''For the first time in a long time, I'm happy to report a noticeable difference in the visual quality of EA Sports' long-running footballer, Madden NFL 09. The player models look absolutely outstanding this year, even on my nearly 15-year old television. True to form, the environmental aspect of the game offers a whole lot of eye candy as well. Playing in the rain, for example, will become a grimy Mud Bowl soon enough, even making it difficult to distinguish between the players from the two teams on the field because of the filthy uniforms that it produces. In fact, it made me bust out laughing when some fresh blood came in with a spotless uniform, reminding me of my freshman year of high school, I suppose. Yes, I was the kid in white.
Amazingly enough, I also didn't find the on-screen text to be extremely difficult to read as I have in past games (and other EA games that almost force you to play on an HDTV), and I can generally read it from a distance. The on-screen presentation of each game is equally visually pleasing, with an outside look at each stadium and fireworks to kick off each game. The Training Center offers X-rayed players, and while a bit gimmicky, it still offers a fresh look at this new feature (see Gameplay below).
On the field, you'll also be treated to subtle comments that follow the action, according to your teammates or the opponent... a nice touch of polish. Unfortunately, however, I missed the commentary in some of the games, as Cris Collinsworth and Tom Hammond were nowhere to be seen (depending on the game/mode). When they were on the sidelines they had good play-by-play, and even better color commentary, yet I somehow strangely miss the namesake of the game, John Madden, calling the action. I know, I can't believe that I said that either, but he does offer a familiar face/voice once in a while to break things up. One of the coolest subtleties of Madden 09 came from the PA announcer, in fact, as he called my name during recaps between plays. This added greatly to the realism that was lacking during the times when "player 1" or your created player's number would be called instead in previous titles. Kudos goes out to Tiburon for a presentation well done.''