Another school year is underway and that means one very important thing to gamers across the country; it’s time for a new addition of Madden NFL Football. After last year’s disappointing entry into the long running franchise, “Madden ’08” aims to really take advantage of the latest hardware, XBOX 360 and PS3, and to fix some of the problems that plagued last years version. Many new additions, and the return of some features left out of last years version, add up to create a truly fun and realistic game.
Although “Madden ’08” is appearing on virtually every video game system imaginable, this review will focus on the PS3 and XBOX 360 versions.
One of the fancy new additions is the specialization of different players with their signature styles of play. For example, Brian Westbrook, the Philadelphia Eagles star running back, now has the tag of being an elusive back. Gameplay wise, this translates into him having incredible agility allowing him to avoid many tackles with jukes.
On the other hand, a running back like Steven Jackson, from the St. Louis Rams, uses his brute strength to power his way through defenders, picking up yards after contact, and is rarely taken down by the first tackle.
Different types of players serve to balance others. A hard hitting safety, like the Eagles’ own Brian Dawkins, can put a big hit on a spectacular catch wide receiver, like Terrell Owens, making him drop passes.
Basically, on both offense and defense, players really feel different and unique which adds to the realism of this game.
Tired of just playing game after game? There are a bunch of other modes of play to keep you busy. In Superstar mode you create a player from scratch and improve his skills on your way to the NFL Hall of Fame. For newcomers to the series, there are video tutorials to teach you about the less obvious additions and nuances of the game.
Longtime fans of the series will be glad to hear that the fantasy draft, after being absent from last year’s version, has made its way back into the modes of play. A fantasy draft allows you and a bunch of your friends to pick your dream team of NFL players. Ever wanted to see what superstars like Vince Young and Reggie Bush could do if they were on the same team? Well now you can.
Also new to Madden are gang tackles. It sounds minor but they can really change the course of the game. Now if one defender is trying to tackle a ball carrier, other defenders can join him and push the ball carrier backwards. It really comes across that this game’s publisher, Electronic Arts, was trying to make a truly realistic game here. They have added so many new animations that I’m still seeing new ones every time I play the game. Players and coaches really show some emotion now, whether they are celebrating in the end zone or fuming on the sidelines.
I do have some gripes with the makers of this game though. First of all, there are way too many fumbles. Even the most elite of players in this game just can’t hold onto ball.
For some reason unknown to myself, the makers of this game chose to make L2, one of the shoulder buttons, a lateral. So every time you accidentally touch that this “fumble button” the ball carrier will just throw the ball behind himself for every defender to try and recover. It’s beyond me why they would choose a button that served an important function in previous games, and make it into an instant turnover every time you touch it.
“Madden ’08” gets a nine out of 10 for looking great, including so many new additions, and the return of some fan favorite modes, but loses points for having way too many fumbles and making some odd design choices. After a sub par outing last year, “Madden ’08” has returned to the high standard that gamers across country expect from the best football game on the market.
Sadly for Playstation 3 owners, the XBOX 360 version of the game looks better and runs at a higher frame rate. This translates to a smoother game with sharper visuals. The PS3 version isn’t a bad game, but after playing the XBOX 360 version it’s hard to go back.
Dan Correnty is a student at West Chester University, majoring in Communication Studies. He can be reached at email@example.com.