A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that there's no inappropriate content in this video game – unless you consider professional football too violent a sport. While some sports games have a soundtrack with off-color lyrics, this game doesn't. Parents will welcome the new adaptive features that help set the skill level at an appropriate level so that all players can have a positive experience.
What's it about?
Are you ready for some football? Twenty years and 70 million units later, EA Sports' popular Madden NFL series is now celebrating a milestone anniversary. Available for multiple platforms, MADDEN NFL 09's slick production values are what jumps out at you when booting up the game for the first time – namely, the high-definition graphics, adrenaline-pumping soundtrack, and a wealth of options available from the animated main menu.
But before you tackle any of the solo or multiplayer modes, you might want to try out the new features that help set your skill level, to ensure a gratifying game-play experience. This includes Madden Test, a collection of holographic drills and minigames that determine your "Madden IQ" in four key areas (rushing, passing, rush defense, and pass defense) and My Skill, a custom skill setting you can select prior to each game instead of general difficulty options such as "rookie" or "all-pro."
Is it any good?
In the Xbox 360 version, the game feels as good as it looks with tight and responsive buttons. As with the previous year's version, the "weapons" system is back, special skills assigned to elite players in the league to reinforce what makes them great. For example, when activated, Ladainian Tomlinson becomes a truck who plows through defenders, whereas a Smart QB, like Peyton Manning, can read the field and expose players who simply stick to their money plays. If you make a mistake on the field, though, you can pull a mulligan by "rewinding" the play like a DVR and trying again (or turn off this feature altogether). On a related note, along with the broadcast-like presentation with play-by-play and color commentary by Cris Collinsworth and Tom Hammond, Collinsworth can also tell you where a bad move went wrong and how to "tackle" the action the next time around.
When it comes to game-play, number of modes (including the ability to create online leagues with up to 32 teams), and presentation quality, Madden NFL 09 is arguably the finest football game in the franchise's 20-year history.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.