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Jeremy Jastrzab
15 Sep, 2007

Madden NFL 08 Review

360 Review | A fumbled touchdown.
Another year, another Madden NFL title. The monopoly that EA now holds over all NFL and ESPN specific content has been well publicised for some time now, but the fact remains that there are still a few more years before the license ends. Unfortunately, this has led to the consensus that EA was no longer ‘trying’ to make a great game, merely churning out the same thing year in, year out. Given the amount of support that the game has and the massive budget behind, it would be reasonable to expect something new from year to year. But then that would be common sense, wouldn't it?

The last two editions, Madden NFL 06 and 07 on the Xbox 360 and PS3, were easily outclassed by their previous generation counterparts, particularly in terms of content. However, the PS2 and Xbox 360 version had pretty much reached their zenith and really were no longer going to go anywhere anyway. It has been argued that the latest edition, Madden NFL 08 is the strongest title from the last few years. And to an extent it is. Though at the same time, it’s still the same game at its core.

For that salary, you need to be dedicated.

For that salary, you need to be dedicated.
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Madden NFL 08 is probably the first among the new generation platforms to really feel like it belongs on the HD range of consoles. That is, you have a pretty game but not necessarily at the expense of content. The first thing that you’ll notice as you enter the game, is a vast empty room. It will fill with rings and trophies as you play through the game and earn them. They are displayed every time you enter the game. In an interesting addition, players will be able to put their trophies at stake against both CPU and online opponents.

Madden NFL 08 has always had plenty of modes and has generally been aimed at those who play year-on-year. This is further indicated by this year’s tutorial, as it only really goes through the new features in the game. Still, among the usual gameplay tweaks, there has been one substantial new addition. Several of the star players in the team are classified as ‘weapons’. The weapon category allows the player to excel in that category. For example, a ‘smart’ quarterback can spot opportunities better, while an ‘accurate’ quarterback throws very accurate passes.

Not only do these additions affect the gameplay, by really being able to highlight the strength of a player, they have a pros and cons aspect as well. For example, someone who is a good receiver may be susceptible to a defensive lineman that is classified as a ‘big hitter’. That is, the defense may be able to cause a few more fumbles. Given the diversity of stars and players amongst the different teams, you've got a lot of tactical and variable nous to the game. Not to mention, there are over thirty individual weapons and it's only one weapon per player.

This is only going to end in tears.

This is only going to end in tears.
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The other gamplay additions are somewhat minor in comparison but they bring the game back to the level that it reached on the last set of consoles. In particular, the defensive hot routes are back. Newer additions include the ‘receiver spotlight’, which allows you to target someone if you expect that they’re the one to get the ball. The Hitstick now allows for low or high tackles, depending on whom it’s meant for. You can now try and strip the ball off a player, causing a fumble, but there have been reports that this feature has made for a few too many fumbles across the board.

In terms of the actual game modes, they remain virtually the same across the board. Superstar mode, mini games, My Madden and even the online mode are all identical to their counterparts from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of Madden 07. There are minor additions with the career modes, with the concept of ‘Busts and Gems’ representing under and overrated players and ‘Super Sim’ allows you to simulate games. Interestingly, the online mode has not evolved for a few years now, as the only thing that you can do is play one-on-one matches. The only other mode that has seen any major upheaval is the Owner mode. Basically, it’s much deeper and you’ve got a whole new set of options laid out before you. This includes the option of moving your team to an entirely different city. However, you’ll need to manage this mode properly, if you want to succeed.

In terms of the presentation in Madden 08, the game takes one step forward and one step back. The biggest step forward has been in terms of the animations. Thanks to a new system of branching animations, the players have taken the first step towards moving like actual people rather than highly detailed robots. As a result, you have a game that flows a lot better, is less prone to unrealistic stupidities and just fits together really nicely. It looks and feels right, not to mention the player’s reactions to your inputs is much improved as well. Finally, the Xbox 360 version runs at 60 fps, which makes for a smooth experience. There have been reports that the PS3 version is detrimentally slow but the general consensus says that it doesn’t have an effect on gameplay. Still, given the choice of two, the Xbox 360 version is the one to get for visual presentation.

I believe I can fly, or at least jump high.

I believe I can fly, or at least jump high.
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For better or worse, the rest of the game’s visual presentation is pretty much identical to last year. Everything from the fine details to the audience involvement to the replays were pretty much the same to last year. The presentation is crying for an update or at least a change. In terms of the audio, the commentary is not discernibly different from what it has been in previous years. John Madden does often throw his two-bob your way but if you don’t like it, it can be easily ignored. Even though you’ll hear most of what the commentators have to say in a few games, at least they are accurate most of the time. The EA trax are passable, which is certainly up from previous efforts.

Madden 08 has some changes and additions which legitimately upgrade the game. The gameplay seems to have caught up with where the previous gen counterpart last played and with the weapons additions and greater fluidity through the branching animations, the game does have the one up over its predecessor. That, and game remains a deep and enjoyable experience (once you figure out what you need to do). Unfortunately, the fact that the game still has so much in common with its predecessor, we wouldn’t blame you if you stopped short of forking out the cash for this game, especially if you’ve put a lot of hours into 07. On the new consoles, Madden 08 has made some decent ground and hopefully there will be even more improvements, come Madden 09.
The Score
Madden NFL 08 is a step in the right direction for Madden on the HD consoles. While it's still quite a good game, a few more steps are needed.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Madden NFL 08 Content

Madden NFL 09 Announced
30 Mar, 2008 Collector’s Edition also mentioned.
Sony and EA refute PS3 criticisms
16 Aug, 2007 Madden slow and PlayStation 3 dumb?
Rugby 08 Review
09 Aug, 2007 It packs a tight scrum.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  24/08/2007 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Electronic Arts
Genre:
  Sports
Year Made:
  2007

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