Few, if any, games translate from a console to a portable like Madden football does onto the PSP. For years now, the NFL juggernaut hasn’t felt gimped on Sony’s handheld machine; in fact, it’s eerily close to the PS2 version in all of the most important ways. What’s more, this season’s portable Madden actually surpasses its PS2 cousin. For the first time we can remember, we’d rather throw down on the small screen than on the big one (360 and PS3 editions notwithstanding).
As it has been for years now, the on-field action is solid and familiar. However, there is one significant change that piqued our interest - the defensive camera is flipped, forcing you to view and react to the action from an angle that feels distinctly strange (even though you’ve been playing that way on offense for a couple of decades now). It’s an interesting twist, and while it doesn’t revolutionize the often desultory task of playing defense, it definitely livens things up. Other than that, Madden is a typical day at the office; for the uninitiated, this means solid controls, smooth action, and deep options.
Unfortunately, there’re plenty of other familiarities we could’ve easily done without. Watching the same recycled pre- and post-game animations for God knows how long now is getting really annoying, while the commentary provided by Al Michaels and John Madden seems like it hasn’t been updated since the Cowboys’ last playoff victory (not that we’re counting, but that goes back more than ten years).
Game modes also remain as they were last year, including the obligatory Franchise mode, online play, and Madden moments. Again, it’s a healthy recipe for a solid pigskin title, but there aren’t any new game types this season, and that’s disappointing. While we’re not exactly the biggest fans of the Superstar mode, it would make sense for a variant of it to at least make an appearance on a portable title.
Madden and PSP have gone together beautifully for years now, and for better or worse this season is no different. It’s getting harder and harder to ask for any significant modifications to the Madden formula; we have a feeling that even if we did, we’d be disappointed with the response. As it is, anyone with a penchant for the virtual gridiron will likely feel right at home again in 2009. So long as you’re not looking for anything too different, that’s likely a very good thing.
Aug 20, 2008