Guest Review: Madden 2008 (XBox 360)

Guest Review! Kyle from notthegame.com weighs in on Madden 2008.

Madden 2008 is a bit of an enigma. In the last few years, on the new systems, Madden has been a sub par football game. This is typical for sports games on a new system as it takes game developers a few years to revamp the game engine, as well as improve graphics and features. The third year is typically the year when progress starts to be made. Take the PS2 versions, for example, in 2002 and 2003 the game redefined the way football games look but they didn’t play that well, in 2004 the game took on a life of its own, and by year four in 2005, Madden reached its pinnacle. That lines the 360 version up for 2009 as the pinnacle of its success on the new systems.

Madden 2008, however, is a serious step in the right direction. This year, Madden has perfected the game play, improved already stellar animations, and added the features and options we have come to expect from the Madden franchise. If by next year, EA Sports can improve the presentation, get rid of the god awful radio announcer, and add some innovation to franchise mode, the game will reach a level never before seen.

That being said, here is a break down of this years game.

Graphics:

Madden has never really been known for its graphics and animation, but this year that is starting to change. Animations are now much more natural, as players will reach for balls and drag their feet on the sideline. EA Sports uses what it calls a “branching” system. Essentially, this allows the movements to transfer from one to another seamlessly. In 60 frames per second, the game runs beautifully, but since everything is so smooth, the occasional jump in animation between say, standing and falling, seems very out of place. All in all the graphics are very good, next year EA Sports needs to add some more presentation elements.

Sound:

The radio announcer sucks. It sounded like a good idea, but really he is just annoying and makes the game feel outdated (think Joe Montana Sports Talk Football), there is no reason why the biggest selling sports game of all time shouldn’t have real announcers. The hits and the players yelling make the on field experience great, but the crowd is just “ok”.

Gameplay:

Extremely fun and fast. The game plays with a ferocity that Madden hasn’t seen in years. The hits, running, and catches are truly fun to accomplish, and the realism is outstanding. It is one of the few games where neither the defense or the offense dominates. Some games are commanded by defense, while others are controlled by electric offensive players.

The new superstar abilities is well implemented and really gives stars individuality on the field. If you try to tackle Lindell White high, forget about it. For big backs, you need to hit them low utilizing the new Hit-Stick 2.0. It is these little idiosyncrasies that really make the game shine. The gameplay is tight, but it does feel a little tired, as the plays have been the same for years now.

Features:

Franchise mode has some added options, most specifically the ability to relocate your team. Superstar mode has playable camera angles, but during the season there is not much to do other than play games, practice, and bitch to your agent. Its fun, but its not a fulfilling experience as you only get to play the plays with your player, so you don’t development an emotional connection to your team.

Overall:

Madden plays great, looks good, and sounds horrible. In all, it is a good game, but there are times where I feel like I’m left wanting more. This years game is shaping up to be the penultimate game, with a little tweaking, next years will reign supreme.

8 K’s out of 10. A Brett Myers.

KKKKKKKK

Dan: Uh, 8 “K’s” out of 10? A “Brett Myers?” These aren’t star ratings! How are we supposed to make sense of this? Let me do some math…

****

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