Getting your head around a Madden refresh, with its exotic playbooks and split-second button-and-thumbstick combos, takes some doing. To help you get game-ready, Madden NFL 09 introduces Madden IQ, a difficulty trainer that gauges your skills in four key areas: rushing, passing, rush defense, and pass defense. After the game's intro completes its warm-up, a jaunty John Madden materializes, haloed in electric blue and ready to talk you through dozens of drills on a holographic field; the prep work takes about 20 minutes to complete, and then you get graded out with a score of between 200 and 800. Your score determines how the software plays in 12 performance areas such as "QB Accuracy" and "Run Blocking." The brilliance of this approach is that it lets you go online and play against someone who is at a completely different skill level and not automatically get steamrolled if, say, your opponent is "All Madden" at passing and you're only "Rookie" on pass defense. You can retake the test anytime you like, or just let the game steer your IQ up or down as you play. And though you can't turn the feature off, you can effectively neuter it by switching from "My Skill" to any of the game’s four stock difficulty levels. You'll also want to spend some time in the new Virtual Trainer, which helps you increase your Madden IQ by focusing on drill areas like "avoiding blockers" and "rushing the QB."