Spittin’ Game

Madden NFL 09
(EA Sports)
Playstation 3

Considering EA’s exclusive licensing deal with the NFL, reviewing Madden is nearly pointless these days. You can’t control the real pro players and teams any other way, so Madden couldn’t extort 60 bucks from you any more blatantly if Captain Obvious himself threatened to squash you with his pasty, turducken-bloated ass. The game’s only real competitor, in fact, is the glut of used Madden 08s currently flooding game stores. Opt for the upgrade, though. 09 is faster, prettier, and more playable than its predecessor. Touted new features — a Madden IQ test determining your custom difficulty level, a new “rewind function” allowing you a preset number of Mulligans per game, and commentary by Cris Collinsworth — are a mixed bag, though. The custom difficulty, for example, is accurate to the point of turning many bouts with the computer into low-scoring attrition wars, and Collinsworth’s color beats Madden’s, but the limited number of phrases here rivals Joe Montana Sports Talk Football.

$5-10 (used)

Grabbing a copy of the 360-backward-compatible Psychonauts for less than $10 is worth a dig through the game-store bargain bin. This adventure platformer may be the best game (as in ever) in the genre. Play as Raz — an adolescent discovering his budding psychic powers at a secret government-run summer camp — in a storyline creative and funny enough to’ve been penned by Monkey Island-creator Tim Schafer, which it was. Solve puzzles using your unique abilities — levitating, -kenesis both tele- and
pyro- — or just roll around the campsite on a Segway made of mental energy. But the main
attraction is the innovative mind-reading function. Apply a stick-on door directly to the forehead to access the private thoughts and feelings of other characters. Clear out mental cobwebs, sort emotional baggage, and battle mutant psychoses. If real psychology were this much fun, you’d stop avoiding those court-ordered therapy sessions.

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