Madden NFL 09
Madden NFL 09 for PSP isn't as feature-packed as the console editions, but it scores with fun on the gridiron action.
Portable football games are never as feature packed as their console counterparts, but that doesn't mean we give their creators a free pass. Madden NFL 09 for PSP, from EA Sports, is a fun game of football that lets you satisfy your inner quarterback, but it lacks numerous modes and production values from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions.
Madden NFL 09 for Xbox 360 has this futuristic and Tron-inspired Madden Test, a Prince of Persia like rewind feature that lets you redo botched plays, a EA Backtrack telestrator that points out how much you suck and 32-person online leagues, all of which are absent from Madden PSP. Instead, you get two unique control schemes, Superstar Challenge, Franchise Mode and Mini-Camp games, enough to keep you busy, but a far cry from what you'll see on the more advanced machines.
First, you have the Rookie and Advanced control schemes, designed for both newcomers and Madden vets. Rookie lets you score big plays without the hassle of memorizing the more complex controls, so all you need to worry about is maneuvering your chosen player with the analog stick and pressing X, which controls both passing and tackling. Hitting people with it is fine, but throwing the ball is a bit frustrating because the game automatically sends it to the most wide open receiver instead of who you may want it to go to, so you're stuck with whatever decision the computer makes. We much prefer the Advanced controls, where we press the face buttons and triggers to perform different moves and throw to specified receivers.
Next up is Superstar Challenge, which bears a resemblance to the console versions' Madden Moments. They're a series of memorable games from last season, broken into tiers that let you relive history. This includes leading the Giants to their amazing Super Bowl victory over the Patriots and even cover athlete Brett Favre's sweet overtime win against the Broncos. They're tough and fun to play, though we wish EA included ones from decades ago.
In addition, you have Franchise Mode (create a dynasty by managing the draft, trades and the season) and Mini-Camp, which allows you to improve your skills by completing a series of games, either alone or against other players. Finally, there's multiplayer via Ad Hoc or through Infrastructure, so unless nobody buys Madden PSP, you should be able to get a game.
For us, we'd rather see something different, a bunch of innovative modes that set the PSP Madden apart from the rest, and unfortunately, Rookie controls aren't enough. This is where EA needs to deliver a story mode or some sort of trivia game, something exciting we can't find anyplace else. Sure, Madden NFL 09 plays good (that's expected), but it feels too similar to Madden games of old and like a $39.99 roster update. For that kind of cash, we need more enticing content. However, if all you want is a cool football game to play in transit, this year's Madden is a neat, pint-sized version of its big brother.
What's Hot: Same old Madden game you know and love, Franchise mode and online play.
What's Not: Same old Madden, Superstar Challenge isn't very fulfilling, Rookie controls aren't as good as Advanced, lacks numerous features from the console versions.