In Play: 'NCAA Football 2004' and 'Madden NFL Football 2004'

EA Sports has truly outdone itself with this year's installments of Madden 2004 and NCAA Football 2004, with each game taking its respective franchise to the next level. College football is known for its wide-open and exciting play, and NCAA 2004 mirrors it. The graphics are beautiful and amazingly realistic. Whether running Cedric Benson up the middle, tossing deep to Roy Williams, or running the option with Vincent Young, you are 100% immersed in the game (and will hopefully fare better than sad sack Mack Brown). NCAA 2004 includes 36 new 1-AA teams and more than 100 classic teams, as well as an improved dynasty mode and the requisite online play. The improved dynasty mode gives armchair athletic directors more power to recruit for and build up their school's program and prestige. All of this adds up to one of the best (if not the best) video football games ever.

Pro football might not be as exciting to watch as the college game, but Madden 2004 definitely delivers the goods with new features, better graphics, and ultrarealistic gameplay. Michael Vick is an excellent choice for coverboy, as this game is as much fun to play as Vick is to watch, and controlling one of the new-school quarterbacks (Vick, Donovan McNabb, or Aaron Brooks) is definitely where it's at. Madden '04 also has an improved franchise mode, complete with an owner's box where you can control all aspects of your franchise down to the cost of beer and how much to charge for valet parking. Truly inspired. The new "playmaker" control allows you to have even more control of the game: players off of the ball, receiver routes, downfield blocker directions, running backs' split-second hole choices, and more. All of this, plus bumpin' joints from the likes of the Roots, Joe Budden, OutKast, and locals Ünloco, make this an unassailable fall classic.

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vince young, cedric benson, roy williams, outkast

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