by EA Sports Reviewed by: Garon Galloway
The answer to the question "Whodaman?" in NFL broadcaster/Analysts is John Madden. He doesn't like to fly in planes, went to the Fox network for the big bucks, but he KNOWS football and is fun to listen to and learn from. His chalk talk and in-depth coverage will add to your knowledge of the NFL. This game is another in a long line of official Madden football games and it brings with it a few new features to play with.
Madden football, like most of EA Sports' offerings, is a simulation. It is meant to be as close to the real thing as possible. So in evaluating how good a game it is, one must compare it to the real megasport of NFL football. It has all the aesthetics of the real deal including the most popular offenses and defenses. It has all the real locations for the stadiums and occasionally throws in a winter snow game. I didn't see any rain games, however.
This game is licensed by the NFLPA. I assume it was because some of the rookies hadn't yet signed contracts that their names are not in the game. Some of them are only represented by their number instead of their name which leads to some oddities like a player with a name of Number 12 wearing the Number 80 jersey. If you play through a season in franchise mode, the game will make up new players to be drafted in a fourth round draft. The highest scores I saw available in the first round were in the seventies. It would be nice to be able to enter new players with stats.
Madden 99 has plenty of modes including season, franchise, tournament, fantasy draft, and practice. All of them are interesting, especially the fantasy draft. As with most sports games, these modes are more fun playing against other humans instead of the Artificial Intelligence. I assume there might be some plays that consistently beat the computer, but I didn't find them. It isn't that tough to pick defenses that can basically shut down teams.
The fun thing about season mode is that it seems to go like the pre-season predictions had them going but not much like they actually went. For example, Minnesota doesn't do so good while Tampa Bay does. The season (thanks to the NFL license) goes exactly like the actual scheduled season so you can take your favorite team through the trenches and see if you can do better than they did. Of course, you only save when you want to so you can keep playing a game over and over until you get a perfect record even if you are playing the Colts.
While franchise mode is not very well suited to a console game, Madden 99 makes an admirable attempt. I found that the menus were not laid out very intuitively and that it took extensive renavigating to make simple decisions like should I sign a high priced free agent? I'm not sure exactly what formula the AI uses to approve or refuse trades but it seemed only interested when I offered a player that was at least 10 points superior in overall rating. However, this did lead to some fun trades like picking up Payton Manning for Warren Moon and trading an average linebacker for Randy Moss (he appears in the game as Number 12). One way to take advantage of this mode is to sign highly rated free agents like Gary Zimmerman and then trading them for lower salaried, younger, up and coming talents. These are players that you wouldn't have had access to otherwise without trading away your best players.
Tournament mode is for when you have an army of friends over and want to play an ongoing tournament. This is a very cool feature as is the fact that you can play two on two and combine your skills with a friend to take out your rivals. The game also allows you to swap out your memory pak for the rumble pak so you can feel the crushing blows.
So how does the game actually play? Everything seems to be there with options for each of the buttons through all the aspects of the game (it takes a while to learn all of the options you have). The passing game is a bit stringent as it doesn't allow different touches on the passes. It's also difficult to get true reads down the field because you can't see the outsides of the offense. There seems to be a lot of interceptions in the games on both sides of the ball.
The different views are pretty cool, especially the blimp cam. This view does make it easier to see the whole field. There are quite a few different views to choose from so I would recommend trying all of them to see which one suits you the best. Overall, the graphics are decent but the players look stiff most of the time. It is also annoying that players walk through each other between plays. I don't mean infiltrated, I mean like Patrick Swayze in the movie Ghost. Also why does the quarterback have to line up to kick only to be transformed into the usually shorter kicker.
System Features Supported
Supports 1-4 Player/Simultaneous mode, N64 Controller Pak, and N64 Rumble Pak.
This game attempts to get everything in the game but I didn't find it that enjoyable. From the fact that I seemed to win only one in five of the coin flips to the lack of superstar players entering in during the seasonal drafts. The franchise and season modes would be more interesting if you could make multiplayer deals or throw in cash to finish a deal. Negotiating contracts would be more realistic if you weren't just tossing contract offerings against a wall until one sticks - there just isn't enough interaction there. This game is probably the best simulation out there so I hope it's time to raise the bar and do some things that will knock peoples' socks off again. But it is probably the best NFL simulation there is so it's got some things going for it. I would definitely recommend renting before buying!
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