Review by Pariah_Ecco
"EA Is Wide Right With 08."
Having been an avid fan and player of the Madden series for so long, I decided I'd write up a review for the original Xbox version of Madden 08, especially since there aren't any reviews on Gamefaqs at the moment for it. Now, of course there are always huge differences for the next gen version and the current gen version, as we've seen in the past two games. Unfortunately for current gen players, I feel that the 360 version is the better of the two. And it has nothing to do with the graphics in all honesty. I'll be dividing this review up into sections, for each area I feel should be reviewed and they'll be rated out of ten points each.
Gameplay: (4/10) I hate to say it, but the gameplay is horrid. I'd much rather go play my 06 version, or even worse, my 03 copy. There's alot to be desired out of the gameplay. First off, the AI is so, well, stupid, that it's obscene. I played a game where the kicker for the other team missed three extra points.....in a row. I played the game on rookie setting for awhile so I could get used to the different controls, as I never played 07. So the controls are alien to me. Even then though, I had to put my defense's AI down all the way and turn the computer's offfensive AI all the way up, just so they could occassionally score a touchdown. You have no option to change the control in the menu either, which makes it more difficult. I never liked the defensive setup, where you switch with B and sprint with A. The kicking of course, well I looked like an idiot when I tried to kick, or on my first attempt, punt, as I didn't know what I was doing. Mind you I rented 08, and the instruction booklet is just a waste of a tree in my opinion. The tackling is way too fast, and the hit stick isn't very timely. Sometimes when you hit the right analog for a big hit, it takes its precious time applying the hit, and by that time the ballhandler is blazing by you. The only thing that actually makes the gameplay a writhing 4 is the play calling. I like the extensive audibles you can call at the line, and the in depth managing on the play leaves a nice sweet taste in my mouth. It was one thing Madden was lacking in its predecessors. However, they still need to fine tune the defensive side of things, as there's still not much you can do with the lineman or linebackers. It's too time consuming on defense when you don't have control of the clock. No matter what you think, just because EA has introduced Weapons into the game, doesn't mean they've not always been there. Because they have. However, now you have the abilitiy to view weapon match ups in game and adjust as needed. Otherwise, the Weapon icons do nothing else except allow you to know the matchups and change them for mismatches on offense and defense. One more thing though, I like being able to play anything on the field, just like you were able to do on defense for so long. That certainly makes it a better game, but it still falls short due to so much that needs fixing.
Graphics: (7/10) The graphics haven't been updated at all. But they've fixed the majority of the problems. Everything runs a bit smoother, and the graphics glitching is subsequently lowered in 08. Other than that, don't expect much. The reason the graphics only get a 7 is for this. Sidelines. Hello, EA, you've had the ability to do alot with the graphics since before the 360 ever came out. But no, the players on the sidelines look worse than ragdolls. They have little dots for eyes and no faces at all. They stand there and do the same, save for the sideline cutscenes. It just really makes you wonder what they do with all that money they make from the Madden franchise. One more thing, is the character models. Nothing's changed, and that's a huge let down. I remember when you used to have unique faces, ones that went with their player. Back when EA had competition and had to do anything to one up 2K Sports. But that's what made it nice. Being able to have players with different faces. Instead, you have multiples and nothing too appealing either. It's about time they corrected this and started putting more effort in the players themselves.
Sound: (8/10) I really enjoyed the onfield chatter between players, and especially when the QBs are tended to by their respective real life counterpart. It really brings out the realism in the game and makes you feel like you're down there. The crowd doesn't really matter much to be honest. I wish they'd incorporate the same interactive crowd as they do in NCAA where the home crowd gives you an advantage. The soundtrack was decent, not good but decent. I'm most decidedly a metalhead, and only a few songs appealed to me. Luckily Madden has had the custom soundtrack for a bit. The hits of course sound bonecrunching as always, but the onfield movement leaves some to be desired.
Interface: (5/10) I'm not too keen on the interface. With interface, you need a good combination of appearance, and easy access. The appearance is nowhere near as good as what they had for 06. That was something you could look at. 08, I'd rather stick my nose into a book than look at that retro 90's look. It's just nothing to look at. As for accessing everything. Well, there's less menus in everything. That helps a bit, but when they've left out a few things, it kinda evens that out. The Franchise interface was horrible. It took me a good three, if not five, minutes, just to find the things I was looking for. The Franchise interface was horrible, which really drops it. However, the only thing saving it from an under par scoring, is the Superstar interface. As always, it's very user friendly, and everything is where it should be.
Animation: (5/10) Sorry guys, but the animation is fairly low due to the fact that nothing's been changed save for the speed, and that doesn't help at all. You still have the same problems, and now it's even worse due to the fact that the tackles are extremely fast. Only one thing really gives the animation some due, and that would be the big hits and big breaks. But alas, it's too fast and you don't really get to catch it unless you like to do alot of instant replay. All in all, it's very shoddy and makes you wonder what EA Sports does when they're developing these games. Guys, no more coffee breaks for you. Endzone dances, same old same old. There's just nothing really new here, nor is there anything inspiring. Come on guys, give us some razzle dazzle for cryin' out loud.
Controls: (5/10) As I stated before, I've kept to 06 since it came out, so I'm used to the older controls. And for there to be no diverse setup, that just sucks. You can't select a different setup, so I'm stuck, being the defensive player that I am, to having to foul around with the controls. I'm not used to them at all. The kicking, though it does allow for less screw ups do to timing, also makes it harder to actually be precise with your kicking. At least when you were excellent at timing you could hit the left side or right side of the ball and kick it where you wanted. This time. You just kick it however powerful you want. I've yet to be able to get precision on my kicks, 'less I'm kicking it so awful that the meter actually says awful. And when you're trying to switch players in the middle of a play on defense. It doesn't always switch you to the nearest player to the ball. I've had to switch me to some guy on the OTHER side of the field. What's up with that? The switching needs to be better executed, and for the love of God, please EA, please, allow us to change control configurations next year. I can't stand this default crap. One thing I've always hated as well, that's wrong with most of them, is the backs. When you go to intercept a ball, or dive for a ball, they have you dive downfield as it's coming instead of being smart and diving where it's going, and on the other, you can never really user pick a pass. It's too hard most of the times. And here's why. The timing. When you press the Y button, it doesn't always immediately jump. Instead it waits, then jumps when the receiver possibly has the ball. Another problem with the hit stick too. Timing. There's too much delay between the actions. It's aggrevating beyond belief. I know this seems like more of a rant than a review of controls, but that's how I see it. EA needs to work on the controls alot more. Same thing goes for offense. The QB doesn't always throw the ball when you tell him to. Not right away. And then it's too late, you're getting sacked. One thing I liked was that the truck stick, now dubbed the highlight stick, did more than just hit a defender for a break. Unfortunately, this purpose is defeated by the fact you can't bust through tackles like you used to. Unless of course it has something to do with the type of runner. At any rate, they need to fix this.
Presentation: (2/10) I'm sorry, but the presentation....just isn't there. Al Michaels and John Madden, I know yall sat there for God knows how long doing these lines, but you did them like three years ago! We need new material. Not to mention we need the pre-game presentation back. I enjoy playing NCAA more than I do Madden because there's just so much more there. Madden is a shell of its former self. If I were John, I'd've shot myself already for even being associated with it. I, among millions of others, want pre-game and post-game presentations. But I'm afraid we'll never get them back because EA is the laziest developer in the world. The radio announcer is dull to listen to. His lines and reactions are so scripted, it's just that obvious. One more thing, is that in Franchise, you don't have Tony Bruno on the radio anymore. I really enjoyed listening to him. It made the game feel more alive, ya know? I liked listening to match ups, I liked listening to the weekly rants and raves. Without it, it makes not having pre-game and post-game options make the game that much more of a bad thing. This is by far the biggest problem.
Modes: (5/10) Only reason this gets a 5 is due to the Superstar mode. If you buy this game, do it only for the Superstar mode. Actually, rent it. Forget the $40 price tag, rent it for $7 or $14 for ten days. It's worth only a rental. Franchise is just....too much geared towards gameplan, not enough geared toward gameplay. I've yet to play through the Franchise to test the offseason, but if the season is any indication, I doubt I'll be thrilled with it. Offseason and post-season has always been my favorite to play through. But with lack of interaction and what not, I'm not too much impressed. I love to import draft classes and build up Franchises, keep playing for decades. I've always been keen to make smart moves and drafts, train players accordingly and what not. But there's got to be enough to keep me enthralled to do so. And Madden 08 doesn't do it for me. Franchise mode falls way short. Next you have Fantasy mode. Okay, unless you're a Sim or micromanager type of guy, which even I am to some degree, though I still enjoy playing, then this is for you. Otherwise, it's just useless. I get more thrills from playing in actual Fantasy Leagues than this. Here, there's nothing really on the line ya know? It's fun for awhile, and then it just fails. Go get Coach if you really want to micromanage. Next up we have the rather classy Superstar mode. This is the only thing that makes the game worth playing on the Xbox. However, it's got a good side and a bad side. Good side. If you wanna play WR, QB, RB, or anything on offense. Good. This is a great game mode for offensive players. The coach picks the plays, but you can always audible and with the diversity of audibles at your disposal, you're a freakin' one man army on the field. One thing I like is that there's no color commentating. Al and John are nowhere to be found. Why? Because you're playing a football player now, not just controlling an entire team. You can only play as you. Can't change to anyone else. And I like that. Create a Superstar is good because it's no longer total randomness, not to mention you get a set amount of points to spend on your stats. So you can pretty much tend to your player as you'd like to play, rather than having to go back and forth trying to get a good randomly generated DNA and what not. Also, you get to increase your stats a bit before the Draft, and another positive aspect, is that you have the option of being drafted by your favorite team. Madden's version of the Wonderlic test is minus ten questions, downsized on time, but it's alot easier than in 06. What that means is, you don't feel too stupid once you finish, you don't get stuck on as much, and you get higher scores. What it also means is, you come out of it without feeling like you really accomplished anything. In 06, the higher you scored, the higher your Awareness was. It could make or break you depending on your position. I remember my SS in 06, I scored 100 on the test, and with my Hall of Fame RB dad and what not, I was a starting 99 overall. So you don't feel like you've accomplished much, but it makes it easier in the end. I'm not quite sure what it really does for you here though, as it didn't change my Awareness. Anyways. I like the Roles that you gain depending on your position. It adds alot more atmosphere to the game. And it really helps in certain situations. The bad side, is the camera. Here's why. One, you can't play defense to save your life. Being more of a defensive player, I wanted my outstanding SS again. But I went through an entire game without recording a single stat. And it's because of the camera angle and play calling. I'd rather run a nickle blitz with my SS coming in for a sack or tackle for loss. But you can't. The angle makes it hard to keep track of the ballhandler because it changes in the middle of play. When you should be tackling the son of a gun, he's blazing past you 'cause you can't even see him. Defense is just impossible in Superstar mode. So unless you're an offensive player, this game is not for you. There's Tournament modes and Skill modes, but they don't offer anything for the huge letdown this game has turned out to be.
Overall: (4/10) In the end, I think everyone should buy 2K Sports' new game, or at least try Madden 08 on 360 if you're that desperate. It's definately better than on Xbox, but not by much. All in all, EA needs a kick in the head as a wake up call to get their asses in gear to make better Madden games. Actually, better games period. I think everyone should, instead of dishing out the money for Madden 08 on Xbox 360 or Xbox, buy 2K Sports' new football game. Believe me, it's definately better than this crap they keep giving us each year. Way better. If EA would only listen to it's fans, to the consumers, and give us better presentations, pre-game and post-game presentations, better animations, slower tackles like before, and just do ANYTHING to fix this horrid mess they call football, then we'd have something decent to play, if not good. They have everything they need, but in the end, year after year, they give us a steaming pile of crap. L.T. is a smart man to decline to be on the cover of Madden 08, and not just because of the Madden Curse, but because no one in their right mind would want to be affiliated with something as horrible as this game. Personally, I'll stick to 06 and keep importing my draft classes from NCAA, especially seeing how I update my rosters manually on there anyhow. Yay for create a prospect. Rent this one if you must, and keep it to Superstar. It's the only thing making this one any reason at all to pick up.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/04/07
Game Release: Madden NFL 08 (US, 08/14/07)
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