For the 20th Anniversary of Madden NFL Football, EA decided to celebrate in style by producing a game that only has little problems rather than huge ones. Unlike years past where the features list was light or the gameplay was flawed, Madden 09’s issues are smaller and more nitpicky. And, yes, that is a compliment. Madden 09 looks phenomenal, plays extremely well, and packs plenty of features to keep fans happy. Find out all of the details in our full review.
- Title: Madden NFL 09
- Platform: Xbox 360
- Publisher: EA
- Developer: EA Tiburon
- ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
- Genre: Football
- Pros: Nice graphics; solid gameplay; commentary
- Cons: Madden IQ; no A.I. sliders; futurobotic presentation; supersim funkiness
Rather than breaking down all of the features and the gameplay and all of that jazz, we’re just going to cut to the chase and give you the good and the bad and leave it at that.
First up, the good. The gameplay is as solid as it has ever been in the series and it plays more realistically than ever. The constant fumbling that ruined last year’s game does not seem to be present here. Now you can actually run the ball against a human opponent and not fumble it every other down. The wealth of options and audibles and adjustments you have for both offense and defense before the snap made the transition from NCAA 09 and find quite a comfy home in Madden. It really makes you feel like a field general rather than just being along for the ride.
The graphics are also easily the best we have seen so far with the weather and lighting effects in particular looking very good. The game looks remarkably different when playing in the rain or snow or at night or in a dome versus a sunny day. That is something that was present in previous games, but not nearly to this extent.
The sound is also greatly improved. John Madden makes his return to do a little pregame, halftime, and post game analysis. The “radio guy” commentary is (thankfully) long gone and has been replaced with Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth, which means that for the first time on the next-gen systems, Madden has real commentary.
It isn’t all good for Madden 09, however. But like I said, it is mostly little problems rather than big things. When you start the game, you can play through the Madden IQ test that will then alter the A.I. to match your skill level. The only problem is that it doesn’t work. The tests have you running plays on a holographic field, and they are incredibly easy to pass. When you have a high Madden IQ, however, it makes the A.I. brutally difficult to the point where it isn’t even fair. You can’t run the ball and you only have a split second to make a pass. Not fun. Thankfully, you can ignore the Madden IQ and just set the difficulty yourself. It also should be noted that there are a handful of sliders, but they only affect you and not the A.I. For gamers that like to tweak the game to their liking, it is disappointing.
Another issue comes in the super sim mode. Unlike in NCAA 09 which had a logo of the team with the ball pop up, there is no indication of who actually has the ball during supersim. Which means you can sim too far and not stop where you wanted. Another issue comes with the achievements. You can’t switch between playing and simming. You either have to sim a whole game or play a whole game or the achievements won’t count.
My final issue is more of a personal complaint, but the menus have been all Fox Sports’d out and given a futuristic, robotic, metallic, cold look. Also, not a complaint but a comment, Brett Favre looks very surprised on the start screen. Like a “Holy crap, why did I retire”-type of surprise. We all know how that story ends.
All in all, Madden 09 is pretty easy to recommend as the best Madden on the Xbox 360, but it isn’t without its problems. Nothing serious like the broken everything in 06, the lack of modes in 07, or the gameplay issues in 08, but there are a lot of little issue that can stack up and annoy you. With that said, Madden 09 looks completely gorgeous and plays very well and is crammed full of modes that will keep you playing for months both online and off.