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EA SPORTS best-selling football franchise marks its 14th year in the industry with the release of Madden NFL 2004. A more in-depth Franchise Mode, improved commentary, enhanced control options, and revamped graphics are just a few of the new features offered to PlayStation 2 owners. Animations have expanded to include stumbles, more fluid quarterback scrambles, and open-field blocks, while transition sequences include dynamic player reactions and split-screen replays. The most noteworthy improvements to the series are in the Franchise Mode and control while on the field.
Franchise Mode now features mini-camp drills to improve an athlete's skills in the off-season as well as signing bonuses and trade offers from computer teams. Would-be owners can move their team to a new city as well as set concession stand prices, merchandising, and parking fees in an attempt to turn a profit. Players can even build their own stadium from the ground-up, determining where the luxury box seats will go, the position of scoreboards, even the location of tunnels leading to the locker rooms. Also included is the ability to assemble a coaching staff, and at the end of each game, John Madden awards his "Horse Trailer Player of the Game" as seen on Monday Night Football.
Madden NFL 2004 gives players more flexibility on the field with the addition of on-the-fly controls bound to the right analog stick. At the line of scrimmage, players can change defensive formations, switch wide receiver routes, or call a different play. When the ball is snapped, the right stick can be used to call out blocks, lead receivers, and put defenders in a better position to make an interception. While players guide their team to victory, they'll listen to new commentary from Madden, Al Michaels, and Melissa Stark. Commentary is focused on more in-depth analysis and highlighting situation-specific events, including rivalries, blowouts, overtime, and halftime updates.
The only console version to feature Internet play, Madden NFL 2004 for PlayStation 2 lets players participate in special online tournaments and receive a ranking designed to discourage opponents from bailing out of games already in progress. Other online features include a Fair Play system, which locks specific rules and settings before each game, and support for the EA Messenger, a system that saves lists of friends for use with the rest of EA SPORTS' lineup on PlayStation 2. Those owning a broadband connection will also be able to chat in real time on any USB headset. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide