March Madness 2002 PS2
Review by Matt Paprocki EA Sports Sports
Graphics: 6 Sound: 7 Gameplay: 4 Overall: 4

It's almost amazing what EA Sports can put out on the shelves these days. Granted, Madden is probably still the deepest football game ever created, but their other sports games have been lacking as of late. One of the biggest letdowns over the past few years had been the NBA Live series which has been completely trampled by Sega's 2K games. This year marks the first edition of March Madness on the PS2 and alot has changed from the NBA version of the game.....none of it for the better.

The first glaring flaw in the game is a complete lack of a dynasty mode. This is bad enough, but remove the season mode, and your left with a game that collects more dust than a rag soaked in Pledge. Every other EA Sports games this year has featured a dynasty mode and of course the obligatory season mode, so why not this one? The only thing for a solo player to do is the 64 team tourney and exhibition games. Nope, there's not even a practice mode. This descision kills any opportunity EA had to make this game great.

Playing around with the rest of the menu options brings players to a nifty new feature, the ability to build a team/school from scratch. This is a highly detailed system that allows players to pick their dream teams logos, fight song, and even the look of the coach. This almost makes up for the glaring lack of teams in the game (this number has been cut in half since the last game on the PS1), but there is no replacement for the real thing.  

Once out of the menu system, the real game begins and things get even worse. The gameplay has barely been touched since the '97 incarnation of the game, with only a few barely usable moves tossed into the game. Players glide around the court like on ice unless you post up down low and even then it's easy to push players out of the way. Performing a cross-over or other "special move" EA has added could easily take your player uncrontrollably out of bounds which logicaly hurts the game in more ways than one. Definite improvment is needed if EA wants to survie the onslaught of Sega Sports.

Looking at the game's still-pics on the back of the box makes the game look great with excellent player models and facial expressions. It's when the players start moving that things go haywire. The running animation is downright hysterical, transition animations are nowhere to be found, and even a few dunks that should be spectacular fall apart due to collision detection problems. You simply have to laugh when your player magically gets cut in half by the backboard and his wrists dissapear on the rim and somehow still puts the ball through the net. Give 'em some credit however, the benches feature the coach and the benched players with uncanny realism.

The sound is definitely the high point with tons of theme songs and crowd chants. Coaches yell at players on the floor and trash talk can be heard constantly throughout the game. Of course, as with the rest of the game, something had to go wrong in this category too. Turning off the play-by-play is definitely recommended as the few quotes that have been put on the disc hardly add up to a quality TV-like experience.

It simply amazes me as year after year, EA's games are the top sellers for months at a time. With the exception of their football franchises, the rest of their lineup is simply repackaged and a new year is put on the box. The fact that this game doesn't even include a season mode shows a complete lack of dedication and tarnishes EA's name. It's going to take alot of work to bring this game up to par by next year.


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Last updated: Thursday, December 04, 2003 01:18 PM