September 05, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

Meet the hardest-working game in showbiz. Still going in its 14th year, the latest edition of this classic football sim ups the ante again. One of two great new features is the Playmaker Control, which allows you to adjust plays even after the ball is snapped. If, playing as Daunte Culpepper, you see a free safety shadowing Randy Moss, tap the right stick to bring him back for a screen pass — and a quick eight yards. Adding a mind-boggling level of depth is the Owner Mode, which lets you negotiate salaries, build a stadium, and — for the detail-obsessed — even set prices at the concession stands. Remember: Selling dollar beers might make you popular with the fans but will hurt your bottom line. The ”Madden” series works because it’s a polished sim with incredible replay value — especially online with a PS2 (which also allows you to use the USB headset to verbally abuse the snot-nosed 13-year-old in Tucson who’s been blitzing you all day). All they need to do is hire the ”Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball” girls as cheerleaders.

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