Review by Aroundthering
Good Game for the Vets, Not for the Newbies.
Before I begin the review, I want to stress the fact that I haven't played a Madden game on a next generation system yet. This is a review coming from a long time Playstation 2 Madden player.
My first purchase after buying an Xbox 360 was Madden NFL 08. After years of past generation football I was ready to step up to the next generation. Madden has a great history with me and I consider it to be one of the better Franchises in sport gaming. However this game really just let me down.
Music and Sound
I was pleasantly surprised with the game music at first. The selection seemed wider than the current generation's Madden. Until I realized I was hearing the songs I turned off on my Playstation version. Ozzy fans will be happy until the 6 minute long song plays 6 times in a given hour of gaming. If you are open to every kind of music offered, then you can actually go quite far without getting the same song over and over again. Chances are though you'll turn off some of the songs and get repeats.
The announcing in the game is as run-of-the-mill as it gets. Considering I am on the 360, a machine capable of ripping a hole through the 9th dimension, there is no excuse for N64 caliber commentary. Instead of the repetitious Madden and Michaels commentary, we are treated to a radio broadcast of the game. It feels as if the radio is pasted over the game rather than being a part of it. A amazing catch in week 1 warrants the same response as the same catch does in the playoffs. All in all, the commentary really seems to be distant from the game.
Sounds in the game are simply amazing. Although they don't have actual player voices, you will hear common things that they say such as "3-19" from Brett Favre. In practice mode you can hear the ball whistle through the air, which is neat. The cracking sound of a tackle is great, and will keep you wanting more. Crowd noise isn't anything special but it certainly won't ruin the game for you.
The menu screen looks as if it is pushing graphic abilities as well. The dark blue modern look is very sleek. The menus move very quickly which makes it easy to navigate. Things get more complex in modes such as franchise, but you'll get used to it. You can scroll through players and teams by using the trigger buttons. Overall, the menu is fully functional and won't change how you view the game.
Fans of franchise mode are in for a treat. Training camp is gone and replaced with weekly training. This negates the crazy progression your player makes in the off season where a player can gain 7 skill points if you're good enough on the drills. However you only get 3 workouts per week, so you must plan carefully. I haven't gone too deep but I found that the realism is much better since you must plan and execute carefully.
The graphics in this game are stunning. I felt as if I was in a whole new world the first time I saw the player's faces. They actually look like their real-life counterparts. Every detail is done so well I couldn't grasp it all. The field begins to wear and tear after plays, rain makes the field wet, and playing in the cold makes players breath show. It feels like a working model of a real game as far as graphics are concerned. I can't say enough about them.
The controls in game are rather simple in theory and in practice for Xbox regulars. Coming from the Playstation I found things were very hard to get used to. It is important to remember the controls work fine for Xbox vets, so if you struggle the only thing you should do is practice. If you have trouble getting used to new things and feel a need to jump right in, then you might want to avoid this game altogether to save some frustration.
Oh boy. Second week of playing now, and I absolutely hate the game play. I have never felt so rushed in a game. The kickoff takes just a few seconds. The computer doesn't even give enough time for the radio broadcast to catch up to the kickoff. He'll be talking about the match up as the ball gets kicked. The plays are set up nearly instantly which further adds to an arcade feel. When you chose a punting play, all the players will be in position instantly. You don't get to watch the return man set himself up or anything.
The running of plays is rushed too. Running plays are faster than I can comprehend sometimes, with agile running backs breaking laws of physics with their one-after-another rapid-fire jukes. These moves also seem to cause the AI on defense to glitch trying to calculate how to get to the ball carrier. There have been many times where the safety twitches around on his own while the system calculates how to get to the running back. Since the back is so fluid, he can burn the safely with no problem. Another glitch I had trouble with was the safety completely mis-calculating and running off to the side line when the back is breaking through the middle. The speed of the game takes away the realism for me.
The execution of the passing game is actually pretty neat. You truly have to fear someone like Randy Moss because of his tremendous abilities. There are few things more satisfying that throwing a jump ball and watching your man bring it down one handed. The passing game was the fun that kept me playing no matter how bad the defensive game is. Defensively, passing is much easier to defend. Any mistake by the quarterback will be picked off by the AI, plain and simple. In fact, they are much more aware of tipped balls so anything tipped is as good as intercepted.
The turnover issue gets it's own section for being so important. Playing stupid will get the ball turned over. When you run the ball, you have to cover it up before getting hit. It is the same in real life. A one hand grip is not enough to keep possession. Passing plays are the same way. Stupid mistakes get picked off. I have the same problem and I'll admit that it is stupidity, not the game.
Features in the Gameplay
The main implementation in this year's Madden is the Weapon System. I remember once upon a time we could look at a 95 speed 98 jump player and figure that he was the guy for great catches, burning players, and scoring touchdowns. Now you get a large symbol underneath the player while in the game to stick that knowledge in your face. This also seems to enhance their abilities, which makes you wonder what the 95 speed 98 jump was there for anyway, since they will seem to play even better than that. The weapon system in general over-glorifies what players can do. This may be a good thing for newbies however since they don't need to be a stats freak to figure out who their Go-To Guy is. The rest of us just don't need to be told that Ray Lewis hits hard.
Another feature is the 100 rating for the best of the best of that stat. After showing us amazing speed last year, Devin Hester has 100 speed. Peyton Manning has 100 awareness and Reggie Bush has 100 agility, just to name a few. The difference between a 99 and 100 is clear, but may be too large of a gap. The difference between 100 and 99 should be the same as the difference between 99 and 98. However this is not the case, as you can't tell the difference between stats that are 5 points different. Again, this feature has over-glorified certain player's abilities.
If you enjoy this game it will last you until the 2009 version comes out, if not more. There are plenty of teams that need rebuilding, players to develop, and most importantly other teams to beat. Online playing extends this since the online community is ever changing. The challenges can go on for quite a long time since this game is the standard for a whole year. You can also update your rosters online to keep things similar to real life NFL football. But if you don't enjoy the game then there is no reason to keep going.
There is just too much to write about this game for a review.( I kept going back and adding more in, but I haven't done enough to fairly judge everything.) It is really a matter of how much you want to play the game. The only way to get better is to struggle and practice. To be fair, I can't rate the game low just because I am bad at it. However I will rate it low because I bought this game to play realistic looking and realistic playing football. I only got one and we all know that graphics do not make a game. The game play is too rushed and arcade like for a die hard football fan.
Vets of Madden on Xbox 360 and Xbox will have a much easier time with this game and should buy it since they are used to it. Vets of Madden on other systems should rent it to see how they like the controls and feel of the game. Newbies of football, games, or the system should really read more reviews and then rent it no matter how good it seems. Remember these are opinions, and your own opinion can vary.
Final Rating : 4/10
Rating: 2.0 - Poor
Product Release: Madden NFL 08 (US, 08/14/07)
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