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Who says you have to grow up? Here at SI.com's Game Room, our staffers review the latest sports video game titles to hit the market and welcome your feedback.
8/12/2008 10:26:00 AM

Review: Madden 09 (Xbox 360, PS3)

Madden 09 (Xbox 360/PS3)
More Madden: Wii Review | Madden Covers Gallery | Mattel to Madden | Madden Curse

Image Credit: EA Sports
Things We Like
Madden Turns 20: Does anybody remember what video game football was like before Madden? Though the Tecmo franchise offered some amusing -- if not shallow -- experiences, the landscape was littered with laborious adaptations such as 10-Yard Fight and John Elway's Quarterback Challenge. Then Coach Madden came and changed everything. We're happy to report that the 20th anniversary of this glorious franchise keeps up the tradition of raising the bar for what a football video game should be.
Bring Your Playbook: Right away you'll realize this isn't your father's Madden. John Madden puts you right in the classroom when you boot up the game, offering up his "Madden IQ" test to evaluate your gamer skill level. The test is taken in an ultra-cool 3D, holographic environment and involves a series of drills for the key facets of gameplay: passing, rushing, run defense, pass defense. After you finish, you'll be given your Madden IQ score (200-800), which you can improve upon as you progress through the game or if you retake the test.
The Age of A.I.: The stock difficulty settings football games have offered us all these years have grown tired. That's why it's so refreshing to see Madden's new "My Skills" feature. Picking up on your Madden IQ score, the CPU will construct a customized difficulty tailored specifically for your skills. Beginners and longtime gamers who have been intimidated by complex football titles will be able to challenge the most hardened of Madden veterans without fear of being embarrassed.
Still The Real Thing: For hardcore gamers, all of the complexities you have come to love (i.e. Hot Routes) are still there and more, including such new features as Formation Subs, Slide Protection, Bluff Play art, and Smart Routes (to the first-down marker) are at your disposal.
Booth Truth: Veteran announcers Tom Hammond and Cris Collinsworth, newcomers to the virtual booth, do an excellent job, even if you sometimes feel as though you are watching Notre Dame getting throttled on a Saturday afternoon on NBC. Collinsworth's analysis is often close to the mark, and once in a while he'll break down a play telestrator-style in a new "BackTrack" feature.
College Feel: For the first time in Madden, games with longtime foes will be designated as "Rivalry" matchups, with dialed-up intensity and rivarly-specific commentary from the announcers. So when the Raiders and Broncos play, it will get your blood pumping just a bit faster. Same goes for Cowboys-Redskins, Jets-Dolphins and all of the NFL's other classic rivalries.
Online And Alive: Online leagues support up to 32 players with flex scheduling. Good luck getting everybody to play their games in a timely manner, but it's nice to have that option nonetheless.
Kick At Your Own Risk: Just like in EA Sports' NCAA Football 09 title, you can return missed field goals in Madden. So keep a guy deep in case your opponent's 50-yard attempt comes up short.
Not-So Mighty K.C.: The Dolphins are predictably bad, but if you want a team that you can roll up yards and achievement points against, pick on the Chiefs. If Madden 09 is any indication, this is going to be a loooong season in Kansas City because this team reeks worse than a jockstrap after two-a-days.
Check out this clip of Madden 09 in action:
Things We'd Change
Collector's Item?: Is it worth springing the extra $30 for the the collector's edition for the PS3 or 360? It comes with the 1993 Madden edition, which is nice until you realize that was one of the years they used the annoying "passing windows." The other free title, NFL Head Coach 09, captures the experience of being an NFL coach so well that you quickly realize that is the last job you would actually want.
Call Me Toast: In the Madden Test, the pass defense is pretty much impossible. When the ball goes up and you try to make a play, the game lags and suddenly your cornerback becomes mired in quick sand. The ball goes over your head and you end up with a "Rookie" pass defense rating.
Say What?: EA may still be working out a few glitches. After scoring a touchdown at the Georgia Dome, my receiver disappeared while heading toward the crowd to celebrate. Then there was the touchdown pass I threw that was overruled by instant replay ... but I still got to line up for the extra point and the touchdown counted.
Play It Again, Sam: The "Rewind" button that allows you to take a mulligan on the most recent play is a great idea but it shouldn't prompt you after every play. It should an option in the play calling window instead. The way it's set up now, it slows you down on your way back to calling the next play.
Achievements Lacking: On the 360 version, the achievements are random and not all that satisfying. As far as I can tell this is EA's way of not allowing us to sim our way to achievement points the way many of us have done in past years. Three-hundred yards rushing with the Jets? Seven touchdown passes with the Falcons? Just set the CPU to "Rookie" and you can pile up hundreds of points in no time.
Bottom Line
It's Madden. It's the NFL. You gotta have it. The only reason to stay away from this annual treat is if the game were wretched beyond belief, and that couldn't be further from the truth. It's a very solid football title in its own right and makes significant advancements in what has often appeared to be a stale genre.
Gameplay Graphics Audio Online OVERALL
9 9 9 9 9
More Madden: Wii Review | Madden Covers Gallery | Mattel to Madden| Madden Curse
posted by SI.com | View comments |


the game freeze up whenever your online and try to go into the lobby. what's the deal.
Posted: 10:54 PM, August 12, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Forget EA Sports! They told loyal PC fans to kiss off... God how I would've LOVED to have had the 20th Anniversary edition on the PC... First they squash the competition (2k Football, Front Page Sports) by acquiring exclusive rights to NFLPA rosters, then tell PC users that they don't matter... Well, my family is no longer supporting any of the EA brands...
Posted: 12:05 AM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
the jersey's do not show clearly it very dark U cant see the numbers of the players.
It's got glitches, it's not easy, it's expensive, but it's MADDEN!! BABY!!!! Gotta love it.
Your not missing anything but the game freezing. Really makes me think about staying away from Spore as well.
Posted: 11:25 AM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Regarding the Rewind thing, you just hit "A" (for Xbox) and it skips back to the playcall screen. Not really any different than previous versions.

I didn't have nearly as much trouble on the Pass Defense, but it was was my worst score by a bunch. The biggest problem for me was identifying which guy I was controlling.
Posted: 12:17 PM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Agree wholeheartedly. I don't by EA Sports crap anymore. I'm one of those froze out PC users. EA buys the NFL rights then makes it so there are no NFL games for the pc? Screw them.
Posted: 1:59 PM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
does anyone know if they are going to do a review to add brett favre as a player to the roster on the ps3?
who cares about PC users..... Its 2008. PC's are for Itunes and Fantasy Sports.
Posted: 4:27 PM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
whats up with the defense. Scrolling through the players sucks and everything is dark. When you audible you cant even see what buttons to push. Also - defense control is almost impossible.
Posted: 7:06 PM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
how does the play calling work on madden 09 for the ps3? i am used to calling plays by hitting the button that corresponds to a play. I played 08 on ps3 and it was awful. i went back to the ps2 and the game was great. somebody help me out. is the play calling traditional on madden09 or like ps3 08?
Screw EA! They felt 2K on they're heels so they brought out the NFL rights. Sore losers! That's why 2k basketball kicks NBALives butt! Suckers!
Posted: 10:16 PM, August 13, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
EA has lost their way.

Dropping the PC version is unforgiveable.

I had bought it every year for over 10 years. And played it on a system that has more power and higher resolution than any console.

I miss Front Page Sports.
Posted: 2:07 AM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
the whole madden buying rights to nfl is bs 2k5 was one of the best football games ever u pay 60$ every year for madden and they cant even work out glitches on ps3 and xbox 360 i would think these games would be perfect one of my problms is the sidline all the guys just do repeaditive motions and the crowd is worst this year then ever they look like really bad virtual fighter characters and why cant i run through the tackles w/out getting only 2or 3 yards evry year they try and add somthing new how about just getting the game,field,fans,and sideline right or oh my god i know this is crazy but maybe allowing a little compition you know 2k sports
Posted: 4:58 AM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
screw madden, not buying it ever. bring back espn 2k. NFL made a huge mistake buy letting madden have a legal monopoly.
Posted: 3:34 PM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Madden was never very good. it was always passable as a football game. I would play Tecmo Bowl and ANY of the 2K sports football over Madden any day even on a lessor consol. Plus why is it not on PC format. Isn't a consol just a PC with one spacific job playing games. Geeze you guys are horible and if it wasn't for Fight Night and Tiger Woo I would think your hole company brand is lame and not very good. If your looking for a good sports game try 2k Basketball, baseball and hockey. Even in a pinch if you need a football fix theres always 2k Sports All-Pro Football. Which handels better and has better grafics and is smoother in game play. All those thing (bugs) madden has tried to work out 2k worked em out in NFL2K2
Posted: 7:38 PM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
I think the game is good but The graphics are great on every team Except the Browns Which hapens to be my team and the pass defense is a pain I'm trying to play it on all madden but whenever i get momentum someone fumbles or my game winning drive in the forth the whle team forgets how to catch
Posted: 8:12 PM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
i agree with most of the critism however the glitch that really annoys me is that if you go in to edit a player whilst in franchise when you go out it deletes his draft details.. even if your just trying to change his position.. so frustrating.
you either have to stay with your guy playing out of position or without his draft details.. was also a problem with 08.. sort it out!
Posted: 8:15 PM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Lol! Yea screw using the PC for games. Its not that important right? I mean...i'm using it to type this out for people...its what we use for the internet...it can't be that important
Posted: 8:45 PM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous PEDRO
another disappointing year in madden ='(
the gameplay feel so fake... espciallu right before the hike
i dont know... i just dont like it... stick with 08!!!!!
Posted: 9:01 PM, August 14, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
All i want to know is two ?s Does madden09 gameplay resemble madden08 on ps3 or ps2 and is Bret Favre on the game? because madden08 on ps3 sucked, i had to play ps2 version on ps3. I've been playing madden since it only had 9 teams and the best matchup was the Redskins vs. the Eagles(Randall Cunningham).
Posted: 3:34 PM, August 15, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Why do they go through all these "NEW" features that have been in the game before. They should just make the PS3 version just like the PS2 version.
WOW!!! I just logged on to review the comments and reviews madden 09 and its safe to say that im not buying this game. Ive owned these games since the early 90's and in my opinion ea is trying way to hard. They need to focus on grafics and player control. Rather than gameplay detail. BRING BACK THE FANTASY DRAFT!!!!!!
Posted: 1:27 AM, August 16, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Dont buy this game.. it is horrible. PS2 version is the best and I regret buying 09 for Xbox360. I love football and Madden was always a good game but now you cant even play. Just click and hope that the game lets you get a positive play. This really sucks.. the very last Madden game I will buy.
Posted: 8:48 PM, August 17, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
It would have been nice if the reviewer discussed any improvement between the 09 and 08 versions for PS3. Is the 09 version any better? Seriously, the hurky-jerky motion of 08 and annoyances such as your coach being upset when your team scores or the opponent's coach being happy when your opponent's team screws up are a lot to put up with for an expensive game. Is the 09 better??
Posted: 7:37 PM, August 18, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
I have yet to buy either NCAA 09 or Madden 09 and am proud to say so. I am so throughly disgusted with EA and their lack of thorough Beta testing that I have given up supporting EA anymore. We've endured the Vick pseudo handoff, super human defensive backs, deep lob and the dreaded quicksand glitch but this year we have the WR Direct Snap glitch. Wonderful. Google "Madden 09 WR Snap Glitch" and see for yourself. Once again, amazing beta testing EA and I'm very thankful you hdo not have one thin dime of mine to support your incompetence.
Posted: 12:05 AM, August 19, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
EA sports should be ashamed of themselves for not developing and offering the PC version of 09. To not offer this on the anniversary addition is past pitiful. They should have been proud for all versions to have enjoyed the 09. They have lost my business. Anyway the game was going down hill, anomalies, coaches with split skulls and no arms, same boring commentary, year after year. I remember Front Page Sports, that was a great game. I hope that someone can develop a PC version. Shame on EA.
Posted: 11:35 AM, August 20, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Wait, there's no fantasy draft in the new madden??? That was one of my favorite parts of the game.
Posted: 11:19 PM, August 23, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
hey reviewer, the game doesn't lag when you're doing the madden test for pass defense. it's slowing down to allow you to react. if you can't tell the difference between lagging and slow mo, stop reviewing games.
My biggest complaints are with the changes in Franchise mode - no more setting ticket or merch prices, no more attendance figures or promotion days. You can still do stadium upgrades but there doesn't seem to be any overall cash pool you can try to grow year to year. The Madden IQ feature is great, but the losses are much more than the gain.
Posted: 7:47 PM, September 06, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
I hate this version of Madden. I am not a young "gamer" but I have always enjoyed matching my 50 years of football know-how vrs. the game. With 09 it seems impossible to defend the pass and equally hard to run. To cap it all off the game cheats!!
Posted: 10:49 PM, September 08, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Madden has had glitches in the franchise mode two years in arrow with the loading screen freezing in TRAINING CAMP. And in Madden 2008 it was impossible to finish the fourth season in the franchise mode.
Posted: 3:05 AM, September 09, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
yea right the graphics are solid and it doesn't lag it slows down to let you react and intercept it you fools just suck at a sports game and honestly how many running back in real life football gain 10 yards every play?? thats what i thought none. this game is as real as it gets plus what game doesnt have a glitch u cant make a perfect game haha dumb asses and 2k sucked more haha punks
Posted: 1:34 PM, September 12, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Madden 09, just another joke..
Cant save your profile right, well at least not if you change you playbook, have to reset it every game
Rewind? this isn't golf, there are no "mulligans" in football
Defense, once again 90-99 coners can't cover
Running, I have heard people say they can AFTER you play with sliders, in that case just give me the cheat codes and make all your players unstapable!
This game is set up for passing and passing only, its a joke like the designers who made it.. prolly not 1 watched a game in thier lives! I have 2007 -2009 free to anyone who wants them
Posted: 4:41 PM, September 16, 2008   by Anonymous Anonymous
Does anyone know how to save replays on the xbox360 version. Everytime I go to view highlights it says there is "no replay available for this play". Do I need to be online to do this?
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