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Review by: Craig Miller
Published: November 1, 1998
The EA Sports franchise has become a part of everyday life. It can be seen in movies and television series and it’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of the name. This is due mainly to the high quality of product EA produced in the early days. They were always pioneers in graphics, and to some extent, in gameplay. Over the years the product lost a little bit of its luster due to competition and a lack of innovation. I don’t know about the other products in the EA stable, but I can tell you that Madden is back! You will be hard pressed to find a better football game this year.
Madden 99 has all of what made the series a classic in the past and some new things that will keep it in the class of elite sports titles. The standard things that everyone has come to expect are in the game. You can play an exhibition, pre-season or league game. Madden gives the player the option of playing with his/her favorite team or drafting from scratch in order to build your own power-house team from the current pool of NFL players.
New to this version is an arcade mode and a one-button mode for beginners. The arcade mode is an attempt at mimicking the kind of gameplay found in NFL Blitz or similar games.
This is not the real strength of Madden 99, and while fun for those who aren’t hardcore football fans, it doesn’t satisfy the Lombardi buried deep within us football fanatics. The one-player mode is a nice introduction to the Madden series for the newbie, although I can’t imagine that many people who haven’t been exposed to one version of Madden or the other. At any rate, it is a good handicapping device and allowed me to play against my girlfriend and give her half a chance (I still beat her though!).
Two important new additions to the game in terms of league play are franchise mode and team-specific play books. Franchise mode allows the player to play a number of seasons strung together, drafting new players each year and trading or releasing veterans as needed. This feature makes the game playable for a long, long time. The addition of team-specific playbooks adds a higher sense of realism in terms of mimicking a specific team’s tendencies. However, the playbooks are not unique. What this adds to the game in realism, it takes away in being able to play any style you want to play. There is a play creation feature, but you shouldn’t have to make up the entire playbook just in order to be more flexible with your offense and defense.
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