Madden makes its second appearance on XBOX with the 2003 edition. Rather than go through the game, as it’s pretty much identical to the great review done by Charlie,
I’ll outline and review the features that are prevalent to the XBOX.
Upon first loading Madden 2003, the game detected that I had NCAA also. As a reward for owning another EA sports game you are given five Madden cards which can be used to unlock teams, stadiums or cheats. While not detrimental to the game, it’s nice to see EA reward you a little bit for owning another one of their products. It gives the user who wants to collect all cards a little jumpstart on the task.
The hard drive for the XBOX makes saving and loading games a lot easier and more convenient than using memory cards. With the massive amount of storage on the 8 GIG hard drive, you’ll have plenty of room to run multiple leagues and profiles without having to keep a few memory cards at hand. To me, this is one of the biggest reasons to get any EA Sports game on the XBOX.
Graphics are clean and crisp with some great player models and stadium renderings. The crowd really impressed me, as they don’t seem like flat cardboard cutouts in the stands anymore. They have a life of their own and really improve the atmosphere of the game. Texture wise, the game looks incredible. The clean textures help bring to life the realistically animated characters on screen along with providing a realistic look to the field and stadium. Whereas last year’s version has zombie eyes, this year’s eyes in the players look a lot less zoned out.
Naturally more animations are included in this year’s version producing a nice variety of action on the field. You’ll see tackles that weren’t in previous versions. One of the new actions allow you to face the ball and defend it rather than running around blindly and trying to jump around. There’s some gang tackling but it’s still not to a point where you see it in the NFL game. At most you’ll see two people taking down a ball carrier but it’s a start for the franchise to add this feature in. I hope they evolve this aspect in near year’s version to the next level and provide some true gang tackling.For Madden, they fixed the control scheme that was plaguing NCAA on the XBOX. For some unknown reason, the yellow button called the play positioned at the right instead of flip back to the formation selection in NCAA. Madden thankfully fixed this and is now consistent with the PS2 version where the yellow button flipped back to the formation screen with the red button calling the right most play. The annoying speed burst button switch from offense to defense is still there though. It would’ve been nice if EA did include a way to map buttons and with that a lot of the control problems can be fixed in terms of button assignments.
Like most XBOX games, Madden features Dolby Digital surround sound for those with a 5.1 setup. Hearing the roar of the stadium coming from all around you is pretty damn cool. You’ll also hear tackles and hits from various directions around you. Another reason I enjoy XBOX games over PS2 games is the ability to hear true surround sound.
A feature that’s missing on the XBOX version is the ability to play over the Internet. I don’t see why they would omit this as the XBOX does have a built in Ethernet port. I was really looking forward to play some of my friends over the Internet but I guess I’ll have to wait until next year to experience that on the XBOX. At the minimum they should’ve included System Link to allow for LAN people to play or a few people to play with third party routing programs. If you do want Internet play, look at the PS2 or PC version to get your online Madden fix.
One of the best football games out right now, Madden 2003 does a great job in providing a fun experience for any football fan. The new features such as Madden 101 and the mini camps help you get a feel for the game if you’re a novice and give you some practice on specific areas. The lack of Internet play is a disappointment to me as I was looking forward to challenging a bunch of my friends through XBOX Live but I guess I can wait until next year’s version for that. Thankfully, EA fixed the control scheme that didn’t make sense on the XBOX version of NCAA so that it was more consistent. All in all, Madden 2003 is a great football game that continues the EA tradition of quality for Madden.