Picture the whiteboard in the Madden PS2 Development Team War Room circa 2003. It probably read something like this: “2004, lots of defense… 2005, make online complete… 2006, move most of dev team to next gen… 2007, move rest of team to next gen…2008, no one will be buying the PS2 anymore.” Lo and behold, lots of us are still purchasing and using Sony’s unstoppable warhorse. Unfortunately, it appears that EA’s long term plans have remained as stated on that whiteboard five years ago, as Madden 09 on the PS2 feels like a red-headed stepchild in a next-generation family.
If you were to examine Madden 09 in a vacuum, it would come up smelling like a rose. Between its perfectly refined on-field action, engaging franchise mode, full-fledged online capabilities, and alternate game types like Superstar and Fantasy Challenge, it’s chock full of more pigskin pleasure than most of us could hope to get to in a given year. Most aspects of the game is refined to a high degree, “spoiled” only by a handful of glitches and assorted hiccups that even the best sports titles will have.
However, my friends, you do not live in a vacuum. Chances are if you’re reading this review, you’re already the proud owner of Madden 08, 07, and plenty of other EA gridiron titles. If that’s the case – and you don’t have an Xbox 360 or PS3 in the house – then consider yourself warned. Madden 09 is a great football game that you’ve already been playing for a few years now. Whether or not you’re willing to fork over $40 for the ability to update some rosters, listen to the same commentary, and see many-times-over recycled pre- and post-game animations is entirely a subjective decision.
At least EA does include a new Family Play option, in a nod to the “let’s get more people to the Madden table” mantra that the Wii version executes so well. This streamlines the gameplay to make it much easier for newbies to have a good time without learning the intricacies of hot routes and audibles. It’s a nice addition for sure (considering how hyper-complicated football has gotten), but hardly a reason for returning fans to get excited.
We’ll skip the tired clichés and just put it out there – Madden 09 is a solid football title that you probably don’t need to play. Make some roster adjustments to 08 (or even 07) or, better yet, make the move to next-gen consoles and start soaking in some big-time NFL atmosphere. Your $40 will thank you.
Aug 14, 2008