One could make a case that EA Sports' Madden series is the true "killer app" of the 128-bit generation. After making its next-generation debut to dropping jaws and raving reviews on PlayStation 2 in 2000, the latest and greatest edition of Madden, Madden NFL 2002, appeared along side the 2001 release of Nintendo GameCube. You will not believe the differences and improvements between GCN Madden and N64 Madden.
Madden NFL 2002 represents an evolution in video game football. At its core, this is still classic Madden, with an ever-growing need to be more realistic. The number of modes and options increase every year, but the game gets better and better at replicating almost every facet of the National Football League, which includes noticeable improvements to the AI. Fortunately, in case you were worried, the GameCube controller does Madden justice. You can do everything you want to do, and it provides the responsive level of control you would expect.
Graphically, though, Madden NFL 2002 is revolutionary. It's breathtaking, crystal clear, incredibly detailed, and super smooth. The between-plays (and instant replay) camera work is astonishing and almost rivals a real broadcast. The players look unbelievable. However, it should be noted that the in-game graphics—when you are actually running an offensive play or when you are defending a play—still follow the classic Madden viewpoint.
The sound got a makeover, too. If you are not familiar with anything other than cartridge-based N64 sports games, you will be shocked when you hear Madden NFL 2002. The sound is a significant step up from the cartridge realm, with high-quality samples and tons of voice. On the other hand, the sound is not vastly improved over CD-based games of the past. Nevertheless, the sound really helps capture the football atmosphere, and this is the last version of Madden to feature Pat Summerall as the play-by-play announcer.
In short, Madden NFL 2002 is the epitome of NFL football games. No other game packages everything—graphics, sound, control, realism, artificial intelligence, gameplay, options, etc.—so well. Compared to its cousin on PlayStation 2, the GameCube incarnation runs perfectly at 60 fps, contains shorter loading times, and includes subtle graphical improvements. You absolutely must own this game. It is a ton of fun.