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'Madden NFL 2004' tackles the competition

By Josh Zelman
CNN Headline News

'Madden NFL 2004'

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For more video gaming news and reviews, tune in to CNN Headline News every Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET when Erica Hill goes "Big Video Game Hunting."

(CNN) -- Are you anxiously sitting around waiting for the best football game of the season? If so, stop.

Bryan Intihar, associate editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly, tells me your answer has already arrived and it's packaged in the form of "Madden NFL 2004."

In its 14th year, "Madden NFL" is the go-to veteran of football gaming, becoming the leader in its field by adding new innovations to its arsenal of options.

For instance, in "2004" the playmaker control feature allows gamers to redirect blockers while their runner has the ball and is heading for pay dirt. Also, in owner mode, gamers have control of everything from setting prices at the concession stands to keeping or casting off coaches.

"Madden NFL 2004" offers plenty of complex situations, and unfortunately covering receivers in the secondary is one of them. That's one of the two areas Intihar feels could use a little improvement. The other ... well, it's the energetic John Madden's gaming alter ego.

Madden may be the best at describing play-by-play action on any given Sunday, but Intihar feels his trademark animation doesn't reach the same intensity when describing the gridiron action going on in his own game.

Despite these minor dents, "Madden NFL 2004" is currently on display in Canton, Ohio. If it's good enough for The NFL Hall of Fame, there's a good chance it's good enough for you.

It's available for PlayStation, PS2, Xbox, GameCube, Game Boy Advance and for PCs.

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