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Is It Really In The Game?
Past his prime, Jimmy finds a new way to enjoy playing football again without the annoying bumps, bruises and minor concussions.
This past week the United States was invaded. No, not by terrorists or a Communist regime, but by a machine that goes by the codename PS2. For those not of the geek variety, the PS2 is also known as Sony’s new Playstation2.
Up until now, Sega, Nintendo and Sony attempted to “one up” each other every few years by simply improving their systems’ graphics. Nintendo evolved into the N64, Sega evolved in to the Dreamcast and now we have the sequel to the Sony Playstation. This time however, Sony has gone above and beyond the call of duty. They improved not only the graphics, but developed a game system that leaves the competition in its wake.
Sony teamed up with the Toshiba Corporation with the intention of reinventing the first Playstation, spending over $2 billion in the process. The end result is a PS2 system that may very well become the heart of the home entertainment center. The PS2 not only plays games, but it doubles as a DVD player. That’s right, it plays movies. Additionally, sometime next year, Sony will launch the second phase of its PS2 strategy when it introduces an Internet portal. This will enable players from different locations to battle one another. How unbelievable would it be to call a friend two time zones away and challenge him to a game of Madden 2002? Let’s see the Dreamcast or N64 do that! Anyway, enough about the technical stuff. Let’s get to the real reason the PS2 is better than all the rest.
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This past weekend I rented the system and Ea Sports’ Madden 2001 to find out if this thing really is worth the $299 price tag. Friday night, I eagerly slid Madden into the console and fired the baby up. How good is it? I quit my job Monday morning.
EA Sports followed Sony’s lead and has taken its latest Madden game to another level. Madden 2001 was revamped in order to utilize the new capabilities PS2 brings to the table. As of right now, there is no other football game on the market that can touch Madden, not even Sega’s much-hyped NFL2K. Madden isn’t for kids anymore, either. Only adults will truly appreciate the beauty of this spectacular machine.
Starting with the field, no attention to detail has been omitted. A few of the new features include TV cameras on the sidelines, a public address announcer, players visibly standing on the sideline (who actually stand next to a heater to warm themselves during cold games), and the guys holding the first down chains. In fact, the chain holders drop their markers and move if the action comes anywhere close to them, just as they do in the real NFL. Leslie Visser even throws a little sideline reporting into the mix. Why couldn’t they get Melissa Stark? Oh, well, at least Visser was able to find work.
World League teams are also newly added to Madden — you know, the NFL castoffs who go to Europe to live out their professional football dreams. The St. Louis Rams can now prove their global dominance by destroying the best the WLAF has to offer. Or, if your a Bengal fan, your team now has a chance to win.
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Along those same lines, when they add the Texans to Madden 2003, hopefully those World League teams are still around for us to kick the crap out of. For now, you can choose to be the Houston Oilers of 1962, ’80, ’88 or ’92. There is also an All-Titan team consisting mainly of Oilers. You even have the option of selecting your Oiler uniform of choice. You can wear blue pants with white jerseys or even the throwback uniform from the AFL days, meaning it’s now possible to see what Eddie and Air McNair would have looked like playing the Super Bowl in Oiler garb.
Once you actually get into the game, noticeable differences between the new Madden and the Madden of the last millennium become apparent. While selecting the play you want to run, you can now focus on a “go to” guy. The plays you have to choose from will feature this player. If this “go to” play calling isn’t your style, you can ask the coach for his opinion on which play to call. He will verbally give you advice while highlighting the play he believes will be most successful. These are both options that were unavailable on prior Madden games and add greatly to the reality of play calling by featuring plays specifically designed for your star, or in a crunch, asking the coach for advice.
After breaking the huddle, new features have been implemented to simulate real NFL action. First of all, the crowd can be pumped up or calmed down by pressing a button. Imagine playing defense, your opponent facing fourth and goal from the one, and your linebacker raises his arms to send the crowd into a frenzy. How cool is that? They also cheer appropriately. If playing in Tennessee, the crowd chants, “Edd-ie, Edd-ie!” each time George touches to ball, and the New Yorkers yell, “J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!” in the Meadowlands.
Another new feature on offense is each eligible receiver can be sent in motion. No longer can your opponent figure out the play you are going to run by watching the same receiver go in motion every time. This enables you to keep your opponent guessing.
The same basic controls are still a part of Madden 2001, with a few new additions. Pressure sensitive buttons enable the offensive player to elude the defense with a slight juke or a quick slide to the outside. This takes some getting used to because the faster you’re running, the more difficult it is to juke the defender. It takes a change of speed and direction to break out into the open.
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On defense, pressure sensitive tackling allows you to dive in desperation to prevent those critical extra yards or crunch the ball carrier like a freight train. There’s some serious hitting going on in the trenches, and you get to hear it all. Sound effects have been improved to the point where you might as well be on the sideline at Lambeau Field.
By far the most spectacular new feature is the instant replay. In past Madden games, you’d quickly bypass any replays that were shown. Now, you look forward to them. Numerous camera angles are utilized to give the best look at spectacular plays. Close-up shots of the quarterback getting unloaded upon just as he lets the pass fly are the norm. It’s also now possible to observe the tight spiral of the pigskin while dancing through the air as your receiver dives toward the sideline, dragging his feet inbounds before hitting the turf. You can even challenge a referee’s call if they call an incompletion and you feel differently. The possibilities are endless and the PS2 makes it all possible.
Madden 2001 is by far the best football game on the market today. From the opening kickoff until the last whistle blows, this game is more real than any of Sony’s competition. Consider the bar raised, again. Now, you never have to leave the house. Unemployment will soon be on the rise.
Jimmy Mohr honed his Madden 2001 skills by publicly humiliating Ric Sweeney, leading the Redskins to a 30-point first half before Ric “accidentally” restarted the game.