Like the Niners in the 80’s.
The Madden series has just dominated the football game market. The only
game to even challenge was Gameday, though last year was hardly a contest.
Once again, football season is right around the corner, which means it’s time
for the console football game wars. First up is John Madden’s Madden NFL 2000,
and it looks pretty tough to beat.
All the usual modes of play are available, including Exhibition, Season, Custom
Season, Tournament (complete with a fantasy draft), Practice, and Franchise.
The newest addition to the list is the “Situation” mode. This allows you to
play in one of 10 classic games, entering in at the most critical moments. The
goal is to win the game, and perhaps rewrite history along the way, of course.
Users can even set up their own situations, which is very cool.
Madden 2000‘s Franchise
mode has a few new features to it. One of them is the NFL Draft Preview, where
you can view the players in the upcoming draft. This is important because you
now can trade any of the four draft picks with other teams. Did you find a player
you need, but are too low in the draft to pick him? Not a problem…just trade
Another new addition is the Madden Challenge. In this mode, you can receive
up to 2,000 points for fulfilling 100 pre-determined goals and correctly answering
200 trivia questions during gameplay. For example, if you complete a pass for
more than 30 yards, Madden Challenge bonus points are awarded. You can receive
a different amount of points in a number of different categories. The points
vary by difficulty level.
Speaking of the difficulty levels, you can now adjust each facet of the game individually (in addition to the standard difficulty level options). It is left up to you to decide just how strong the defense should be.
This customizability extends even further. Both the offensive and defensive
AI can be adjusted for running and passing, so finding the right balance is
easy. There are also settings for how often the CPU will run vs. pass, and how
aggressive the play calling will be. EA really lets you build the game to suit
As far as the rosters go, players can be traded, created, edited, released,
and drafted. In the Franchise mode, you are able to see the length of the contract
left for players, and give them contract extensions if you wish. For those gamers
who own NCAA Football 2000, players can be even drafted from that game
into Madden 2000. EA wants to keep it in the family, it seems.
Gameplay in Madden 2000 is very similar to Madden
’99. New to 2000, however, are route-based passing and hot routes.
Route-based passing lets the QB throw the ball before a receiver has made his
cut. By holding down L2 while throwing, the QB will lead the receiver to where
he should be based on the route he has been assigned. Hot routes are basically
audibles for individual receivers. Before the snap, you can alter any receiver’s
route with a couple of button presses. The running game has been improved as
well. Unlike last year, it is now possible to run the ball and actually gain
The graphics have been updated
as well, with new player models that actually correspond to the real-life counterparts.
This means that the big, bulky blockers are actually big and bulky, wheras the
small, lithe receievers are thin and nimble. There are quite a few new animations
this year, like helmets popping off from hard hits. The motions are smooth and
the action is fast.
One new feature in Madden 2000 is the ‘coach cam’ option that lets
the user see the player assignments before the snap. While this is a nice feature
on paper, EA Sports didn’t quite implement it right. If this option is turned
on, you can see the CPU assignments as well as your own. The same can be said
of the play name switch. When turned on, you not only know what play you called,
but what the other team did as well. I doubt this is what EA Sports had in mind
when they included this option, but it renders the option a bit pointless.
The crowds are relatively intelligent, cheering and booing at the right times.
On big plays, they can get really loud. You can also try and pump them up if
you’re the home team and playing defense. The R2 button will cause your defender
to raise his arms, which livens up the crowd. On offense, the same button will
make your quarterback plead for silence. Back doing play-by-play is Pat Summerall,
and of course, John handles all the commentary with his unique blend of insight
Overall, Madden NFL 2000 is an excellent game. The improved Franchise
mode, awesome customizability and new passing features make this a worthy upgrade
to Madden ’99. I really thought it would be hard to improve on last year’s
title, but EA Sports has done it.