EA Sports has not only managed to add enough features and gameplay tweaks to make Madden NFL 2004 a more than worthy purchase for those who bought last year’s game, but it has also created one of best football games to date–especially in the case of the PS2 version, which is the only console version featuring online play.
Madden NFL 2004 covers nearly every facet of professional football, but what makes this year’s entry in the series so special is the fact that it ties all its components together seamlessly. Even the new gameplay features have been integrated incredibly well, and the result is a game that models the sport of professional football much more intricately than any other game before it.
A perfect example of this is the playmaker control feature. While it initially seems like nothing more than a quick audible option, playmaker control is actually much more than that. Before the snap of the ball, if you do not like what you’re seeing on defensive side of the ball, you can adjust the offensive play to compensate without calling an audible. For example, if a linebacker appears to be blitzing on the side you’re about to run a halfback toss to, you can change the direction of the run on the fly by simply pressing the right analog stick in the opposite direction.
Similarly, after the QB says hike, you can direct teammates on the field to block opposing players in front of the ballcarrier by pressing the right analog stick in the appropriate direction. There is a little bit of risk involved in doing this, since its effectiveness depends on the speed of the teammate running over to block. In fact, when calling for a block in this fashion, you may be tempted to head for the teammate once you’ve told him to throw a block in an attempt to put him in between you and the defensive player more quickly. But you will quickly discover this rarely ever works and almost always results in an appreciable loss of yards. In any case, the playmaker controls for directing your blockers prove to be quite valuable when used in the correct situation.
Madden NFL 2004 is in stores now and a must-buy like 2003.