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Developer EA Sports Options
Distributer Electronic Arts 1-2 Plyrs
Game Type Sports Simulation Mem. Card
Review Date November'97  
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Setting the Scene
The world has witnessed many changes over the last five years. The growth of the Internet, the birth of the 32 bit console bringing arcade quality games into the home, governments taking an interest in the environment (all be it through public pressure), a space station became derelict.... As we near the millennium some things never change. Famine still rages in third world countries, my salary is still crap and Madden release yet another NFL video game.

So once again one of the best selling sports titles last year has returned for yet another championship season. Madden '97 was indeed a tremendous hit providing hour upon hour of gameplay. Salary Cap, injuries, game ticker, laterals, commentary by Summerall/Madden, secret teams, great teams of the past, create-a-player, penalties, and every conceivable stadium were combined to make a game that you kept coming back to.

So one year on what does Madden '98 have to offer? Well Coach Madden has completely redesigned the offensive and defensive strategies to evolve with the ever changing NFL game, while players will now read and react to game situations, just like their on-field counterparts.

Madden NFL '98 is an American Football sim that comes with all of the licences on offer. Actual NFL teams, official logos, real players names and rosters. It originated on the Mega Drive in '92 and was translated to the SNES and the 3DO before finally reaching the Playstation in '96.

There are vast improvements in the visuals department as the game engine now delivers the graphics at a rapid frame rate. The players respond quickly and accurately to your every command allowing you to feel for the first time that you have total control over the events. The motion capture technique has been used to add realism to the ingame graphics while the legendary gameplay that has become the Madden trademark is even better with all-new animations and moves.

A dynamic 3D intro offers you a warm welcome and sets the scene perfectly. I find it amazing how far intro's have advanced over the last six months and can only speculate that the ingame graphics will reach this standard in the near future. Lets hope so.

Sounds and Effects
Broadcasting sees it's best ever team return with Madden providing commentary and Summerall play-by-play. They once again combine their talents to offer in-depth analysis on play and statistics for all of the action, as it happens.

The sound effects are excellent as the thunderous roar of the blood hungry crowd creates a pulsating atmosphere while the bone shattering collisions send a tingle up your spine.

If you are new to the Madden series then prepare to take a few hours out to study the accompanying 30 page manual as there are an unbelievable 26 offensive, 12 defensive and six kicking control pad actions and that does not include the use of the directional pad. If the sport of American football confuses you then I am afraid you will also require a crash course on the complex tactics which become a fundamental part of the gameplay. To the novice, a pick up and play game this is definitely not.

Once again Madden serves up the chance to play a one off Exhibition game between any two teams from the NFL.
The Season option takes you to the start of a new NFL Season which is based on the '97/98 schedule. At the end of a season the playoffs begin, starting with Wildcard games, Division playoffs, Conference Championships and finally the Super Bowl.
Tournament mode involves an 8 to 16 team elimination contest where each player selects an NFL team and the CPU will randomly perform a cup draw.
The all new Fantasy Draft combines the strategy of a fantasy football league with the action of Madden football. Here you may select your dream team then take them off to play in a Round Robin Tournament.
Enter the Front Office to wheel and deal Madden style. Here the players can be traded, signed, released, drafted or even created.

The options go on and on as every single aspect of the sport may be tinkered with. Weather settings, quarter length, skill level, injuries, fatigue etc. etc. In fact I have never felt so relieved to reach a games starting point as I was with Madden. Even then you are faced with heads or tails, kick or receive and which end to defend.

Finally we have kick off. Virtually every single football move imaginable is included, from throwing the ball to kicking a field goal. The run of play is clearly represented highlighting the position of quarterback, wide receivers and running backs. While offensive moves are being selected the defending player chooses a counter attack from blitzing the scrimmage line to positioning linebacks.

When play begins the offensive player controls the quarterback while the defense selects a player from the line. Once the quarterback receives the ball he must quickly decide whether to rush forward and gain a few yards or throw the ball to the wide receivers. Charging forward will require a sharp eye to spot an opening created by your team mates. If one appears you can hurdle and jump over the grappling bodies before diving for those extra few yards. Throwing the ball automatically switches control to the wide receivers who must be positioned to catch the ball, taking care to avoid the swarm of advancing defenders.

The realism becomes apparent when a variety of fouls are committed such as holding an opponents headguard and dragging them down. Injuries, if switched on, play an important part to the outcome of the game although substitutions are controlled by the computer. Perseverance is rewarded by the inevitable touchdown which sends the crowd ballistic and the players into their personal scoring routines.

Value for Money
Madden '98 continues the tradition of providing the player with the most comprehensive and in-depth American football game on the PSX. It is visually sophisticated, extremely realistic, immensely playable and is a must buy for those who love the sport. Those who believe Gridiron is an engineering term should try before you buy.

GRAPHICS: Good Once you become comfortable with this game the rewards are enormous. Madden '98 has such depth, variety and longevity that once you load it up you never want to switch it off. The intro of a quality we have come to expect on the Playstation while the ingame graphics are acceptable and do not deter from the smooth flow of the action.

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