Now, that’s football!
Madden NFL 08 proves once again why it is the undisputed king of all football games. The sights, sounds, options, game modes, attention to detail, playability, realism, complexity, and just about everything else in this game is spot on! This game should be purchased by any sports fan with a pulse.
EA Tiburon did very well this year. The Madden franchise is the crown jewel of the EA Sports family, and Madden NFL 08 has gotten the royal treatment. This is one of the deepest, most complex, and most realistic titles I have ever played. The sheer quantity of content is amazing. A gamer can be occupied for hours without actually taking the field. Building a franchise, developing a star player, and importing NCAA football draft classes are just a few of the outlets available to you. You can follow up on the latest news, create your own fictitious NFL team, or hit the practice field to master a set of key plays and dominate the competition. The volume and variety of content are staggering, allowing both novice and expert to enjoy hours upon hours of gameplay.
Madden NFL 08 feels like a well-oiled machine. The level of familiarity that Tiburon has with the title is obvious. The Madden series has been strong year in and year out, and the developers have been able to capitalize on this. This makes the game play perfectly for the Madden faithful. Top players of Madden 07 will still reign supreme. At the same time, instead of resting on their laurels, EA has included some key innovations that make the game stand out from its predecessors. If you master some of the new components, then you may be able to unseat former Madden studs. I’m happy to announce EA has produced a gem of a sports title that is sure to please both longtime fans and newcomers to the series.
There are a host of new features that blend in flawlessly with the rest of the game. The Read and React System allows the gamer, at a glance, to identify key players on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Simple yellow spot icons at their feet indicate if the linebacker is a big hitter, if the wideout is a possession receiver, or if the quarterback is a precision passer. This makes for better defensive and offensive adjustments via line and coverage audibles. This also adds greater depth of character to teammates and opponents alike. Long gone are the days of pixilated backs and generic amalgams of defensive lineman.
The Front Office mode gives the gamer a lot of control over their football franchise. Tools available to you include drafting players, hiring coaching staff, and the ability to control the ins and outs of your stadium. Additionally, the team at Tiburon included Madden Unmatched which makes gameplay even more realistic this year. This feature allows you to control whether you want your defensive players to deliver a bone crunching torso hit or make a solid open field tackle by taking out the legs. You can also decide if you want to make a possession grab with your receiver to ensure the first down or an aggressive move to the ball that will leave the cornerback in the dust. These changes are subtle, but their incorporation really helps with the overall feel of the game. Another subtle addition is that of the Receiver Spotlight. This little beauty allows you to key in on particularly dangerous receivers, forcing the opposing QB to take a big risk by throwing into double coverage or to throw to their second and third choice receivers. This is tremendously helpful when your opponent lines up with a possession receiver (indicated by the dual-hand icon) on third and eight, looking to complete a short slant underneath. It can really help you foil your opponents’ third down conversion attempts by doubling coverage on key receivers.
Another new feature this time around that really seems to enhance gameplay is that of the Defensive Playmaker. This is awesome! This feature requires you to know a bit about football in order to use it effectively. Certain situations, including downs and yards to go, can dictate specific offensive play selection. This is especially true against the computer and football savvy humans. What the Defensive Playmaker feature allows you to do is hop between various team members in order to give them a specific tactical command for that down. For example, you can tell your safety to blitz off the corner even though they’re lined up in man coverage. You can tell your linebacker to show blitz only to ease off and drop back into coverage in a short zone in the middle of the field to cover the slant or pick off errant balls. If you’ve got to contain a QB that’s fleet of foot, tell your lineman and linebackers to QB contain. Maybe you want to play a zone defense, but you need Mike Brown to cover their go-to receiver, simply select the appropriate defender and then that receiver’s icon. It is all very simply executed for those comfortable with how Madden plays. For casual gamers it may be a bit too much, but it definitely adds tremendous depth to gameplay. Bravo!
There are other new features like the Showcase, Rings of a Champion, and Risking Madden Gamer Trophies which produce a slick look, presentation, and a grand sense of achievement. The rest of the game is pretty much the same as last year, which is a good thing. The developers at EA Tiburon did a good job of making some nice refinements and additions without making wholesale changes. The game controls like a good Madden game should. You can choose to play a quick exhibition game, start a franchise, create superstars, play mini-games, go online, and even get sporting news. All of your favorite content and control from years past are here with enough quality changes to make another purchase of the title worthwhile.