While fans of last year's PlayStation Madden game may initially have a hard time noticing the differences between that game and the new Madden 2002, this latest installment deserves credit for being the best football game to date on the PlayStation. Featuring great additions like the Madden classic mode, which lets you play the game in a 16-bit style, you'll find that even if you own last year's version, there's still good reason to get what could be the last version of Madden football we see on the PlayStation.
One of the coolest extra features that has ever been included in a Madden game is in Madden 2002, which is the Madden classic mode. This mode lets you play Madden 2002 as though it were running on the16-bit Sega Genesis. The mode has all the current teams and rosters--but it plays and looks like the classic Madden '92. It's an incredible extra that makes you feel almost as if you're getting a whole other game for free. Another new addition in Madden 2002 is a mulligan feature that lets you take another shot at any play you'd like. For instance, say the game is tied, and you're only 10 yards away from the end zone, with 15 seconds left on the clock. You go for the touchdown but realize that it was a mistake as your receiver drops the pass. Now, you can simply take a mulligan and try it again.
Madden 2002 of course comes with all the features and options you've come to expect from the series, including all the current NFL teams, players, and stadiums. The game also once again features the Madden cards, which now even feature cheerleaders. These digital trading cards are unlocked by completing Madden challenges during a game. These Madden challenges are specific objectives that you can try to complete--tasks like throwing five consecutive passes in a game or running for more than 200 yards with one player. These challenges add a bit of extra fun and depth to what is already a very deep game.
Controlling Madden 2002 is very enjoyable, since the game strikes a good balance between delivering true-to-life physics and just being responsive. You can pretty much get a quick running back to go wherever you want him to, when you want him to. The game's controls are extremely responsive, even in comparison with its PS2 counterpart. Otherwise, the artificial intelligence of the defensive backs and line has been tweaked a bit since last year. Defenders can simply get beat and linemen are now more accurate, both of which help add a better sense of realism to the game. You'll have to identify mismatches in the game and substitute people in and out accordingly.
Visually, Madden 2002 is as good as football is going to look on the PlayStation. However, the graphics really aren't that different from last year's game. The player models are a bit blocky, but smooth and realistic animations make up for the lack of polygons. The various tackling animations are once again the most notable, as they include everything from shoestrings to one-man drag-downs. The animation of the players executing their various moves, such as catching, throwing, and running, are all very realistic as well. The game's broadcast-style camera angles and commentary from Pat Summerall and John Madden round out what is a very-well-done presentation.
So while Madden 2002 isn't reinventing football on the PlayStation, it is really the best you're going to get on the system. Arguably, it can even provide a more enjoyable experience than its big brother on the PlayStation 2. In any event, Madden 2002 for the PlayStation is a wonderful re-creation of a sport that controls well and has almost just as many bells and whistles as its PlayStation 2 counterpart. But most importantly, the game is just superfun to play.