John Madden Football II. (computer game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Clayton Walnum
If you're a computer football fan, you've been spoiled lately. Whether you prefer arcade-style or strategic football, software shelves host several excellent games from which to choose.
That choice just became a little tougher, though, with the release of Electronic Arts' John Madden Football II.
John Madden Football II, like most other games of its type, offers several play modes. From the main screen, you can choose to play a quick game, play a standard game, resume a previously saved game, or practice plays. If you choose to play a game-either quick or standard-the game setup screen appears. Here, you can change the weather, the length of a quarter, and the game playing speed, as well as toggle such options as fatigue, injuries, penalties, and the 45-second clock.
In a quick game, after the game setup screen, you needn't bother with choosing teams and playbooks, or even setting up game-save directories. Rather, you jump right onto the field, ready to test your moves against those of your opponent. Quick games play much like.standard games, but with limited playbooks and some options, like game saves, unavailable.
The standard game, OR the other hand, is your passport to the full simulation. After the game setup screen, you choose the visiting and home teams. Then, you select the teams' playbooks, set the teams' playing abilities, choose home-field conditions (the conditions under which the team is used to playing), and set the coaching style (which controls the balance of running plays and passing plays). Then it's onto the field, where, unlike in the quick game, you have full access to the plays in the chosen playbooks. (If you find the number of available plays overwhelming, John Madden is happy to narrow things down to a few good choices. All you have to do is ask.)
When the game begins, you select your play, and then the teams line up on the scrimmage line to battle it out. If you like, when the action begins, you can control the player with the ball, directing his run or guiding the pass. However, the arcade elements of the game are limited to a few simple moves. Where John Madden Football II shines is on the strategic side of the sport. You'll probably find yourself just picking the plays and watching the teams run them.
And speaking of the plays, John Madden Football II offers extensive opportunities for the computer coach with his eye on victory. The game includes two defensive playbooks and one offensive playbook, each of which offers more than 80 ready-to-run plays. And if you can't find the plays you need in the supplied playbooks, you can always create your own playbook with the program's Chalkboard. Here, you select various starting formations, and, using chalkboardlike tools, modify them by moving players, assigning tasks and routes, changing the types of players, and more.
Unfortunately, while John Madden Football 11 offers a fairly complete strategic football simulation, the graphics are less than state-of-the-art. The players are blocky figures that scurry about the field like characters in a cutrate Saturday morning cartoon. Because of this lack of graphical detail, plays are often hard to follow.
Still, if you're fascinated by this rough-and-tumble sport's strategic side, John Madden Football 11 comes through. Besides having the power provided by the large playbooks, you can compare players head to head, view team rosters and statistics screens, test individual plays, construct your own playbooks, and analyze plays with the Vcr-like replay feature.
The game's mediocre graphics keep it from tackling all the competition, but it's still a worthy contender for your software dollars.
IBM PC or compatible (80286 compatible, 16-MHz 80386 or faster recommended), 640K RAM, EGA or VGA, hard drive; supports Ad Lib, Sound Blaster, Roland, Covox, and Tandy sound--$49.95
ELECTRONIC ARTS 1450 Fashion Island Blvd. San Mateo, CA 94404 (415) 572-ARTS
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