This title is an odd one. There are improvements from the previous years
incarnation however there is not enough new to make me sit up and really pay
attention. I almost feel bad saying it as there is definite improvement,
however video games and the people who buy them do not have the time, patience
or money to throw their lot in with just an improvement. The Madden series
every year has the wow factor and just keeps getting better which is amazing
when you consider that it is nigh on perfect in the first place.
The main thing that can be said in favour
of this version is the innovations that were brought to the table with XBox
Live. The online experience is a lot of fun and the ability to interact with
other players goes an awful long way toward making up for the overall
unsatisfactory gameplay. I can't figure out why but it seems that the whole
game is in slow motion, as though the machine can't calculate what's happening
on the screen so it has to lag whilst it figures out what to do. Then when
that is done, the game lurches forward again to make up for the pause and goes
a tad too fast.
It seems that the physics on the game are a
bit out of whack as they were to an extent last year. Players seem to be
running in jelly onscreen and the ball must weigh a lot less than it does in
real life. Catches are made that you didn't get the player to perform and
moves are enacted without a lot of player input either.
Graphically this title will impress as you
can see from the screenshots. Images are crisp and clear and the attention to
detail is wonderful. From the stadiums to the players and even the pitch
itself, Fever 2004 has upped the ante from it's effort of last year with
excellent results. It's just the way that all this eye candy interacts with
both itself and the player that leaves a bit to be desired.
Audio in the title is nice and there is
nothing really to complain about within the title in regards to this. In game
sounds are what you would expect and the commentary is a bit stilted, not
really convincing enough to make players think that they are somehow
participating in a real game of Football.
I do think that it's a shame that this
title didn't offer more than the 2003 version, however last year was the first
year of the XBox and we were prone to be a bit more forgiving as developers
came to terms with programming for the console. This year though, I did expect
a lot more and unfortunately it did not occur as I would have hoped.