Universal acclaim - based on 29 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 27 out of 29
  2. Negative: 0 out of 29
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  1. 100
    Knocks the chin strap up around the nose of the competition. It's simply the most realistic simulation of football available, and once again, the industry standard.
  2. 100
    Of course, the game feels best when played with the PS2 controller. The Xbox and the GameCube are fine, too, but their button layouts force sometimes awkward finger stretching.
  3. The most complete and polished piece of football software I've ever spun (!) on my PS2.
  4. Play Magazine
    If you demand the ultimate in presentation and extras, look no further than Madden NFL 2004. [Grade = A+; Sept 2003, p.86]
  5. GameNow
    Without question, the year's best football game...again. [Oct 2003, p.61]
  6. Official U.S. Playstation Magazine
    Yep, Tiburon's gotta go and give us a new greatest NFL game ever made. Again. And they'll probably do it again next year. [Sept 2003, p.99]
  7. PSM Magazine
    Simply the deepest sports game ever made. It's got almost everything a football fan could ever want in a game - and then some. [Sept 2003, p.24]
  8. Madden 2004 for the PS2 may be the most complete game I've ever played, period. There is more virtual football reality available in this game than you could ever hope to find on TV, in the newspapers or on the internet.
  9. Playboy
    Looking for more depth? Take the owner's seat and relocate your team, set concession stand prices in your new stadium and hire your coaching staff. Ditka: Send us your resume. [Sept 2003, p.33]
  10. Entertainment Weekly
    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. [5 Sept 2003, p. L2T 22]
  11. 100
    The best football game of the season. Unlike a lot of football games, the changes to this game aren’t just cosmetic. The result is the most realistic football game you can own.
  12. It's so good, I find it humorous that ESPN uses Madden for its pre-game show.
  13. The online mode that is included is nothing short of "sweetness."
  14. 95
    The game introduces the two best new features found in football games since the Franchise mode, as Owner mode would be a fun game on its own, and Playmaker control is simply the most useful new gameplay tool introduced into the mix in many a year.
  15. Simply THE pro-football title to buy this year, no matter what system you own. If you happen to have a choice, go with the PS2 version. It’s the only one with the awesome online play, and it controls like a dream with the Dual Shock controller configuration.
  16. It may be management freaks like myself who derive the most from this year's Madden. [Sept 2003, p.105]
  17. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    The Playmaker Control you an unprecedented amount of control, so you actually feel like you're commanding the whole team, not just the QB. [Sept 2003, p.124]
  18. Covers nearly every facet of professional football, but what makes this year's entry in the series so special is the fact that it ties all its components together seamlessly. Even the new gameplay features have been integrated incredibly well.
  19. With airtight controls, improved defensive and offensive AI, more animations, a deep and rewarding franchise that allows you to actually own a team this season, John Madden football looks to big in a great position to continue their reign as the undisputed champs of video football.
  20. 90
    Just about the only bad thing about Madden NFL 2004 is the bar that it sets. EA Sports has one hell of a challenge waiting in the wings, trying to improve on a masterful title like this.
  21. Other than the amateur commentating made by John Madden, the sounds of the game are awesome.
  22. GMR Magazine
    04 offers more of the same, but also takes encouraging steps toward true innovation... It's superb in every regard. [Sept 2003, p.72]
  23. Because of its tight game-play, depth and dizzying amount of features, Madden is still the one to beat.
  24. The new owner's box adds astonishing depth and replayability to a franchise mode that is already dangerously addictive, while the playmaker controls only serve to better immerse the player in the experience.
  25. Cheat Code Central
    Perhaps one of the more interesting modes is the Owner mode that exists as a kind of parallel universe with the Franchise mode. It would make a good game by itself although the focus is on business and not on football gameplay.
  26. Another sprawling, complex, but absurdly playable chapter in the Madden saga - but now online sexiness. What's not to love? [PSM2]
  27. The changes aren’t substantially different from Madden NFL 2003, and the excitement level has diminished since the release of "NCAA Football 2004," a game that offers better commentary, more diverse modes, and simply more "energy" than this chapter in the long-running Madden series.
  28. Along with the balance issues, unrealistically high numbers of turnovers and frequent worst-moment-possible penalties shatter the illusion of simulating an NFL game.
    With all the new franchise options Madden 2004 is a definite must for anyone who likes to get into the nitty-gritty of the game, but otherwise you might be better of waiting for the rather nifty-looking "NFL Street." Overall though, this is the best American football game you can get.

Awards & Rankings

#13 Most Discussed PS2 Game of 2003
#71 Most Shared PS2 Game of 2003
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 153 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 22 out of 153
  1. Jul 5, 2012
    A peak that as of 2012 the series has yet to reach. (blame that on the lack of comptish.) The gameplay is realistic and much more fun thanA peak that as of 2012 the series has yet to reach. (blame that on the lack of comptish.) The gameplay is realistic and much more fun than the current versions of Madden, and the game was well ahead of its time. Throw in the excellent owner mode and you have a game with incredible replay value. The best Madden there ever has been. Full Review »
  2. Apr 27, 2021
    Madden 2004 deserves the title of being the most iconic game of the franchise & was released during the franchise's peak. The cover athleteMadden 2004 deserves the title of being the most iconic game of the franchise & was released during the franchise's peak. The cover athlete Mike Vick is one of the most OP sports game characters of all time & would be a great pick if someone is doing a fantasy draft of sports game characters.

    The introduction of Owner Mode changed the game forever by allowing the player change the prices of Tickets, Concessions, Merchandise, Parking, & Advertising depending on how well the user's controlled team is doing in Franchise mode. Mini-Camp is great game mode & is the best way to learn the basics of the game. I also like the tiny fact that in Mini-Camp the players wear practice jerseys instead of wearing full game day uniforms. Create-a-Team is one of the best game modes where you choose whatever colors & logos you like. You can even create your own custom stadium with your created team while choosing what you want your team's uniform to look like.

    The Playmaker Control is one of the best one-and-done features ever where you can flip a run play, change the primary receiver's route on a passing play, change safeties coverage, & determining a defensive blitz or deep pass after the ball is snapped.

    This isn't the GOAT of the Franchise but it deserves the title of being the most iconic of the Franchise.
    Full Review »
  3. Aug 31, 2020
    Incredible game. Back when Madden had competition and couldn't rest on their laurels. They actually cared. Michael Vick is Tecmo Bowl BoIncredible game. Back when Madden had competition and couldn't rest on their laurels. They actually cared. Michael Vick is Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson levels of broken. 99 speed on a QB lol. Deep franchise mode, the complete football game Full Review »