Well it’s that time of year again; yes it is time for yet another version of the never changing Madden series. Perhaps I have made that statement a little early. “Never changing “Actually this year’s incarnation is the best that Madden has been since the days of Madden 06, on everything but the 360.
Madden 08 is the latest football offering by the guys at EA Tiberon, and if you have been living in an underwater city for the past few years (see what I did there) then you know the only way to play as your hometown favorite teams is to pick up Mr. Madden’s game. One thing that really stands out in this year’s version is the Hit Stick 2.0. If you have played Madden in the last few years you know all about the hit stick, how it allows you to deliver brutal hits to your opponents. This year you it allows you to aim high or low with your hits. Another really great thing about this year, which surprised me more than anything, was that the animations are actually good this year!! I don’t think the animations are as good as 2K8’s but slowly but surely Madden is getting there.
For the most part, the on-field controls haven’t changed very much, aside from a few new mechanics like the ball strip and “hurdle control” which is implemented by, you guessed it, hitting the hurdle button. On the defensive side of the ball, you can now “spotlight” receivers, which makes it easier to shutdown superstar wide outs. Beware though, as that will usually leave another guy open. The funny thing is when you “spotlight” the receivers you want; you will activate your QB’s helmet cam. You remember the big deal back in 06, which was the vision cone. That is how you highlight your wide outs.
The biggest new game play mechanic is the Weapon system, which is a great way to make star players stand out from the benchwarmers. There are a bunch of different categories that player can fall into, and they’ll excel in those particular areas. Rather than giving the player super powers that can be used or some nonsense like that, they are simply better than their peers. For instance, Chad Johnson will leap higher than an average player, Rodney Harrison will hit harder. The only exceptions are the ones that allow QBs to occasionally read a defense and linebackers to see what play is coming, but you (thankfully) won’t be able to use those very often. It’s a pretty good system, which is what I believe to be EA’s counter for the way the players are ranked in All-Pro’s game. But then again who am I?
Am I the only one who doesn’t care about Franchise mode? I mean what happened to the days when you can just pick a team and play a season and have fun. Now I have to worry about salary caps, and trade deadlines, and all kinds of other business stuff. I DON’T CARE!!!! I bought this game to play football, not try to get pointers for a business administration degree! So for those of you that enjoy playing for 50 years in franchise mode will be happy to know that not much has changed from last year. The new thing is you can set popcorn prices, and parking-.YAY. Enough about this, let’s move on to the Superstar mode.
Superstar mode has returned in Madden 08, and the developers have obviously taken some of the criticisms leveled at them from fans to heart. You’ll now be able to take control of one of this year’s rookie class in an attempt to turn him into a Hall of Famer. This mode is really the same thing that was in last year’s game, the camera is a little better and that’s it.
Ok, that is enough of the praising this game. Let’s talk about the bad things. Starting with the AI, I am not sure what version of this game some of the other reviewers have been playing, but my game has the worst AI ever! Anytime you can run the same play over and over and over again, and the defense NEVER changes up to counter it you know this AI is just dumb! I mean I thought we were going to take out the old drop back and long bomb the ball and walk away with a touchdown AI.
Sometimes when the computer is on offense you will see some really decent AI choices. When a QB actually runs and dodges out of the pocket when he is about to get sacked is a pretty smart move. Don’t expect that all the time, but it happens. Another thing about the AI is I think it has a dimmer switch. Depending on wither you are winning or losing the game, your AI will be brighter or dimmer. I am not sure, but I think you should play the same throughout the whole game, not using your status of winning or losing dictate how your team plays. Well if you haven’t gotten it by know, I think this AI is dumb as a post. Let’s move on to the stellar multiplayer…please tell me you can sense the sarcasm.
Ok, Killer Wolverine and I have played a lot of this game online. Bengals (me) vs. the Panthers (him), so for most of our games I hosted and we played in Cincinnati. First off there is lag, I have been reading reviews saying it is lag free and stuff, and I am here to tell no its not! More than once, I have messed stuff up because of a nice little lag spot. One game we were waiting like 2 minutes for the game to come back after a lag spike. Back to us playing at Cincinnati, for most of the game I would win. He would manage to come back, but in the end out of some miracle I would come back and win.
Apparently the Bengals have the best pass defense in all of the NFL, because in one game I managed to pick off 7 passes. Effectively shutting down his pass game completely. I mean he literally could not throw a pass that I did not intercept. Here is a little hint, if someone is throwing a pass and you take control of the defender that is covering him and hit the y button. You will more times than not walk away with the interception. Lets flip this now, so we started playing at the Panthers field and we notice now that he is winning the game, and he is getting the interceptions. So what we found out is this game gives the home team the advantage! Talk about pissed; he ended up breaking his wireless headset and a controller. This isn’t all that surprising if you know Mr. Wolverine though, when he gets upset in turns into the Incredible Hulk and destroys everything in his path. I digress though.
In closing, Madden is in a lot of ways better than last years, but it is the same thing I have said about EA year in and year out. They take one step forward and two steps back with every single game. Yes, there were great additions to this year, but the horrible AI, and multiplayer just really mess up the experience for me. I said this in my review for All Pro 2K8 even without the NFL license it is the better game.