SAN FRANCISCO (01/25/2000) - Hell has frozen over. Those of you who doubt this assertion need only look to the shelves of your local Macintosh software dealer for proof. There you'll find copies of Aspyr Media Inc.'s Madden NFL 2000-the kind of major sports title that many claimed would arrive in a Mac-compatible version only when hailstorms came to Hades. While Madden is an attractive and rich football simulation, it may prove frustrating to all but the most die-hard players, thanks to an obtuse interface and sparse documentation.
Is your favorite NFL team in the cellar? Lead its Madden NFL 2000 equivalent to victory.
It's a shame that the interface is so convoluted, because the game itself is an impressive piece of work. You can tackle the gridiron in a number of ways. For quick, in-your-face action, choose Arcade mode, where you can select from a limited arsenal of plays and the players' moves are unrealistically exaggerated. Other modes offer more-realistic play and an expanded playbook.
For example, in Exhibition you choose a couple of teams to compete in a single game; in Season your team plays the 16 regular season games; and in Franchise you control the workings of a team for up to 30 seasons. Practice mode is the perfect place to hone particular plays.
Those who've played sports games on a Sony PlayStation will quickly feel at home with Madden. In a move typical of console games, Madden lets you control the ball carrier if you're on offense or integral defensive players if your opponent has the ball. For example, after you've chosen from a variety of plays, you can control the quarterback's movements, as well as when and where he throws the ball. Like a console game, Madden was designed for play with a game pad-if you don't have one, get it in a hurry so you can compete in the Madden Super Bowl.
Madden is nearly infinitely configurable. Within the Customize AI dialog box, for instance, you can tweak the aggressiveness of your offensive and defensive plays, the accuracy of your quarterback's passes and wide receivers' catches, and the overall ability of your running backs. You can also control weather conditions, rosters, and the likelihood that certain penalties will be called.
Unfortunately, configuring the game is far too complicated. Game options are scattered throughout numerous dialog boxes and the manual provides limited guidance. This may be fine for players who've been playing the PC version of Madden for nearly a decade, but Mac players, likely new to the game, could use more help than the terse manual and Read Me file provide.
Macworld's Buying Advice
Despite its maddening interface and manual, Madden NFL 2000's amazing depth and varied game play make it a must-have for any pigskin-loving Mac gamer.
RATING: 4.0 mice
PROS: Varied ways to play; highly customizable.
CONS: Confounding interface; slim manual.
COMPANY: Aspyr Media (888/212-7797, http://www.aspyr.com).
LIST PRICE: $50.