For years, when gamers have heard the company name EA Sports, the catchy slogan, “If it”s in the game, it”s in the game” has come to mind. This makes sense as the company”s football, soccer and hockey games (“Madden,” “FIFA Soccer” and “NHL,” respectively) have made them the highest-selling third-party developer for videogame consoles. In addition to providing gamers with the best professional sports simulation games on the market, EA has also brought college sports games to a new level. This has been seen most recently in the widely popular title, “NCAA Football 2002.” Unfortunately, EA”s latest college simulation title, “March Madness 2002” for the Playstation 2 seems to be a little bit out of the game.

Easily the most disappointing aspect of “March Madness” is EA”s lack of game modes and features that have become staples in all their other games. These include Dynasty mode (where gamers can have complete control their favorite team for many years), scenario games (such as “Madden 2002″s Two-Minute-Drill, where gamers are given two minutes to complete a specific scenario) and all-time teams (playing with 1997 Michigan Wolverines” football team, the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, etc.). While some of these features are just for the hardcore junkies of sports games, EA even omitted season mode.

From this it is apparent that EA Sports were pressured to release the game in time for conference play in real college basketball. This does not make much sense, however, since “March Madness” only features exhibition and tournament game modes. Because of this, great rivalries such as Duke vs. North Carolina, Michigan vs. Michigan State (well, it used to be competitive) and UCLA vs. Arizona lose all their luster.

Aside from missing the appeal of regular season play, “March Madness 2002” also is missing many teams and conferences. Of the 300+ Division I schools that play college basketball, just over 150 make an appearance in “March Madness.” Major conferences like the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-10 are represented well in the game, but teams from smaller conferences, such as the MAC, are absent. This is unfortunate, for while students and fans of universities such as Michigan and Duke are represented, one of the greatest parts about “NCAA Football 2002” was that fans of any of the Division I school could play out their dreams of seeing their school, big or small, win the the national championship.

With “March Madness 2002” lacking in teams, features and game modes, only great gameplay could save EA”s college hoops title from being a complete failure. Apparently EA got the wrong memo. They must

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