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Madden NFL 09

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Written by DM on Friday, August 22 2008

Madden NFL 09 marks the 20th anniversary of the Madden franchise. Ever since EA sports shocked the videogame world by announcing it had made an exclusive deal with the NFL for the rights to the players, their likenesses, and everything else official that makes up the league, videogame football fans have been divided into two camps -- those who hate EA, and those who love Madden.

Before we go any further, for those of you who do not know, I am (or I should say was) a diehard 2K Sports fan. Even so, every year I would purchase and play Madden NFL in the hopes that it would come close enough to the 2K series to satisfy me. I am happy to report that after 20 years Madden NFL has finally done it right, and I am enjoying the game enough to keep and play it.

EA has always been the master of presentation, there is no question about that. With their soundtracks straight from the current top 40 list, and their flashy animated menus, EA sports games have always been a visual feast. The problem is, most years the gameplay, the actual important part of the title, left a lot to be desired. Well, it seems that finally even EA themselves realized this, and started revamping the actual game mechanics of their sports lines. Madden NFL 09 is direct proof of this, as in this 20th anniversary franchise release, the gameplay, while not perfect, is better than it has been in years.

The first thing you will be greeted with when you boot up Madden NFL 09 is the new Madden IQ Test. In this "Tron"-esque gridiron environment, you play through four drills -- two offensive drills, and two defensive drills. Your success after a number of plays determines your initial "My Skill" level. The game uses this skill level to determine the level of difficulty the computer AI performs at during all the single player game modes. Madden NFL 09 will even readjust the skill setting after every completed game, thus making sure you never have too easy of a time beating the computer. The best part about the Madden IQ feature, believe it or not, is that it actually works, and works well. For someone like me who does not know a great deal about football, to be able to have the game automatically adjust to my skill level is invaluable. If for some reason though, it gets too difficult, you could always readjust the settings in the options menu.

Another great addition that helps people like me enjoy the game more this year are play styles. Players can choose different styles that change the complexity of the game. The easiest setting handles everything automatically except for hiking, running, and the actual act of throwing the ball. All other functions for your team are handled by the AI. On the other end of the spectrum, the hardest setting leaves every single thing in the hands of the player for a "true" football experience. Like I said, another successful EA addition this year.

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