Published by: EA Sports Developed by: EA Sports Tiburon For: Gamecube, PS2, Xbox, GBA, PC Version reviewed: Gamecube ESRB Rating: E for Everyone

Madden NFL 2004 was a risk for me. I had enjoyed the 2003 edition, so it came as no surprise to myself that I would want to own the newest version when I heard it was coming out. Tighter controls, better graphics, and more plays are the meat of the game, while the better presentation and exclusive PlayMaker control are the icing to top the package. You see, in order for you to actually feel like that crucial player, you are now able to redirect players, coverage, and zones of defense. This allows for a much better, more intimate feel to the game, and also gives armchair coaches more reason to stay glued to their seats for hours on end, without the game getting repetitive.


Once more, the graphics that decorate this gorgeous version of Madden are truly something to behold. Graphics are always what draws people to games, at least initially, and this is no, different for Madden 2004. There are hundreds of animations in Madden 2004. Really. This is a cool thing, as well as a good thing, because the animations allow for more realistic plays. Players can trip over others, catch a pass on their knees, even stumble after colliding with another player. It all comes off as a very clean and stylized game that fully utilizes the Gamecube?s hardware, which, my friends, is no small feat. The fact that Madden 2004 is the only true football simulation available for a Nintendo system (no, NFL Blitz Pro is not a sim) is not a thing to scoff at either. Since Sega gave up the Gamecube for a bigger user base with its improved ESPN-liscensed games (ESPN NFL Football, ESPN NHL Hockey, ESPN NBA Basketball), which actually used to be the 2K series, the Madden games are the only games made for the Gamecube, even if it isn?t exclusive. The problem here is that the faces of the players are absolutely ugly. If you see screens from other systems, it is the same story?butt-ugly faces do nothing to accent the game. Not that I?m saying that the players are really, really ugly in a putrid sort of way; quite the opposite, in fact, but the representation of the in-game player is not even a close proximity to the likeness that other games achieve.


What with new features and really easy passing, as well as new plays and player abilities, Madden NFL 2004 certainly thrives in this area. All it takes is simple button press, and you can have any player on the field. Known as the Personnel System, it switches the players? positions so as to get a better play on the field, and, perhaps, pull a fast one on your friend. The ability to change a play on field is also very significant, and this allows you to, again, pull a fast one on your friends. If you are lucky, you might be able to completely block a play; again, a very important aspect to a football game. Multiplayer, as always, is a blast to play with friends, seeing who can win a tourney full of the greatest football stars of all time?your group of friends. Well, actually, just seeing who can win with their favorite football team is probably enough?no, really.


Aside from the now-obligatory EA Trax, a mish-mash of popular music stuffed into a completely unrelated video game, and the crowd chanting, yelling, and screaming, there is not much meat to the sound area in Madden. If you happen to be a fan of Dirty South rap, or punk music, or screaming, well, then you are in great luck. Madden 2004 features tunes from the likes of Bubba Sparxxx, Nappy Roots, The Roots, and others that are mostly famous for either dissing different people, or just screaming about how they hate their dad. No matter, because most of the songs are high energy and an absolute blast to listen to while you?set concession prices in your stadium???

Owner Mode

Well, that?s exactly what you do in the new sim mode that is actually quite reminiscent of Sim City, or perhaps Roller Coaster Tycoon. All that you basically do is design and build a stadium, or, if you want to, upgrade and renovate your current stadium, setting everything from the prices of concessions, such as drinks and meals, to setting the prices of tickets, heck, you can even set the prices of the merchandise. The main benefit that this new mode offers is exactly what the game advertises: absolute control. Over everything. No kidding. Besides from the much-hyped PlayMaker control, this new mode offers all players the chance to actually run the stadium of their dreams?set everything that you want to up, and please, cater to the masses. Not everyone can afford a luxury box, you know.


One of the main problems I?ve always had with the Madden series of games is the sheer difficulty of the controls. While many hype the simplicity and the easy learning curve, I?ve always found it more difficult than, say, a combo-heavy fighter. While this is most definitely not a problem for some, for me it has been quite an adventure?from the most simple of passes, to coordinating the best possible defensive strategy to stop the monstrous attacking that most offenses possess, Madden has always been a lesson in difficulty for me, and this has always driven me away from the game. Not so with the 2004 edition of EA Sports? most prestigious of titles. It might be because I played the 2003 version before this, causing the game to be simpler for me. It might be because I actually read the manual, not having it read to me. It doesn?t matter. What does matter is the fact that Madden NFL 2004 features some of the most amazing feeling controls, and some of the most simple to master, that I?ve ever played in a game. PlayMaker control definitely adds to this feeling. It allows total control of the way the play occurs. Don?t like that the play you?ve picked has your favorite receiver going off field? Not a problem. Just tap the right analog stick up (the C stick on the Gamecube), and you can send your player up field. That running play giving your defense a problem? Just tap down on the right analog stick, and send your linebackers heading towards the offending runner. Eventually, you will be able to master every single nuance of the PlayMaker control, and it will become second nature to the player.


Well, the moment of truth has arrived for John Madden?s all-star ensemble. Is the game too violent? The answer is nay. Are there too many sexual references? No. Again, the cheerleaders are scantily clad, but you can skip past that part, and it is just a five second segment. Is there cussing at all? Nope. Some of the songs have some bleeped out words, but you can find those quickly enough and delete the songs from the play list. Overall, Madden NFL 2004 is an excellent game, made better by good gameplay, easy controls, good sound, and, for some most important, great graphics. If football games are your thing, buy this today.

Final Ratings

Graphics A+ Gameplay A Sound B+ Control A Appropriateness A+

Overall: 98%

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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