Madden NFL 98
What has happened to American football? It used to be so cool. You couldn’t walk down the street without some pillock wearing a huge oversized Dolphins jacket (actually, that was me!), or ridiculous duck-style Giants cap. Hell, it’s not even cool for gangsta rappers to prance around looking mean in LA Raiders gear anymore. But most of all, the C4 coverage has been shifted around the late night schedules more times than that awful Nightshift program with Mr Bennet from Take Heart!
Whatever happens to the appeal and coverage of America’s most flamboyant sport, you can always bet that big Madden will be back with the definitive game. Madden ’98 continues the annual trend of bumpingup the team stats with up-to-date player rosters, adding new strategic plays to make the ground with, and polishing up the front end with new play-by-play analysis and brilliant commentary.
On the graphical side, it has to be said that Madden ’98 still looks like the attack of the Lego-men, but what we have got is an improved frame rate that enables more characters to move as precisely and smoothly as possible without slowdown, and this actually looks rather good. The AI of the computer-controlled players has also been improved, so now you really have to use cunning and strategy, as well as timing, to gain ground and ultimately score the touchdowns.
The amount of teams you can choose from is immense. Not only are there the current NFL teams, but past ones also – which consist of the season winners from a particular year (who could forget the Bears team of ’85 which thrashed the Patriots in Superbowl XX!), although the names have sadly been omitted.
Madden ’98 certainly has the gameplay, but it just doesn’t have that definitive look about it. After the memorable 3DO version, nothing else in Gridiron simulation seems to come close. Apart from the dodgy graphics, the sound is also rather suspect, what you’ve got is a series of pre-recorded sentences recorded by the commentary team, and then the development in play that is crudely inserted into the middle. Example: “The Packers run for a SIX yard gain.”
Everything else is in place – numerous stadiums with varying weather conditions, amusing injuries to players which sometimes even result in a motorised stretcher coming on to wheel them off, and witty, motion-captured touchdown celebrations. There are also options to create your own players, buy and sell big names, and devise you own custom tournaments. In our opinion, this is definitely the best American football simulation on the PlayStation, but there is enough room for improvement to guarantee another Madden outing next year!