Large men wearing outlandish body armour, moments of balletic grace interspersed with flashes of cringe-worthy violence, and a whipped-up crowd baying for blood. No, we're not talking about the recently re-launched Gladiators TV show. We're talking football of the American variety.
For most of us born outside the borders of the US of A, this sport will likely only ever stray into our sphere of thinking around the time of the Super Bowl or, more likely, when an NFL showpiece event tears up the Wembley pitch and wrecks any hopes we had of a decent cup final.
For those of you who dig all things gridiron, though, the anticipation of a new Madden game has become an annual ritual of expectation. What will EA add this year? Will it be a radical rethink of the control system, a complete overhaul of the game engine, or merely an updated player roster and a few extra play modes? With Madden NFL 09, the answer is the latter.