My hand is already played; I’m admittedly not a sports fan. But I am a fan of using sports games as a litmus test for how comfortable developers have gotten with specific hardware.
Madden 2008 for the Xbox 360 has taken a huge leap in quality of generations of yore. Hit the jump for the full story in our Frankenreview: your life gifted back to you, from Kotaku. It’s that freaking efficient.
The biggest and most notable improvement this year is in the animation and tackling system. Gone are the majority of pre-canned animations. Just because you see Ray Lewis wrapping his meaty arms around Shaun Alexander doesn’t mean the same overused tackle animation is about to kick in. The new branching animation system works in tandem with some new, more realistic football physics…Depending on a player’s skill, positioning, and momentum, a large variety of animations become possible. The end result is some of the most varied tackling ever seen in a football game.
The new “weapons” feature has a two-pronged effect. First, these onfield icons make it supereasy to identify a team’s key players and their strengths. And more importantly, these classifications bring some much-needed variety to each position. So running the pigskin with elusive Saints running back Reggie Bush feels way different than using Chiefs power back Larry Johnson.
These new weapon designations even go beyond basic techniques…After a single play or coverage scheme has been called four times, a quarterback like Peyton Manning or Tom Brady can actually see exactly what the defence is going to do, whereas a smart defender can get a glimpse of where the offensive play is going to go.
Fans have lamented the drop in features in past Maddens, but 08 pulls things back up to speed with extensive scouting/draft options and pre-game training for improving players. Overall, there are more draft tools at your disposal – including being able to manually rearrange your entire draft board, although the process itself of scouting and drafting is a little cumbersome.
Something that is a lot more difficult about this game is Superstar mode. In years past, your “Superstar” would collect achievements based on randomised genes from parents…Instead of a randomisation, you have to compete in several drills including the 40 yard dash, running back drills, catch and cover drills, and a bench press. If you don’t do well in the events, your ratings will take a definite hit.
It sounds like Xbox 360 owners have finally gotten their taste of a “next-gen” Madden title. Kudos to EA for getting it right…on the 360.