Madden 08 Review
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Though the feature set is identical to the 360, the drop to an unstable 30 frames per second hurts the game a lot. If you are a hardcore football fan - then buy this game. If not it's a renter at best.
- Animations and textures have been slightly improved.
- AI has been improved, a bit.
- Better camera positions.
- Madden gameplay is mediocre at best.
- Does not present anything different or innovative.
- 30 frames per second.
Electronic Arts' most famous franchise, Madden NFL 08, returns with fresh animations and a new arsenal of gameplay. The Madden franchise is definitely known as one of the longest running franchises in videogame history. Fortunately, Tiburon got its act together with 08 and the result: the best version of the Madden football series since Madden NFL '05.
The most noticeable difference that makes this title unique is a branched animation and tackling system. Pre-made animations are no longer used. This new branching animation system works in tandem with the realistic football physics. Depending on a player's skill, momentum, and positioning, a large variety of animations become possible, all of which display a varied and different tackle.
Group tackle is another important feature that Electronic Arts wants to stress. Open-field tackles by bulky defenders are still possible, but it's more likely that the first only tackler will realistically slow down the ball carrier and not knock him down, as if he was pounded on by 3 guys. In many ways, this creates a more realistic version of football from what we've seen from Madden in the past. But it also allows for strong backs to fall forward and gain extra yards, a slightly weird edge as this would not happen in real football too often.
Madden 08 runs at 30 frames per second throughout most of the game, and sometimes drops to as little as 27 frames per second. You might be sitting back and going, “well, it doesn’t make much of a difference.” Think again. At 30 frames per second, there are not only frame rate hitches that will likely frustrate players, but also the loss of quality in animation. Imagine going in for a touchdown with your QB, and he suddenly pauses for one second as the frame rate stammers. Most of the time it might feel like the animation is fine, but it’s definitely not. Despite the 30 frames per second, the majority of the gameplay plays out well. Only around heavy animations, for example if you go in for a tackle towards someone who already has 5 guys on him, will it drop to 27 frames per second.
Aside from the horrible animation hitches, fumbles are severely discomfited. Even if you cease from a juke and hold fast to cover the ball, it will jump around 2 feet---something very unreal. You might expect this from heavy ball carriers, but it’s just annoying when you have an amazing ball carrier such as LT.
Hit Stick 2.0 can be seen as the scapegoat for this. The newer Hit Stick now allows defenders to choose to tackle high or to go for a cut low. Low tackles go at a running back's legs, making it a great tactic to use against bulldozing backs too tough to take down square at the shoulders. And it often flips the back off his feet, something which isn’t realistic or impressive. In an average game, you might see a lot of turnovers between fumbles and easy picks. With a lead late in the fourth quarter, you may actually give yourself up with an open-field dive just to avoid the chance to having the ball pop loose easily, one major problem in Madden 08.
The bulk of Madden gameplay is quite solid, as it's a far more enjoyable game than what we've seen in the past few years. The battle at the line of scrimmage is now more realistic and is supplemented by intelligent blocking from your Offensive line. The beefed up animations allow for the game to present itself more realistically, without the bowling-pin effect. The blocking is genuine, and the AI snaps quickly to it when the time comes to attack Payton Manning trying to pull a fast one.
Receivers have been given an AI upgrade. If you throw the ball near the sidelines, most receivers will actually try and stay inbounds to avoid offside. They'll shuffle, or struggle. It all depends on the player's ratings. These sideline moves correspond with the addition of new catch animations. If a player has a cruddy rating, expect him to make a fool out of himself.
In the offseason you can purchase a significant number of stadium upgrades. These don't change the visuals of your stadium, but they can ... (continued on next page)