Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 08/19/01 | Genre: Sports
Madden 2002 is like Madden 2001 for the PS2 in many respects. It contains all of the same game modes, including exhibition, season, and franchise, where you guide your team through subsequent NFL drafts, with player progression making the young players get more skilled, and the old guys gradually lose their ability. A new mode in 2002 is Two Minute Drill, where you take control of a team and attempt to score as many times as possible in two minutes. Players playing against a computer can once again play for Madden cards, acquired by meeting certain quotas of yardage/receptions/etc. or by making a big play, like a sack, interception, or special teams touchdown.
Graphically, expect more of the same for the most part. EA improved the animation on pass deflections. They also redid some of the player and coach faces, adding a little more detail. In some cases however, I think they tried to detail this too much and fouled it up. Bill Cowher for instance, looks ridiculous. And as long as I'm writing about ridiculous graphics, I'd like to go on a mini-tirade about the addition of two-dimensional photographer sprites along the outside of the sidelines. I'll spare you all the meat of my tantrum, but these bizarre, misshapen creatures appear to have gotten lost on their way to the Duke Nukem 3D set. Despite this game design oddity, I'd have to say that overall the graphics are astounding, considering the fluidity of player animation in a sport that has a lot of intricacies that can be easily overlooked. Players vary in height, weight, waist size, and muscle build, leaving behind the days where your receivers are just as stocky as your linemen. Stadiums are once again masterfully crafted.
I was blown away once again by the sound. If you have your PS2 plugged into a sound system, you're in for an auditory treat. With the volume cranked a little bit, it genuinely sounds like a football stadium. You hear the roar of the crowd, occasional announcements over the PA system, and all the wondrous crunches of athletes colliding at high speeds. Also included is the infamous play by play of Pat Summerall and the color commentary of John Madden. This tends to be enjoyable at first, and tedious as time goes by. Particularly annoying the occasional comment by Madden that is completely and utterly wrong. An example: John once informed me that because my running back lost two yards on a rush, following two 15-20 yard runs, that my running game hadn't been a factor all day. My response echoed that of my friends' in multiplayer match-ups, which is usually 3 or 4 impolite words and an extended finger in the direction of my PS2.
In terms of actual gameplay, I think Madden 2002 improved over last year in a couple of departments. First, linemen have gotten much smarter about their blocking assignments. This year, counters, traps, screens, and other plays with more complicated blocking assignments work much more often than they did on 2001. Sweep plays also tend to be more effective than in 2001. I also noticed that if you're having success running the ball, play action passes tend to work better, just as they would in a real game. Pass defense has improved as well, with the R1 and L1 buttons now assigned as buttons to deflect a pass. In all honesty, though, there isn't that much in 2002 that wasn't in 2001. Madden 2002 is what 2001 could have been with a few minor tweaks here and there.
To conclude, if you don't have a football game for your PS2 yet, Madden 2002 comes with my highest recommendation. If you own 2001, first ask yourself how much updated rosters and the aforementioned gameplay tweaks are worth to you. If the answer is 50 bucks, then by all means, pick up 2002. Oh, and... GO STEELERS! (Editor's Note: The 49ers are America's real team!!!! GO NINERS!!!!)