Madden NFL 97
Review by Al Giovetti
Price: $60
Genre: sports simulation
Release: October, 1996
Developer: Stormfront Studios
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Phone: 800-245-4525
Requirements: Pentium, 60 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 2X CD-ROM, 1 MB SVGA VESA PCI video card

History: Last year Madden 96 hit the scrap heap with a lot of disgruntled and disappointed fans demanding their Madden game. Past Madden hits made the fans madder than usual.

Plot: What is the plot in a sports game? Ah they are the opposing team and we beat them? Yep, that's it Bubba.

Game play: The strong suit of this game is the game play. The statistics, playbooks and simple keyboard control of the entire team make this product a unique standout. A new feature, "Madden University" will teach the refined arts of crushing your opponent on the field with offensive an defensive plays executed in choreographed precision.

Interface: You control the teams with precise selection of ball carrier, indicated by a yellow cross under the ball carrier. Supports a variety of input devices of which the digital game pad is much preferred by players.

Teams and statistics: More than 100 teams with real players, their statistics. You can sort the stats almost any way you would like, and you can view the real stats next to those you generate with the game. Stats include 30 NFL francises and players, historic teams including 68 past Super Bowl teams and all time great teams. Madden has licenses from the NFL and Players Inc with stats by STATS Inc.

Modes: Play one exhibition game, a season based on the 1997 NFL schedule, and the Pro Bowl mode which selects teams according to the performance in the season.

Artificial intelligence: The computer AI adjusts to your plays. It notices the weakness in prior plays and anticipates making the perfect compensation to your play. You must vary play in order to succeed.

Playbook: More than 500 plays. One of the things that makes football an elegant strategy game is the playbook. The playbook allows you to set up plays and formations with the mouse and options menus. There are 114 basic offensive plays and 72 basic defensive plays. You really need to memorize the playbook to get the pass plays right.

Views: Multiple views give good control and understanding. The dynamic camera allows for zoom and panning. Fixed cameras would give you less understnating of the game.

Graphics: Amazing graphics show fluid animation, multiple colored stripped pants and jersies, jersey numbers, two color socks, helmet emblems, and other details to numerous tom mention. The game looks good. The players are the correct size for the playing field, yes even the refrigerator. Shadows really make you feel like you are there. All the stadiums look the same.

Animation: Rotoscoped players using motion capture of real NFL players provide realistic animation and antics for simulation of real play.

Voice actors: Pat Summerall calls the play by play, Leslie Visser gives us the injury reports, and John Madden provides advice and a full motion video section to teach you the basics of the game.

Music score:

Sound effects: Grunts, and slapping of gear.

Utilities: There is no four button joystick support. Other control options center on passing. Each receiver should have a designated keyboard button to throw to rather than cycling through receivers with the B key and passing with the A key. It just takes too long

Multi-player: Two player mode uses any combination of joysticks and the keyboard, but now supports head-to-head via phone and null modem and through IPX network support. I really have a hankering for eight player head to head and cooperative through network and internet which would allow multiple players to control individual players on the field. EA's Website should have a place to find other modem players.

In multiplayer mode there are two choices rather than the normal three. You can chat and check stats but you cannot rematch without rebooting and dialing again. This is troublesome.

Glenn Broderick, Computer Player, volume 3, number 5, October, 1996, pg. 58.
Jeff Tschiltsch, Computer Player, volume 3, number 7, December, 1996, pg. 84, (90%).
Willem Knibbe, PC Games, volume 3, number 12, December, 1996, pg. 153, 82%.