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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A step up in just about every major way...
I don't like reviews on a lot of those game sites - I'm convinced that they get paid off. (lol) So here's my honest and rather in-depth look at Madden '09. (minus the online leagues, which I haven't done much of, as I'm not a fan of the setup) Long, I know... this is for those that may be considering buying the game - owners probably already have their opinions on it...
Published on August 23, 2008 by V

versus
37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Madden-Defective-Trash 09 (FREEZE)
This game is seriously horrible, which is why EA is now on its "second patch." I few reasons will be stated.

LOS LIMIT
The line of scrimmage (LOS) limit is useless during gameplay. The quarterback can scramble from the backfield while being pressured, pass the line of scrimmage and complete a pass to his receiver without any penalty. More devastating to...
Published on August 25, 2008 by H. Pericles


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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Madden-Defective-Trash 09 (FREEZE), August 25, 2008
By 
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
This game is seriously horrible, which is why EA is now on its "second patch." I few reasons will be stated.

LOS LIMIT
The line of scrimmage (LOS) limit is useless during gameplay. The quarterback can scramble from the backfield while being pressured, pass the line of scrimmage and complete a pass to his receiver without any penalty. More devastating to the defense is this: the defensive back (DB) breaks coverage and leave the receiver wide open, causing the QB to complete a deep pass.

To combat this glitch, Senior Designer Cummings states: "We addressed this by making sure the DB will no longer break on the ball when the QB crosses the line while throwing."

This means that the QB crossing the line of scrimmage (even though it is a violation/penalty) will remain in the gameplay, while the defensive back stay with his man and not break coverage.

USELESS PLAYER RATINGS
This glitch is perhaps the most disheartening glitch during gameplay. Players' ratings are put in the game for a reason and expected to have an impact and mean something, but they do not mean anything. EA developers added the ratings for the hell of it and for show - knowing they will be useless on the field and hoping gamers would not realize its uselessness. There have been many instances where QBs run over defenders and dishrag them around as if the defenders are Barbie Dolls. During a game against the New York Jets, QB Chad Pennington trucks DE Jason Taylor and then MLB Channing Crowder, and was later gang tackled. Such nonsense like this does not happen in real life and never would; it's impossible, especially against DE Taylor.

To show how useless and unrealistic the players' ratings are, three of these players will be evaluated. Because there are so many attributes, only the important ones will be mentioned: Overall, Strength, Trucking, and Tackle.

QB Chad Pennington's (6'3"/255 LBS) ratings: Overall: 81; Strength: 49; Trucking: 40; Tackle: 14.

DE Jason Taylor's (6'6"/260 LBS) ratings: Overall: 98; Strength: 77; Trucking 10; Tackle: 80.

MLB Channing Crowder's (6'2"/242 LBS) ratings: Overall: 85; Strength: 77; Trucking: 10; Tackle: 89.

The disparity in Jason's and Crowder's trucking compared to Pennington's is fickle and quite funny. How can a QB have a better trucking attribute than defensive players? Moreover, how could the strength of both Taylor and Crowder have no ability to render a tackle when their strengths are higher? Quarterbacks are not known for their trucking ability because they don't truck. When QBs break the line of scrimmage, they run for yards and slide on the ground or run out-of-bounds to avoid a hit (that's common), so for Pennington to have a trucking ability is fantasy; he doesn't even have the strength to truck.

Although he rarely did, it would be believable if a former QB like Michael Vick trunks and abuses a defender because he has the speed, agility, power, elusiveness, and more. In fact, he was known for making players look silly on the gridiron, but Pennington and other present QBs? Get out of here! It's foolish.

Strangely, there are even punters/kickers who have better trucking ratings than defensive players, which makes this glitch even more absurd: Dolphins' B. Fields, 45; Eagles' S. Rocca, 74; Jaguars' A. Podlesh, 35, etc. Never have a punter truck anybody in the NFL; it if occurred, it was rare. Basically, anyone can truck and throw aside any player in this game; the difficulty levels (even on All Madden) and ratings mean nothing. The physics is severely broken and means nothing. What a con.

POOR TACKLING
The tackling ability is poor at best. There is no other way to say it, because the tackling EA implemented this year is not authentic. Everyone (especially CPU) in this game seems to have the ability to breakaway and spin away from unexplainable easy tackles like never before, even when tackled by two players simultaneously. All the players on the field appear to be on superman mode. A player such as a RB can actually get hit by a defender, fall back and lose leverage, and without even putting his hand on the ground to gain his balance, he breaks the tackle(s) and continues running. The Laws of Physics demonstrate that such occurrence can not happen. This kind of absurdity can happen with any player, from a QB to a WR, from a DB to a PR. Don't weight, force, leverage, power, motion, and other physical mechanics matter anymore?

Hall of Fame RB Barry Sanders (the best RB in NFL's history) defied the laws of physics by doing some incredible things - and simply murdering and making his defenders look stupid: breaking 3 to 4 tackles at the same time; leaving his feet and landing on his feet; losing leverage and mysteriously rebounding; breaking heel tackles; trucking defenders; sniff-arming defenders with ease; escaping from two defenders while wrapped up; making defenders embarrassingly jump one way as he gained more yards or scored a touchdown; dragging defenders forward as he ran, etc. It wouldn't be problematic if a few players had some of these abilities, but everyone on the field? Not only do players embody the Sanders' motif, but their uniform seems to be drenched with Vaseline, which makes tackling a chore.

USER CATCH/SPIN-CATCH
In Madden NFL 08, the user catch was good and not so irritating. This year's Madden version is a different story. Under user control, a WR can run down the field open and have a clean bomb, but once the ball is about to be caught, the WR jumps up and does a strange spin-catch, allowing defenders to gain ground and make a tackle. There is no way a WR can be running down field alone at full speed and mysteriously turn around and do a spin-catch, when he could have easily continue his stride and catch the ball by turning his head around. (At times, the WR doesn't even react to the ball, even if it's at arm reach, when he is guided by the user.) Maybe this happens because the QB leads the WR poorly by throwing a bad pass, which is a common problem too, but it still shouldn't happen because receivers don't do such a thing.

The spin-catch affects the offense tremendously and seems to be an often occurrence. Spin-catches are done in real life, but the way EA executed this feature is unrealistic. When a receiver lines up and does a slant route, he does not jump and spin, showing his back when the ball is in the air, to catch it. In a slant route, a WR runs to the ball and reach out for a catch; if the ball is thrown high (beyond his ability to catch it), then he jumps for the ball with his face focused on the position of the ball in order to catch it. A receiver never turns his back, losing the sight of the football, and catches it in slant routes. It's not possible nor is it logical.

Moreover, there have been times when a simple screen play is done, and for some reason the RB spins and jumps and catches the ball by turning around for no reason. There is no way to explain why stuff like this occurs, and why EA implemented a dismal/impractical spin-catch feature when the game is marketed as a "real" football simulation.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE?
By definition, artificial intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer to execute functions that usually require human intelligence. No one expects the AI to be perfect, because humans are not perfect. However, people don't expect AI to lack the intelligence of common sense, and that's what they lack in this latest installment. They don't block nor do they care to block; they stand around and investigate the scene as if they are FBI agents; they miss easy interceptions by not putting up their hands, and more. These unresponsive issues are a headache. The user can only control one player at a time instead of his entire team, so he expects computer backup. Sometimes they act on impulse, and most of the time they don't. When the latter occurs, it is simply a mess.

For example, when a RB play is called, an offensive lineman (OL) could be directly in front of him as he runs and for some strange reason, the OL moves out the way and just stands there, leaving his own teammate defenseless while defenders are converging. Why would an OL abandon a block and simply stand there or aid another OL hold off a defender that is irrelevant to the play, allowing his RB to be tackled? This lack of common sense is mind-boggling, and would never happen in a real life football game. This is not AI; this is what I call PD, Pure Dumbness.

In Madden NFL 04 and 05, EA added a great feature that allowed anyone running with the ball to facilitate a lead block by pointing his hand, which was great for RBs (unlike the pointless OL Lead Blocking feature). Strangely, this feature was gone in the later installment. This is what EA is known for; developers put a feature in one year and it vanishes the following year.

The AI flaws occur in every aspect of the game. For example, on offense, a WR could be the intended target and when the ball is in the air, he doesn't even try to catch it. He doesn't even react to the ball. Many times, the ball hits him directly in the back. Every WR knows that when the ball is in the air, he needs to react and attempt to catch it, or knock it down if the defender is in position for an interception. Therefore, why is this realism not in the game?

Another case in point occurs on defense when the DB has a clear-cut interception and doesn't even put his hands up to catch the ball. Because of such stupidity and lack of common sense, the ball hits him directly in the face or chest. This is what gets one's veins boiling. At least attempt to catch the ball. If things like these occurred in the NFL with a WR or DB, he would get a tongue-lashing from his coaches and probably released the following week.

EA claims to have enhanced the AI yearly, but it is slim at best because there's really no headway. In truth, the AI in Madden has been stuck on pure dumbness for years (even when the AI slider is at its max) and it continues in the latest installment - and developers at EA haven't done anything to address the problem which is sad.

FREEZE ISSUE
This glitch is the biggest killer. The freezing occurs in Play Now and in every area of the game at random, but where it happens the most is in Franchise mode. It affects the Franchise mode tremendously and happens constantly, 100% of the time.

As a Dol-fan, the team of choice in Franchise was the Miami Dolphins. In Season 1, everything was going fine (including the "Training" mode) until the latter. Around week 14, the Training mode and games being played started freezing. The freezing in Training mode happens when one leaves the menu to see their players' earned points. When one continues to player's two earned points, it just freezes (bringing back memories from Madden NFL 08 and 07).

Frustrating as this glitch was, the console (Xbox 360) was turned off and restarted. The Franchise was loaded and Training mode was tried again, and the same thing occurred. Again, the console was turned off and restarted. Rather than going back to Training mode, it was skipped, opting to only play the game.

From then on, only the games were being played without training any players. Subsequently, the games started to freeze up too. In fact, I played the same team three times because it was continuously freezing; one game froze in the 4th quarter, but I remained persistent with anger. With all of these difficulties, Season 1 was finally completed.

Season 2 is when things really started to act up. The game started to freeze while trades were being executed, while players were being signed, and the whole roster adjustments. After some turning off and restarting the console, my roster was finally set for pre-season. Training mode was tried again, and again it failed via freeze. Instead of wasting time trying to combat this annoying glitch, the entire pre-season was simulated. This is where it gets worse.

I enter Season 2 and play game one. The 15-minute quarter game goes well without any glitch; I return to the menu and attempt to use the Quick Save feature, and it freezes. No longer could my anger be contained. My controller nearly flew out of my hands and into the TV screen. And yes, several expletives were said, especially having difficulties prior. Trying to simulate the week thereafter with the Quick Save feature still didn't help because it froze.

This is when I went into troubleshooting mood. Each game was simulated one by one which worked. However, every time simulation (and Quick Save) was used to advance to week 2, the game froze. This method was tried more than ten times straight and it failed. I then tried to save the game the normal way and it froze. In other words, there is absolutely no way to advance to the following week, because it freezes in simulation and during saving.

Trying to find some answers, Training mode was selected again, and this time, the game froze while showing the NFL facts. The Training mode can not be entered, period. The game freezes in every aspect of Franchise. After trying so many things, the conclusion was simple: there is no way to fight this issue. For example, a new Franchise was started and it too froze. Moreover, the game disc was exchanged for another new one, and the same thing continued to occur, proven that the game is, in fact, broken, poorly developed, and has a major freezing bug. This is just unacceptable.

The NFL, NFL Players Association, and John Madden should be embarrassed for having their names and likeness involved with this game. The NFL should revoke their exclusive license from EA, for their name is being exploited.

All in all, this game is great in regard to graphics; the same can not be said for the players. The gameplay is okay but it needs an overhaul. However, because of so many glitches (especially the constant freezing), Madden NFL 09 is PURE REFINED GARBAGE.

EA is a multi-billion dollar company and has conned its loyal Madden supporters by constantly putting out defective products. Moreover, EA uses consumers as beta testers and later releases "patches" to remedy the problems.

The so-called patch that should be out in about 3 weeks shows how lethargic their work ethic is, and most likely will not remedy the freezing bug. If released through Xbox Live only, what will happen to those customers who have no access to the Internet? Will they be out of luck or will EA come up with a solution?

EA ought to be ashamed for such disaster. All of the employees that were involved with this game's development should take a sock, fill it up with ice, and slap themselves in the face for releasing MADDEN-DEFECTIVE-TRASH 09. Electronics Arts should be renamed to Electronic Faults, because majority of their games are embedded with bugs.

Congratulations EA for defecating on your loyal Madden fans once again.

COMPLETE REVIEW can be found here (rendered AUG 30): [...]
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars MADDEN "FREEZE PATCH" 09 - DO NOT WASTE YOUR MONEY!, October 2, 2008
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
A class action law suit should be filed against EA Sports for releasing this seriously flawed product for sale.

Instead of calling the game Madden 09, they should have called it Madden "Freeze Patch" 09.

It is bad enough that all of your game data is lost when Madden 09 invariably freezes, but in order to "fix" these problems, you have to download a patch, and once the patch is loaded, you have to start a brand new franchise in order for the patch to work. By the way, if you do not have a way to run these patchs... Sorry... You are out of luck!

EA has taken away some old bells like the General Manager feature, which was a personal favorite, and added a new whistle like the Trainer Mode, which is apparently supposed to help you learn how to play the game, but it seems to me that once you get proficient at the game, this feature would be useless. However, I wouldn't know this for sure because the game froze when I tried to use this feature, and EA Sports answer for this was "Say no when you the game asks you if you want to go to the training mode."

Really? I just put down $60.00 for a game, and I am instructed by the company not to use the features they programmed into the game, because they know it causes the game to crash.

Unbelievable!!!

Do yourself a big favor, if you are considering purchasing Madden 09, go to [...] and read the blogs before you buy. It is truly astonishing the number of problems that people are having with this game, and EA Sports take on all this seems to be... We realize there are problems, and we are working on the issues, but if we implement all the fixes, we will not have anything new for Madden 10.

What?

This year is the twentieth anniversary for the Madden football series (and I have owned most of them), you would have thought that EA Sports would have gotten right by now, but this is far and away the worse Madden game they have ever released, and what is EA Sports concern... If they fix all the problems this year, what is going to motivate us into wasting our hard earned money next year?

But hey... I guess EA Sports doesn't call it MADDEN for nothing... The more the game freezes the MADDER you get!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Freeze Frame, August 27, 2008
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
Great graphics but again EA being the Monopoly that they are finds a way to ruin things and their cockiness won't accept the fact they messed up.

My game freezes randomly. In franchise mode I know for sure if i play a second game it will freeze if the first game doesn't already. It has froze online and on the play selection menu sometime the instant replay will be all black and white (think like old tv static with no reception)

They patched the game the first week becuase there were so many bugs.

I called EA on Sunday and the Tech guy EVEN SAID "I have a 360 and it freezes on me too we have been receiving alot of calls about this...THE PATCH SHOULD BE OUT IN LIKE A MONTH"

Isn't this why EA has game testers? to find bugs to find glitches..Like I said before the cockiness is too point where we are the BETA we test the games but we don't get paid we pay to test the game.

I can understand bugs but a game that completely freezes or says unreadable disc (new game no scratches) is ridiculous.
The one thing you can always say with a EA game good graphics as far as gameplay, controls, and overall enjoyment????
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars EA Released Defective Product!!!! - not just my copy, September 7, 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I have been playing Madden for more than 15 years and have purchased a new copy almost every one of those years. The gameplay is always enjoyable and the visual appeal is consistently high - even this year. The problem, unfortunately, is much bigger than gameplay and graphics.

This game does not work. It freezes constantly in the middle of games, making it frustrating to play and impossible to make progress in a season or franchise (in my opinion, the most fun part of Madden). I'm not the only one that has had this problem and I know it's not just a case of returning a defective copy for a new one. The EA forums are filled with posts of rapidly angry Madden customers whose games do not work. Many of these people have returned their discs for new copies - 4 or 5 times!!! - and every copy they play has the same problem. It gets worse.

The game has actually killed many people's consoles! Killed. After trying to play the game and having it freeze multiple times, many people experienced freezing problems with other games that had never frozen before. Some people were unable to play games or DVDs in their console after trying to play Madden 09. Some had their hard drives stop working completely. Thankfully, I have not yet had this fatal problem. But I fear it could happen at any moment, and my console is no longer under warranty. But if you search for "Madden freeze" at the EA forums, you'll see how many people have had this happen.

A few of us have been able to minimize the freezing problem, by doing this: after every single game or training session, save your progress and restart your console! Every single time. Apparently (even EA admits this) the freezing seems to occur when you try to load the "game engine" multiple times within the same session. So if you try to train your players before a game (one load) and then play a game (another load) without saving and restarting the console - you can almost be sure your game will freeze. Maybe in the 1st quarter, maybe in the 4th quarter. Maybe your console will freak out and die! Who knows.

Because of all the complains on their message boards, EA is obviously aware of the problem. Supposedly they are working on a patch to fix this issue. The game was released on August 12 - almost a month ago - and since then their product has literally destroyed people's consoles. By their own admission, they have to balance their time spent working on this patch with time spent on next year's version of Madden. That's how much they care that their product is faulty and even potentially destructive. I have also heard complaints - via the EA forums - that many people experienced serious defects with last year's version of the game and EA had also promised a patch to fix the issues. Unfortunately, the patch was not released until almost the end of the NFL season - about 4 months after the game was released. So I'm not holding my breath while I wait for the patch they say is coming.

If I had known all this before I pre-ordered the product, I would never have purchased it. That's why I want everyone else to know what's in store for them. I highly recommend nobody else purchase this game until EA decides to release a functional product. It's criminal that they can release software they KNOW doesn't work (and actually build hype about how great it is for months) and then just move on to the next thing without any consideration for their customers' experiences or, for that matter, property damage. Unfortunately, EA is the only company licensed by the NFL to use the real teams and players, so they have zero competition in making true-to-life NFL video games. And this is what we get as a result: a terrible product and worse service.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars QA problems, September 3, 2008
By 
James H. Kiley (Pittsburgh, PA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I've played the game just a few times so far, all single-player.

The adaptive difficulty engine is interesting in theory. At the start of the game, you are walked through a series of simplified game scenarios and tested on your ability to react appropriately. At the end of each test you are rated. The scenarios are in four general categories (pass offense, rush offense, pass defense, rush defense).

The problem with the adaptive difficulty engine so far is that it measures you on things that do not equate well with the hard parts of the game. I was ranked "All-Pro" in pass offense and "All-Madden" in rush offense, yet in my first couple of games I threw tons of picks and had several runs totally stuffed. So my ranking in those skills has gone down. My skill hasn't changed -- it was just mismeasured at the start.

Additionally, I've had the game crash (totally freeze up) once -- which I've literally never seen before on my 360 -- and one of the allegedly-exciting touchdown animations didn't animate at all.

I think there's a lot of potential here but so far I am unimpressed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment...., August 27, 2008
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
EA Sports is abusing their monopoly on NFL football right now, and it is very disappointing showing compared to past years of this title. My biggest gripe is that the on line play is buggy, and it is far less entertaining than the last seven years I have purchased it.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Started 4 Games completed 1!!!!, September 14, 2008
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I wish I could have been able to give this game a more honest review because from what I was able to see the graphics were heightened and the difficulty set to your personal playing level seemed like an improvement.

But the time-line went a little something like this: I started a franchise with the Lions (I know) went through the Madden test to receive my Madden IQ (how the game is fine-tuned to your playing level) and around the 4 minute mark the game FROZE after a tackle (I even intercepted the ball!).
I restarted the entire process right away after turning the game off of course. IQ test, preseason pre-game training (how you increase your players' stats - rather pain staking for so measly little upgrades), I SAVED the thing and started my first game. Froze. Second period during the play call screen. Game off for the night.
Next day: Turned on load saved game and tried again. FINISHED THE GAME. I lost. BUT I FINISHED MY FIRST GAME. Hey I'm 1/3. Saved. Second game. Froze in the first period. Game off for the night.
Next day: Walked into EB and returned the stupid game. Never another Madden game ever. Went home and enjoyed 2K5 on the ps2. Waiting for Fallout 3.

The end. This might not be you. Check EA forums for similar stories and updates on the problem.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A step up in just about every major way..., August 23, 2008
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I don't like reviews on a lot of those game sites - I'm convinced that they get paid off. (lol) So here's my honest and rather in-depth look at Madden '09. (minus the online leagues, which I haven't done much of, as I'm not a fan of the setup) Long, I know... this is for those that may be considering buying the game - owners probably already have their opinions on it. Madden-ites undoubtedly already love it.

So... Madden '09. Basically, superior to '08 in every aspect, even if only a little bit. Still an improvement, which we haven't seen in this series from year to year in awhile. Definitely not the huge jump that '08 was from '07 - mainly because '07 was God-awful and '08 was rather good - Madden '09 is a game of more subtle improvements and tweaks than a complete overhaul. But after 20 years of this, I guess they figured they were better off leaving the core gameplay alone. Seems to work for the most part. Here's a breakdown (as I see it) of the main areas: Graphics, Sound/Presentation, Gameplay, and New Additions

GRAPHICS - Outstanding. Again, more of the 'tweakings' are what gets noticed by myself when I'm playing. Take the players - many more body types. Distict body styles for the different players... everyone appears to mirror their real-life counterpart even more accurately than last year's version. The separate hand and head physics are very nice: they act independently from each other, so the reactions to the plays still plays very fluid, but much more realistic. The ball no longer magically goes from a yard away from your receiver to safely tucked in his hands in a matter of one frame (for the replay junkies). Everything is nice and smooth. When your player gets hit, watch as his neck snaps back or around as he gets smashed. It's a little touch, but one that adds a great degree of realism. The crowd looks great, and very energized - to the point that they will remain in the stadium cheering like it's kickoff time even when the home team is trailing by 49 points in the 4th. Oh well... And some of the player faces - notably those of the players on the sidelines and (surprisingly) your kicker when he's kicking off - they look kinda scary. Like those things from `I Am Legend'. If you get a chance, look at them. Freaks you out for a second...

The biggest thing graphically for me this year is the field itself. Might not be a big thing to some, but the field looks absolutely great this year. It actually looks like you can feel the grass give way beneath your players... in inclement weather, watch as the field (and your uniforms - very nice) gets destroyed. See footprints actually being left in the mud and snow as you play. I love it. (though suprisingly, tackles and dives/slides seem to leave no evidence... hmmmm.) EA definitely took great strides with the weathering effect... maybe a tad too much for some. It can get pretty sloppy out there, almost to the point where it's difficult to tell the teams from one another. My only teeny gripe with the field - it's the same throughout... everywhere. Every field doesn't look the same. Especially in DOMES. (duh) But here, every field, whether it's Soldier Field or the RCA Dome, looks identical. But whatever, that's just picky. The stadiums for the most part look identical to their real-world counterparts... the lighting and textures are flawless. Very few issues noticed... an occasional jagged framerate during kickoffs is the one I've seen, not that frequently.

SOUND/PRESENTATION - Outstanding. Or... Outstanding, compared to what they've offered in the past. However you want to look at it. One of the first things you'll notice when you put the game into the 360 is (drumroll please) Mr. John Madden himself. Wow... imagine that. After he introduces you to the Madden Skill Test, you only hear from him sporadically throughout the game - asking his advice for plays, viewing halftime highlights (the selection of highlights is sometimes retarded, just so you know...) and post-game. This is probably a good thing. The presentation is SO thorough this time, you may actually feel like it's a bit TOO much. There seems to be a menu or graphic flying across the screen at all times. Thankfully, a few (such as the audible and pre-snap menus) can be turned off. TV-quality graphics throughout, definitely. The broadcast duo of Cris Collinsworth and Tom Hammnod, while not as brilliant or fluid as the original duo from the NFL 2K series, are roughly a billion times better than the AM-Radio announcer Madden has had the past few years. Collinsworth is by far the better of the two. Though hardly filled with emotion and (often) believability, their commentary is pretty accurate, and they delve into specifics quite frequently. Occasionally they get it laughably wrong: One play, I returned a punt with Devin Hester and got about a 28 yard return. Collinsworth said: "This guy won't win too many foot races, but he sure made their special teams look slow." Not sure how many foot races he'd lose, with a 100 speed rating and a sub-4.3 40-yd dash time... Anyway. If the play is substantial enough, it'll get reviewed through the new "EA Sports BackTrack" - where the play will be broken down by C.C., complete with fancy graphics and animated arrows and zoom-ins on specific players. Very nice touch... not necessary, by any means, but it adds to the realism of the game. As far as the soundtrack - very Madden-esque. Rock, mixed with some Hip-Hop. Still no option to use your own music from your hard drive - that annoys me.

GAMEPLAY - Tried and True. It's what you'd expect in Madden. And let's be honest, is there anyone out there that is really playing THIS Madden as their first? Some of the minor tweaks to this year's game: slightly smoother gameplay... you can more or less chain together jukes and other highlight-stick moves to avoid tackles, and it looks more fluid and lifelike than previous editions. One minor upgrade than has a huge impact is your QB having to actually slow down/stop to plant his feet to throw - a la real life. I mean, you can throw on the run and all, but you won't be nearly as accurate as you would be had your QB planted and then thrown that 40 yard bullet pass. And it actually takes a step or two (or several, depending on the weather) for your QB to stop after running - no more magical sprints-to-dead-stops. Takes less than a second usually, but that time in the pocket (as another reviewer mentioned) is precious and in limited supply, particularly on the harder difficulty settings.
There are also "Rivalry Games" this year... (yawn) A slant on the Rivalry Games of NCAA, this is basically anytime your team plays a team in its own division. (If you listen to Collinsworth before every game, it seems that you have a rivalry with just about every team in the NFL.) The computer jacks up it's intensity a good bit for these games, so be prepared - doesn't matter who the home team is.
Several new animations add to the overall feel of the game and add to the gameplay experience. Players celebrate with each other, help other players off the field, start little pushing matches, etc. FG missed short? You have a shot at running it back. You even have the ability to control your own endzone celebrations this year. Nice idea, but this is probably the weakest in action. After the TD, run to one of the glowing areas on the field and hit the appropriate button (usually Y) and your player will do some various celebration. Using the other buttons may net you some surprising results, or at least an achievement you weren't expecting. (hint hint) The glowing areas near the crowd usually involve jumping on the wall (Lambeau Leap) or doing some monkey-thing that is just dumb-looking. Incidentally, celebrate near that wall, but NOT on the glowing area, and your player will 9 times out of 10 celebrate right through the wall, disappearing completely off the screen. I'm sure EA didn't notice that. It's not a huge thing, but one that, when it happens, is COMPLETELY noticeable by everyone playing. And on a personal note, the `Slam Dunk' celebration was just done in a piss-poor fashion... come on EA, is that what we have to look forward to with NBA Live 09? I'll pass... Many of the other options you've come to love (or loathe) are here again as well: audibles, coverage audibles, bluffs, new smart routes (Have a route that puts your receiver just short of the 1st down marker? Adjust so that his route takes him a little deeper... YEARS overdue), etc.
Some may complain about the game difficulty, mainly the run defense and the computer's insane QB accuracy on the higher difficulties. All I can say is: get better, or tweak those settings. It's how the game was made, and the kind folks over at EA obviously believe that EVERY professional QB has the ability to go 28 for 30 in the wind and snow. (?!?!) XBox Live Gold members can play in online "leagues" and obviously ranked/unranked matches, or chill/conversate in the lobby. The main catch with being a Gold member is this is the ONLY way you can get those roster updates many were desperate for. Giants fans wondering why Shockey is still there, Strahan too? Jets fans DYING to see Favre in that Green and White, with Pennington down in Miami? Get your Live account up and running.
*And for you Achievement Hunters out there, this may be one of the easiest 1000 points that you've ever gotten. Aside from the team-specific ones, I got all of the achievements in ONE GAME. Come on EA... I'm not even into those, but at least have them difficult - like they have to be done on All-Madden or higher - or SOMETHING. Wow...*

NEW STUFF - Ehhhhhhhhhhhh... Good in principle. I already talked about the BackTrack thing. Last year brought Madden the Weapons system, which I loved. Still here this year, but obviously not the focus. This year's game gives us the A.D.E (Adaptive Difficulty Engine) and the Rewind feature.
A.D.E. - Okay, in theory, this is supposed to monitor your play throughout the game, and adjust the difficulty in the major areas, tailoring it specifically to your abilities. (or at least the abilities that you've shown thus far) So if you play and you get torched for 380 yards passing, but you manage to get 280 yards rushing, the AI will beef up your pass defense, while boosting the computers run-stop ability. (and when I say BOOST, I mean BOOST. They'll pull 20 people on the field, some with assault rifles, and the heaviest-set cheerleader on staff to stop your running game) My problem is that this engine evidently has problems telling the difference between times when you are very good and the when computer is just dumb. Since the engine takes the results into account, not HOW the results occurred, several drops by the computer, errant runs out of bounds and such all can lead to you looking (to the A.D.E.) like more of a Madden-God than you may actually be. Your Madden IQ score may jump, but the game difficulty will as well. So for those of you out there that are putting all this weight on that Madden IQ Test, remember it's "ON THE FIELD" that matters. My IQ Test was 771 the first time. Took it on the field, nosedive to 710 after the season-opener against the Colts. (NOT the team to face if your pass-D is a little shaky) I have it up to 768 now, after playing some more and getting used to the tackling a bit more. The My Skill difficultly level is cool for me, but the option is still there to tweak the settings - either All-Madden, All-Pro, Pro or Rookie... or turn the bars all the way up. That's right - past All-Madden. I generally play on All-Madden, with the Pass D turned up to full. Anything higher than that - for me - and the Rush D just gets to the point that it's not even fun, but I have to kick up the Pass D or I can still pick the CPU apart with too much ease. So find what works for you... don't get caught up in "Ego-playing" and end up not having fun.
REWIND - This was the addition I was probably the most skeptical about, reading up on it on IGN. After seeing it in action, I can see how it can be useful... I can also see how it will rarely be used for it's intended purpose, and why it's not available online. Contrary to belief, this was SUPPOSED to be a way of letting you go back, see what you did wrong on a play, and giving you one chance to do it over, this time - obviously - LEARNING from your mistakes and hoping for better results. What I've been seeing though is that this has turned into a means of eliminating those "WTF?!" moments that we're all familiar with and sometimes upset us to the point of controller-throwing/pet kicking (Don't kick your pets): The defender makes a leaping grab to pick off your otherwise perfect evening passing the ball, or you fumble a punt return on your own 17 yard line and have it returned for a TD... REWIIIIIIIIINNNNNDDDD!!!!! That's basically what happens... the play does a mini-VCR rewind back to just prior to the snap, and you have a do-over. You can set it so you have one, three, five or an unlimited amount (that's just sad). I wish you could have two - one each half - but I generally play with one, unless it's a tougher game, then I'll set it for 3. Many times I won't use them, but with what I call "EA Football 4th Quarters" still in full effect, it's nice to know they're there if I so choose to use them.

In the end, I think this is the best Madden yet, or at least as good as any previous Madden has been (not sure exactly what that's saying for the franchise) - DEFINITELY the best for the 360/PS3. Still not ready to hand over the title of favorite football game ever from NFL 2K4 and 2K5, but this is as close as they've come. With the advances of all this "Online Updates" and such, we may be getting to the point that it's no longer intelligent to pay $60 for minor tweaks and roster updates. Some would say we've BEEN at that point. (lol) This does feel more or less like an updated version of '08, and honestly I did pick it up since it was an `Anniversary' Year thing. But that doesn't stop this from being a pretty great game on it's own. People that love Madden will get this - most likely already have. If this is one of your first times at Madden, this is about as good a game as any to start with. Pretty user-friendly, and gorgeous to look at. A few more minor tweaks here and there and EA may be flirting with perfection. **Note** I have not had the 'freezing'/'glitching' issue that many have had, that apparently has people highly disappointed with this game, so I can't comment on that. I'm not a huge Madden fan at all, but have been playing them since 16-Bit days. (see my review of '07 and '08) But good is good. Overall I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Complete Trash, August 16, 2008
By 
= Fun:1.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
This game is not even worthy of 1 star, but that is the lowest Amazon allows. I decided to rent the game and test it out since some friends were eager to play it. The 8.65 I wasted to rent this garbage could have been put to better use as a substitute for toilet paper.
Problems With The Game:
* Same game with even less to offer. No noticeable improvements what so ever other than the graphics and the rosters.
* Game play is worse than any of the previous years. The score card is in the MIDDLE of the screen; add to that the defensive pre-snap plays, and the offensive pre-snap plays, and then you have over half of the screen covered. The play by play commentary gets annoying very fast. Why has EA STILL not implemented the ability to choose plays by pressing the red, green, blue, and yellow buttons, instead of just highlighting your play and pressing a button only to let your opponent know exactly which play you are running?
*Create a player is the same as before.
*Create a team is the same as before, no new logos or options.
*Superstar mode is a mess. I tried playing as a running back(McFadden) for the career. The kicker on the team is completely unable to make field goals other than extra points. (I stopped playing this mode after I discovered this)
*Online- leagues are a joke. If you and 3 other players want to do a league, then it will be you and only those 3, no computer teams. Each player drafts players until they fill their roster. It would also be nice if player stats are recorded from one season to the next.
*Fantasy football- yes, they actually put this in here.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Worst Madden EA Has Ever Released, September 19, 2008
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 (Video Game)
I am very disappointed with this madden. The graphics are subpar, there's no pregame or postgame presentation, controls are somewhat confusing, and the new madden IQ is one of the most awkward things I've ever encountered in a videogame. To actually finish one game takes about as much labor as playing a real game of football.
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Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360
Madden NFL 09 - Xbox 360 by Electronic Arts (Xbox 360)
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