There is so much happening on the field that it borders on obnoxious. After you call one of the hundred or so available plays based upon dozens of personnel packages, you can put players in motion, call hot routes, shift line coverages, even take on the lead blocker. Then - and only then - you hike the ball. Defensive pre-snap tweaks are even more pronounced, including the ability to adjust any individual player's assignments based on what you see on the other side of the line. Little of this is new, of course, but it still amazes us every year how far along these games have come. If you don't know NFL football, you don't know Madden.
The biggest on-field additionis the Weapons feature, a nifty little option that makes it easy to spot mismatches and exploit or avoid them. Icons appear under certain players to let you know who the top guns are on either side of the ball. Got a fleet-footed slot receiver matched up against a lead-footed, run-stopping linebacker? Time to hit a hot route down the field and light up the defense for six. Suppose you spot your wideout covered by a lock-down cornerback? Better avoid throwing to that side of the field, unless tossing an interception is part of your game plan.
The Xbox version sports crisper visuals and faster load times than the PS2 title. Our main gripe is still a lack of a real celebration when we win the Super Bowl. There should be a ten-minute montage celebrating our awesomeness, topped off by a ticker tape parade. What do we get? Thirty seconds of players celebrating and a "Congratulations" message. Blecch!