Madden NFL 2004 – PC – Preview

E3 2003 – First


The number one
video game football franchise, EA’s Madden series, looks to stay on top with its
latest incarnation, Madden 2004.  Madden’s gameplay is so solid, developers at
Tiburon Studios saw little need to alter it.  Instead, the team at the studios
in Florida emphasized adding to the experience of the game by overhauling the
on-line options and customization of the game, a theme practiced by all the
latest editions of the EA sports titles. 


Although the only
home console to feature on-line options is the Playstation 2, EA has added
several features for on-line play.  The most noticeable is clearly the addition
of live chat.  Now players from across the country can let their opponents know
about that 10-yard sack they just delivered or the five tackles broken en route
to an easy six.  In addition to the chat, EA will host on-line tournaments for
those of us who missed the Madden challenge.


The biggest
addition to gameplay this year is Playmaker Control.  We’ve all had the problem
of trying to reverse the direction of a sweep when the defense is stacked
towards the intended route of the running back.  Last year, QB’s could call
audibles to reverse the direction away from the defense, but the defense would
recognize this and shift their defense as well.  Playmaker control allows an
instant reversal of the called run without alerting the defense of the audible
or altering the offensive set-up.  The quarterback will lightly perform a hip
slap, and the play direction will be reversed.  Playmaker control can also be
used on receivers to alter their routes during their patterns.  For example, if
you notice Jerry Rice has a blazing defensive back on him and you’ve run him in
a fly route (a streak), you can rely on Jerry’s quickness and tell him to run a
post instead.  Playmaker control also allows quarterbacks to tell receivers to
go to holes in a zone defense, but this option looked a bit clunky. 


The franchise mode
has been expanded and now includes an owner mode.  Owner mode yields the deepest
franchise mode to date in any game.  As an owner, gamers will have complete
control of the behind-the-scenes operations such as ticket, concession, and
parking prices, as well as team name and possible relocations.  If fan
attendance is down and you’ve got some cash stacked away, you can even build a
new stadium.  Developer Kevin Johnson predicts “several million possible
combinations” in stadium design based on the location of luxury boxes, stairs,
logo placement and other stadium features.  Maybe LA can finally get their own
football franchise.


Madden 2004 is
slated for an August 2004 release, just in time for the gridiron season.