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Madden 2003 Package Art
 GENRE
  Sports
 DEVELOPER
  Tiburon
 PUBLISHER
  EA Sports
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-2
 CONNECTIVITY
  yes
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Madden 2003

The king is back. I gave this game a 9.8 last year and I have to elevate this year’s score to a 9.9. Once that computer AI loses the famous third down “touchdown” strike then I’ll call this game perfect.

EA Sports has upped everything in this installment. The animations, the AI is wicked, the complaint I had about the D Zone coach’s cam has been fixed, and even the velvet voice of Al Michaels has been added. I’m thoroughly impressed and adamant when I say that this game is definitely a lot better than its predecessor. Despite some of the scores that you’ve been hearing, Madden 2003 is like its poster boy Marshall Faulk, without peer and still the best.

visuals

This year’s graphics boasts smoother animations, FIFA-esque stadiums with nicely animating crowds, gang tackles and some of the best-damned running animations ever. While the players are still a bit stiff and sometimes slow, this game’s visuals are outstanding and the slowdown that was in last year’s game is all but gone. If there’s one game where clipping and collision detection is paramount it’s in football. Imagine a poor collision detection causing a touchdown, how annoying would that be. EA's mastery of collision detection blows Sega out of the water in this department.

Menus are easy to navigate and play calling has never been easier. The BIGGEST improvement is that the defensive assignments are now included in the C-stick “coach cam” option. This was a major gripe I had last year and it’s excellent to see it in here. You can now see what zone your CB has to cover or who your linebacker is responsible for. Very, very nice. This even applies to special teams as you can now see what lanes your gunners will cover.

Excellent work.

audio

The biggest difference is that Pat Summerall and his drooling meanderings have been removed from the game and replaced with the smoothest damned voice in broadcasting history: Al Michaels. What a difference this makes. Now if they could only coach Madden himself to get into Al’s incredible range. Madden is tolerable but is still a tad on the annoying side. Although, it is fun every once in a while to hear a "Turgubblet"-esque commentary!

Melissa Stark adds some commentary but to me it really does sound as if she’s reading off a cue card in a studio, very forced. Whereas Al Michaels sounds as if he’s at the game and his comments are all right on the ball-play for play.

All of the sounds effects of the game itself are here. The audioscape is a huge part to the immersion of Madden, and this year it’s been kicked up a notch.

gameplay

First a little hint for all the Dojo Disciples out there. Don’t forget to hold down that Z trigger when you’re running passing routes likes inside slants and outs kids. That’ll help out your completion rating! This one is very important to remember. Of course, you zip the ball by holding the desired button and flop it by tapping the same button.

This year’s AI has been improved, and it shows on the field. There’s an excellent balance between passing/running and defence/offence. This is definitely one of the best single player football experiences I’ve ever had. The only gripe I have is that, like last year’s game, the computer’s third down always seems to be a bit TOO successful.

This is definitely what separates Madden from other football games, and all other sports titles out there for that matter. Like ISS64, you have to take the time to master the control mechanics here because Madden is very much worth it. The rewards for mastering play control is a truely wicked NFL experience.

multiplayer

Playing this game against a buddy is amazing. It’s more fun than the single player game by far. Picture this: My buddy and I had a series of 3 going, and it’s the third game. I wasn’t doing so well due to some horrible turnovers on my part, and voila! The two-minute drill came into effect big time. Without online capabilities though, you have to wonder why EA sports didn’t give us a four-player mode…

overall

Forget the incumbents, this game dominates like Bonds on steroids. Marshall Faulk is the perfect cover spokesperson for this instalment as he embodies what 2003 is for Madden: steady, reliable, accurate, excellent, abnormally good… need I go on?

This year's instalment is the King. Bar none. Buy it.

final score 9.9/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Eric Mattei
Staff Profile | Email
"Lost like tears in rain"


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