? Here is another feature not included in sports games before, a sideline cam that shows the reaction of your team's bench and coach after a touchdown or a penalty call. It brings out much more detail and freshness to a series that almost feels like a newborn again. Now let's continue to more technical issues.
The anti-aliasing wasn't done for the game, not because EA didn't have time, but because they wanted to maintain a healthy and charging frame rate so the action doesn't skip and feel like you are playing the game on a 33.3 modem online. If you discard the aliasing (which is hardly noticeable) what you will find is the best looking football game on the market, not even NFL 2K1 can come close to what Madden has to offer, and NFL 2K1 wasn't anti-aliased either, so go save your mail for somebody else. The athletic models are sculpted out of as many polygons as every single on-screen football player combined in Madden 2001 for PSOne, that would round off to about 1,100 polygons per athlete and maybe even more. Think of it this way, an athlete's head in Madden PS2 is constructed of about as many polygons as three football players from Madden PSOne, impressive huh? To accompany the near perfect player detail, comes the amazingly realistic player proportions that define a real life athletes measurements and replicate them in the game, what's more is that the motion-capturing has been drastically improved and now the athletes move much more responsive, realistic and quicker than they ever did before. No wait, I'm not done yet, last thing and then we go to gameplay! I forgot to mention that the collision detection is also more accurate and precise than that one found in NFL 2K1. NFL 2K1's detection was fair, but when you look at a self-controlled replay of a fumble you'll notice that the football escaped the players arms way before an opponent made contact with you, and sometimes would travel right through the back of players body, that ticked me off a lot. With all of these new perks, glitz, glamour, finesse, and "wow" factor in the visuals, does the gameplay stack up or is it ridiculed by the visuals?
How can I even ask a stupid question like that, of course the gameplay stacks up, after all this is an EA project. For starters the signature Madden gameplay has remained but has been so refined that you would swear you were playing a whole new series. The overall presentation is smooth, player movements are incredibly sleek, with that running plays and running in general can be done a lot more efficient and easier this time around. Comparatively looking at NFL 2K1 and Madden 2001, both games are played differently. For one when picking a play in NFL 2K1, your opponent will be able to match your play, because your play will be highlighted for him to see, that would take lot of fun out of the game of football and completely destroy the purpose of a huddle. In Madden 2001 the same technique was is used for picking your play, from the previous Maddens. Now I remember checking out Madden at E3, I spotted a Tight-end slacking off after a hike, that meant that the AI wasn't as smart as it was supposed to be, but with time EA Sports solved that problem and made this the most challenging football game thus far on any console. While on the topic of challenge the Madden Challenge has returned to Madden 2001, for those who are unfamiliar with this new addition, let me explain. If The Madden Challenge is turned ON while you are playing, and you complete a certain task such as 'sacking the QB twice with the same athlete', you will be awarded prizes and other goodies in general. Basically the Madden Challenge is something to keep the longevity of the game going.
Of course the original modes such as Exhibition, Season and Playoffs return, and thankfully they don't steal much space from your 8MB memory card. Madden 2001 only takes about 123 KB for options and 320 for a season, which is more than fare. Now I noticed one weird aspect when the football is being hit for a field goal, when the ball is snapped to the holder, before the holder sets the ball on the ground with his fingertip, the kicker already kicks the ball to the goal area for a point, this isn't noticeable when playing but it stands out when viewing it through a replay. Madden Card mode is also made a return to accompany Madden Challenge, after completing a challenge you are awarded tokens, those tokens can be used towards Madden Cards, which in essence are virtual reality football cards that be either bought or traded. These cards are full of stats on the back such as height, weight and averages, a pretty neat little addition. Of course like any other sports game, you can create your very own player, where you can edit anything from, age, college attended, team, position, jersey number and years pro, After you're done creating your guy, you will then be set to sets his stats, now the higher the stats the more cash your team has to pay for him, so keep that in mind. The Rosters option lets you pretty much do what you think you can do in it, trade, release, free agent, purchase whatever you want it's here. Madden NFL 2001 is everything that I wished for it to be, the gameplay is super quick and the responsive and tight controls make pulling of plays as if it was the real thing.
Sadly the cheesy rap song from Madden 2001 for PSOne has returned as the opening theme for the game to the same video from the PSOne version and the menu music just doesn't cut it for me, the lyrics sound as if they were created on the spot and don't fit at all. Although the songs are lacking, the commentary is near perfection, with the exception of Madden's wise cracks and one liners. But other than that the commentary flows fluidly and doesn't skip a play. Both play-by-play and color commentary is included, which is a pretty big plus, the way that EA is going with their commentary, in the next few days we may very well be hearing commentary so real that you'd swear you were watching a televised event. Overall, great sound quality and fluid commentary, but the rap songs really need to go.
Oh wow, did I get a bang out of the controls. The precise movements make it so much more comfortable to pull off running plays that it leaves other games in the dust. Using the analog and viewing your runner, you will notice that EA Sports has really struck gold with the accurate movements, thanks to the more advanced motion-capturing techniques that they now use. The controls for passing and running plays have remained the same, except stiff arms are now sensitive to how hard you press the L1 and R1 buttons, big points for that one. The Dual Shock has a lot of great power to it and every tackle can be felt with full force. In the end, the controls are marvelous and if it wasn't for them, this game wouldn't have been as great as it is.
Being my very first US PS2 reviewed game, I can safely say that Madden NFL 2001 is probably the #2 game to own with your Playstation 2. The graphics that look as real as the real thing itself, the gameplay actually feels like the real thing and nothing like previous Madden games, which are based on a slower pace, and the tight controls make the game as real as it is. It would be easy to say that Madden NFL 2001 is the best of the series, because it isn't competing with much, but I know what you all want to hear and here it is; Madden NFL 2001 is indeed better than Sega's NFL 2K1 in nearly every single way, the game offers much better gameplay, better collision physics, AI, graphics, more options, and a deeper game overall to make Madden NFL 2001 the best football game ever. Those who are waiting for GameDay 2001 may not want to do that, the game isn't looking that well and is nearly complete so Sony will most likely not make any touch ups to the game, Madden has been said to be better every way as well.
10/26/2000 Arnold Katayev