The flaws in the passing and running game prevent Madden 2001 from being completely enjoyable or realistic.
The exciting 1999-2000 NFL football season came and went. Steve Young played the final game in his illustrious NFL football career, Barry Sanders retired from the Detroit Lions, and the Rams unexpectedly won the Super Bowl. Now the start of the 2000-2001 season is imminent, and with it comes the latest in EA Sports' Madden NFL football series, Madden NFL 2001. But compared with the 1999-2000 NFL season, Madden NFL 2001 fails to generate as much excitement or deliver as many surprises.
The most apparent and much-needed change to the Madden series featured in Madden 2001 is the improved graphics. Madden 2001 uses player models that are significantly more detailed than those found in last year's game. Linemen now have sizable jiggling stomachs, linebackers are muscular brutes, and wide receivers are lanky. The players' facial features are now clearly visible, and some of the real-life players' faces are in the game. You'll also notice other minor details, such as reflective helmets. These details on the new player models are welcome additions, though Madden 2001 doesn't give you much of a chance to admire them unless there's a replay or a touchdown celebration.
The stadiums also look somewhat better than before because of the crisper textures and less pixelated fields. However, Madden 2001's upgraded visuals don't come without a price. Though it ran quickly on GameSpot's primary Pentium III test system, those with slower computers will have a difficult time getting a consistently smooth frame rate out of Madden 2001.
Unfortunately, there really isn't any new animation to complement Madden 2001's new visuals. The motion-captured jukes, tackles, first-down taunts, and back-foot passes are all taken from Madden 2000, and they seem out of place in Madden 2001.
The in-game commentary is equally disappointing. Pat Summerall does a fine job of throwing in some generic play-by-play lines interspersed with a few specific observations, but John Madden is nearly nonexistent. In a five-minute-quarter game, John Madden spoke only a few times. His lack of participation leaves much to be desired if you're a fan of John Madden's unique anecdotes and observations.
But the real appeal of the Madden series has always been its gameplay. In this respect, Madden 2001 is very similar to its predecessor. You can still choose from all the standard formations like pro-form, shotgun, and the weak or strong I, but with the addition of actual coaches and their playbooks, some teams won't have access to certain formations unless you change or edit the coach's playbook to accommodate the formations you prefer. As in Madden 2000, most formations in 2001 offer a number of different sets, so you have access to a wider array of plays within each different formation. It's not really new, but the user interface for play calling is still easy to use.
The running game in the Madden series has vastly improved over the past few years, and apparently an effort was made to refine it even further in Madden 2001 - but a few major problems prevent it from being completely successful. Thanks to the improved computer-controlled blocking on the offensive line, it's much easier to get to holes in the line or to recognize when a hole won't be available, thus forcing you to look for an alternate path to gain extra yardage. Unfortunately, there are situations that require you to get your running back through a nearly collapsed hole in the offensive line, only to find that he gets caught on a lineman and can't run in any direction if a new hole opens or a better route is made available. This wouldn't be a problem if linemen surrounded you on every side or you were attempting to push forward through the line, but it becomes very frustrating when you're trying to avoid a quickly collapsing hole and you're in a small-yardage situation.
Madden 2001's running game also suffers from some serious control issues. The difficulty of making a cut upfield without the use of the juke button is nearly unbearable on halfback toss or a similar play. When you call a halfback toss and you see that your receiver has the cornerback blocked on the inside, you want to be able to make the cut upfield to avoid the corner and beat the linebacker to the gap. It's just too hard to perform the maneuver quickly enough, so your running back will either run into his own receiver or get tackled by a linebacker as a result.
- Player Reviews: 4
- Game Universe:
- Madden NFL 2004 (PS, GC, GBA, PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Madden NFL 2000 (PC, GBC, N64, PS, MAC),
- Madden NFL 2001 (PS2, PS, GBC, N64, PC),
- Madden NFL 97 (PC, PS, GEN, SAT, GB, SNES),
- Madden NFL 98 (PC, PS, GEN, SNES, SAT),
- Madden NFL 99 (PC, N64, PS),
- Madden NFL '94 (GEN, SNES),
- Madden NFL 95 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES),
- Madden NFL 96 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES, PC, PS),
- Madden NFL 2002 (PS2, GC, PC, PS, N64, XBOX, GBC, GBA)
- Number of Players: