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21 Sep 2007

Review: Madden 08

Yes, this is the world's latest review of Madden 08. Trust us, there is a point to it.

Xbox 360

reviewed by Bill Moore

It's that time of year when gamers rush out to get their fresh copies of Madden Football, hoping that their $59.95 annual investment is more than just a roster update. For at least the past two years, expectations have hardly been met. Not this year. Madden 2008 has made several improvements for both the rookie and the all-Madden teamer worthy of its NFL exclusive license.

The first thing I noticed with the '08 version was the slight tip of the hat by EA's Tiburon team to the semi-casual player. Do you have a job? A family? Kids? An odd and time-consuming hobby of gathering football statistics? Other responsibilities besides spending hours in front of the television mastering a fictional electronic universe? Me too. I crave the intricacy of Madden without desire to be an X-bot. As most know, Madden is an excessively complicated game played with a limiting eight buttons and two joysticks -- it's Maddening! Previous versions of the game required the user to memorize all of the line of scrimmage pre-snap actions and button combinations. That's too much for someone who has to battle his seven-year-old just for the right to use the TV. Consequently, of all the great added features to be discussed, the fact that the pre-snap actions and their corresponding buttons are listed on-screen is the single most beneficial feature added in the last three versions. Tackling previous versions of Madden is a daunting task for those new to the game or those who don't have the time to commit to being an expert. If I have only one thing to say about Madden '08, it is that it is much more user-friendly -- and that is a good thing.

Each year, the release of a new Madden generates the cat-calls for what's wrong with the game; however, the '08 version, albeit hardly perfect, is quite well done, and most gamers should be pleased. After a couple years of resting on its exclusive NFL license, the designers and producers truly appear to have dedicated themselves to creating a realistic game both visually and intellectually. The graphics of the game are as near to video quality as I've seen in a sports sim, with spectacular catches, gang takedowns, body shifts, arm reaches, realistic-looking tackles and mid-air collisions. Potential pre-snap adjustments to offensive players as well as control of individual defensive players allow gamers a high degree of customization that brings a level of realism to game plan execution. Overall, this year's Madden is the best yet from a game-playing perspective.

Game Play

The basics of game play remain mostly unchanged. The opening sequence has a few upgrades. A voice-over of Marshall Faulk provides his pregame prediction and the player introduction actually highlights both teams' star players and their respective qualities. Although I still miss the announcing of John and Al, the "radio" voice provides a logical commentary, even if it doesn't berate you for throwing short on third-and-long. Play calling for both defense and offense are more neatly organized, dividing them by formation, by play type or even by featured player. Again, such simple classification makes the game more friendly to us semi-casual players. A new Supersim feature allows you to toggle in and out of action/simulation at will. This is an especially good feature for those who may not have the time to dedicate to a whole game (especially if time constraints are unexpected) and in Superstar mode.

Yes, the somewhat intriguing Superstar mode returns this year and play is relatively unchanged. This game mode lets you play from the perspective of one player, whether it be a wide receiver, running back or defensive end, it's your choice. Your goal is to make the team and eventually enjoy a Hall of Fame career. Same as last year, your actual time playing is limited to the plays the CPU coach calls, and the play of the rest of your teammates. While last year's edition required you to create a fictitious player, 2008 allows you to slip into the shoes of an actual player from the 2007 rookie class. I spent some time playing as Adrian Peterson of the Vikings, and watched Tarvaris Jackson and Brad Childress giving away my influence points like they were birthday cake. Superstar is where the new Supersim feature may be most useful. It simulates (off-screen) the plays for which you have no involvement as a player. You no longer have to endure the sight of Donovan McNabb rolling over your defense, while you twiddle your thumbs waiting for your number to be called.

Overall, the most valuable new feature added in terms of game play is the Player Weapons Icons. "If it's in the game, it's in the game." We all know that slogan, even if it hasn't always been applied. L.T. is elusive, Rodney Harrison hits hard, Shawne Merriman has a great pass rush move, Champ Bailey is a shutdown corner and Rex Grossman can be boneheaded. Although player ratings have always indirectly replicated those qualities in previous versions, such star qualities seen in real life are now directly attributed to their avatar counterparts, and on-screen icons highlight which player on the field has which quality. A click of the left trigger highlights both offensive and defensive weapons to determine potential mismatches of talent. or instance, an audible to reverse direction of a change-of-pace running back away from a "Brick Wall Defender" can be the difference between a stuff and a first down. Additionally, the A.I. will highlight certain mismatches for you, such as a "Hands" receiver lined up against a nickel back, which can lead to a significant advantage for the offense. The only glitch, however, is that if you call a running play, only to see Marvin Harrison line up one-on-one against Jason David, the offense is unable to audible into a pass without changing the whole formation. (If I'm wrong about that, someone PLEASE tell me. I find it one of the most frustrating glitches, especially when guys are left uncovered.)

In all, there are 20 Weapons Icons. OK, boneheadedness is not actually one of them, but Rex Grossman's avatar must have it embedded in a macro somewhere. Some of the other Outsiders staff have noticed that Grossman is so amazingly bad, it's comical. Grossman holds the ball for seconds on end waiting to get sacked, or makes deep throws over the middle to no one in particular. In one CPU vs. CPU match-up, there were 14 Grossman turnovers!

More Features

The actual execution of the offense post-snap is essentially the same as previous editions. Use of the passing cone and leading the receiver are great for the avid competitor, but require user skills I do not yet possess. There was, however, a noticeable change to the defense. The Defensive Playmaker feature allows pre-snap individual control of players regardless of the defensive scheme employed, and that adjustment is above and beyond the normal audible level. For instance, the controls allow you to spy Vince Young despite the fact that you've called all-out blitz, or put Dre' Bly in man-to-man coverage on Lee Evans in spite of the Cover-2 Zone coverage scheme. Another new feature allows the defense to spotlight a specific opposing receiver. Such action gives the defender help in coverage, but just like in real life, spotlighting one receiver may create opportunities for another. These changes provide realistic, yet simple levels of game-planning.

In conjunction with an industry-wide trend, EA has players keep score of themselves. Madden ‘08 has a points-based skill level "Showcase." Users score points by accomplishing achievements on the field. Each user's points status is updated and highlighted at the end of every game (including the points status for the CPU, which I don't completely understand). Those points tie into Skill Levels. Each Skill Level has its own "Championship Ring." The ring visually develops over time as points are accumulated. It is a completely pointless feature -- although, like a lemming, I do ironically check my point status.

Franchise Mode Still Lacking

For all the intricacies and nuances that the gameplay mode exhibits, the Madden franchise mode lacks interesting features, and sometimes even common sense. The '08 edition was a euphemistic bow to the gaming community that has long complained that the designers had gotten lazy. It is a huge improvement in game play, but not a leap forward for anyone looking for something beyond a great arcade game. Madden '08 has the potential, but not the execution to be a great GM game. There are too many things wrong with this game for someone who is as interested in building a franchise and developing players as he is scoring the 58th point in the final 30 seconds of a blowout win.

What's wrong with it? There are too many things to list them all, but here are a few:

  • There is a "negotiation" process with free agents, and by negotiation, I mean, you can negotiate, and they will accept when you pay them exactly what they want.
  • The GM needs an open roster spot to sign a free agent midseason. Well, how do I know whether I want to release Kelly Washington if I have no idea if Troy Brown wants to sign my contract?
  • Unemployed free agents don't seem to care if they work. The average, unsigned outside linebacker should be happy to accept a veteran's minimum salary for one year of work when it's week two of the season, and no one has yet to throw him a bone.
  • You need to remember to turn off the CPU assist during the off-season free agency period or else it will sign a bunch of mediocre players at the same time you are.
  • The off-season free agency process is confusing and laborious.
  • You can scout only five college players during the season -- hope you don't have a lot of roster needs! (As an aside: Although I did not try it, you do have the ability to import players from NCAA '08, which would make the draft process much more intuitive.)
  • I could go on ...

There are a some new features to '08 franchise mode. There is the Gems and Busts feature, where draft picks can be transformed into players that will outperform their ratings ("gems") and those that underperform ("busts") in their first three seasons. It's not only rookies who act more realistic, but old-timers as well. The A.I. has built in a more intuitive aging/progression aspect. No longer will your 35-year-old who had 1,000 receiving yards retire on the spot. Retirements are now more based on relative performance and actual usage. Encapsulated in the franchise mode is the front office mode, which tracks income and expenses of the franchise. It is an attempt to bring finances into the game, but it also is largely a useless accessory.

EA had its chance. Sometime inside ten years ago, Electronic Arts distributed a product called Front Office Football, a game that has potentially the best general manager A.I. of any football game out there. However, as we stated in our review of last year's FOF, the game lacks the visual quality of Madden. It would have been a great match-up for sophisticated GMs-to-be, but alas, EA gave up its distribution rights. Frankly, franchise mode in Madden is a convenient feature in that it creates league-wide schedules, ages players and allows progression of young talent. However, as a true "feature" of the game, it falls flat. Madden '08 is built for on-the-field action, not front office mode. Part of me wonders whether EA really wants a good franchise feature, for fear of cannibalizing future $59.95 sales.

Although I seriously crave a good GM mode to go along with visually compelling graphics, I love playing Madden '08, and I think many FO readers will too. Changes to this year's edition should satisfy numerous constituencies. If the experience of playing Madden has been too daunting in the past, this edition is the one to buy. If you have been frustrated with EA's lack of advancement over the years, this is the one to buy. If you don't care about on-field action, and only want the intellectual stimulation of building a roster -- buy FOF for the PC.

Playstation 2 version

reviewed by Aaron Schatz

I'll start this review the same way I started my NCAA 08 review. When we contacted EA about reviewing their games this year, I requested two copies of each: one for Xbox 360 and one for Playstation 2. EA recently dropped the price on Madden for PS2 by ten bucks, clearly recognizing that us slowpokes who don't care enough to upgrade our systems need an incentive to buy an upgrade for a specific game. Given that most of the development resources are now going to the next-generation games, did they manage to put anything new and useful into the PS2 version, or is it just a lame roster update?

The bad news is that PS2 Madden has many of the same flaws that PS2 NCAA has. In an attempt to keep the franchise consistent across platforms, developers added half-assed, useless new features that are far more complex and work far better on the next-generation machines. For the PS2, that means the new "weapon" system. There may be little icons above players' heads like on Xbox 360, but the only difference I can figure out is different animations for running backs when you use the "highlight stick."

The other flaw is not really a flaw, but an unavoidable reality -- some of the features just don't make it into the PS2 version. There are no "Gems and Busts," so all draft picks after the third round are still basically useless. There is no "Supersim" feature. Ps2 Madden franchise mode still has the same eight training camp minigames that PS2 Madden has had since the beginning of time. (On the other hand, we still get Madden and Michaels. Seriously, how can it be Madden without any actual participation from Madden? Just change the name at that point.)

The good news is that there is good new stuff in the PS2 version. The "Hit Stick 2.0" actually matters -- there's a big difference between hitting the ballcarrier low and hitting him high. It's nice to see plays with motion built in, such as the fake end-around. Most importantly, there is fantasy challenge mode. Like NCAA, Madden got a special mode that only exists in the old-generation games, but unlike NCAA, it doesn't completely suck.

The NCAA "points pursuit" was stupid because the game itself was completely the same. The only change was the way the game was scored. "Fantasy challenge" mode is far, far better because EA changed the game off the field. For the most part, the game on the field is the same. The result is a somewhat less complex "franchise mode" that can appeal to both hardcore and casual fans.

In "fantasy challenge," you can either pick an existing NFL team or build your own roster with active players and/or Hall of Famers. Your team gets a salary cap, and each player is simplified with a single overall rating and a "cap price." Trying to figure out what kind of team you want to build is fun, as is putting together weird combinations like a defensive backfield with Willie Brown, Cedric Griffin, and Rodney Harrison. The team size is small, which is a bit of a problem -- your running back ends up as your nickel corner, and I really don't want Todd Sauerbrun showing up in my goal-line package -- but the point is to make things easier on the casual fans. Games are set shorter (although you can change that) and there are no injuries.

The league is set up as a set of eight-team tournaments, where you simply play three round-robin games and then two playoff games. You get more cap points with bigger wins, and in between games, teams will try to "steal" your players by offering them more cap points. You can do the same with other teams. Teams will also challenge you to minigames where you can lose players or get your opponent's better player at a position. It sounds stupid but it is weirdly addictive, even for a hardcore fan like myself. Apparently, the final league has "super teams" with weird powers, not real NFL players. This sounds like something either very cool or very lame, but I have not played enough to get to that point.

Is "fantasy challenge" mode worth buying the game? Actually, if you are the kind of person who wants to play Madden in short bursts of a half hour at a time, the answer is probably "yes" -- particularly in conjunction with the roster update and the recent price drop. If "fantasy challenge" sounds stupid to you, then obviously the answer is "no." (By the way, "fantasy challenge" is a really stupid name, because it makes it sound like the mode revolves around fantasy football, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with fantasy football.)

Finally, I'll reiterate what Bill wrote above. It is time for the Madden people to re-do the franchise mode. There are a ton of problems, and it is far, far behind the NCAA dynasty mode. They need to take the higher processing power of the next-generation machines and totally overhaul the AI, and they need to fix some of the places where franchise mode is nothing like the actual NFL. Bill Barnwell played a season where 14 different running backs went over 400 carries. You can't tell the AI your team has a base two-tight end set, so the second tight end for teams like Dallas and New England will always get angry because he's not starting. There's no earthly reason to limit scouting to a handful of college players. It's ridiculous that your team has the same size roster in the preseason and the regular season, and even more ridiculous that placing a player on IR does not open a roster spot.

Honestly, the franchise mode has stagnated so much that if it wasn't for "fantasy challenge," I would spend the next year playing nothing but NCAA instead.

DVOA-ize Your Madden!

We've gone through team by team to look for one or two players that are rated too low and one or two players who are rated too high. We didn't decide on specific new overall ratings, but these are players you want to look to change. We also aren't giving specific instructions on what ratings to change -- with a few exceptions -- because there are more sub-categories in the new-generation version than in the old-generation version. Use your best judgment, and feel free to bring up other players in the discussion thread. This is not an exhaustive list by any means.

Note that players who have switched teams in roster updates are listed here with their original teams, and the ratings may not exactly be the same as your version because overall ratings seem to be slightly different on different consoles.

AFC EAST

BUF: Raise: Keith Ellison 76 (specifically, pass coverage) and Jason Peters 87 / Lower: Darwin Walker 86 and Larry Tripplett 83
MIA: Raise: Yeremiah Bell 78 and John Beck 74 / Lower: Chris Chambers 88 (specifically, catch rating.)
NE: Raise: Ty Warren 89, Dan Koppen 87 and Stephen Gostkowski 80 (kick power way up) / Lower: Mike Vrabel 89 (specifically, pass coverage) and Tory James 85.
NYJ: Raise: Bryan Thomas 78 / Lower: Kimo von Oelhoffen 82 and Shaun Ellis 88

AFC NORTH

BAL: Raise: Kyle Boller 76 / Lower: Samari Rolle 87
CIN: Raise: Stacy Andrews 74 / Lower: Deltha O'Neal 84
CLE: Raise: Leigh Bodden 82 (possibly the worst rating in the game) and Brady Quinn 77 / Lower: Braylon Edwards 86
PIT: Raise: Nate Washington 75 and Daniel Sepulveda 81 (kick power up) / Lower: Ike Taylor 87 (What is this, Madden 07?)

AFC SOUTH

HOU: Raise: Eric Winston 77 and DeMeco Ryans 88 / Lower: Ahman Green 88
IND: Raise: Ryan Lilja 81 / Lower: Adam Vinatieri 98 and Bob Sanders (INJ only)
JAC: Raise: Byron Leftwich 82 and Gerald Sensabaugh 78 / Lower: Donovin Darius 89
TEN: Raise: Cortland Finnegan 75 and Michael Roos 82 / Lower: Nick Harper 85 and Ben Troupe 81 (No way he should be higher than Bo Scaife)

AFC WEST

DEN: Raise: Elvis Dumervil 79 / Lower: Rod Smith 84
KC: Raise: Damion McIntosh 78 / Lower: Ty Law 91 (What is this, Madden 05?) and Larry Johnson (not much, but make sure to lower his INJ due to the Curse of 370.)
OAK: Raise: Ronald Curry 79 / Lower: JaMarcus Russell 82
SD: Raise: Mike Scifres 80 and Eric Parker 80 (specifically, catch rating) / Lower: Quentin Jammer 87

NFC EAST

DAL: Raise: Chris Canty 79 / Lower: Roy Williams 94
NYG: Raise: Fred Robbins 80 / Lower: Sam Madison 87 (years old?)
PHI: Raise: Kevin Kolb 73 / Lower: Jeremiah Trotter 91
WAS: Raise: Joe Salave'a 71 / Lower: Brandon Lloyd 82

NFC NORTH

CHI: Raise: Adam Archuleta 81 / Lower: Ricky Manning 86 and Robbie Gould 92
DET: Raise: Teddy Lehman 75 / Lower: Damien Woody 91 and Tatum Bell (pass blocking only)
GB: Raise: Cullen Jenkins 84, Jason Spitz 74 and Ruvell Martin 69 / Lower: KGB 86
MIN: Raise: Chad Greenway 79 / Lower: Tony Richardson 89 (What is this, Madden 03?)

NFC SOUTH

ATL: Raise: Grady Jackson 83 / Lower: DeAngelo Hall 93 and Keith Brooking 92
CAR: Raise: Richard Marshall 82 / Lower: Ken Lucas 88 and Chris Gamble 88
NO: Raise: Jahri Evans 83 and Olindo Mare 79 / Lower: Fred Thomas 82
TB: Raise: Barrett Ruud 80 / Lower: Simeon Rice 92

NFC WEST

ARI: Raise: Roderick Hood 82 / Lower: Reggie Wells 84 and Edgerrin James 91
SEA: Raise: Marcus Tubbs 82 (He should be at least 90 -- but also lower his INJ rating) and D.J. Hackett 82 / Lower: Mack Strong 96 and Shaun Alexander 95
SF: Raise: Moran Norris 74 / Lower: Kwame Harris 82
STL: Raise: Adam Carriker 81 / Lower: Torry Holt 98 and Alex Barron 89

We can give guys some benefit of the doubt based on draft position, but going by the Lewin Career Forecast, JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, and Kevin Kolb should all have the same rating -- probably 80 or so -- with John Beck slightly below.

Marion Barber should be higher than Julius Jones, but if you notice, the Madden people specifically gave the same rating to both running backs in Dallas, New Orleans, Carolina and Jacksonville. It probably is not worth messing with.

Posted by: admin on 21 Sep 2007

48 comments, Last at 29 Sep 2007, 12:54am by Corey

Comments

1
by Nathan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 4:24pm

Still haven't bought it. I think about it once a week.

All Pro Football 2k8 is significantly better gameplay. I want to play with the Colts though as they are my favorite team, and as fun as legends are, they can't recreate what is going on right now.

I'm trying to hold out until basketball season when I can get NBA2k8.

That or get a wii instead. Madden just isn't as fun. Hrm.

2
by podpeople (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 4:43pm

Superstar mode is still the greatest thing ever. My rookie SS(on the browns) finished the season with 122 tackles, 7 ints, 4 sacks and a handful of defensive touchdowns. I won defensive player of the year and defensive rookie on the year. Somehow charlie frye threw for 4000 yards. Next game is the AFC championship game against New england at home. Gotta love the realism of it.

3
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 4:46pm

I was thinking of picking this game up, I'm not going to have any extra video game time after Tuesday. Oh, and from what I've heard, the PS3 version is very buggy.

4
by Joe (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 4:51pm

Re: #3 I pre-ordered Madden for the PS3, but after playing a friend's copy at his house I returned my copy unopened. IMO, it is not a production quality video game - even the QB snap doesn't always work. Seriously, stay away.

5
by R Arpin (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 5:24pm

To audible to a pass from a run, without changing your formation, on a xbox, X to audible, then right stick (formation audibles) to audible. Up is a quick pass, down is a inside run, right is a long pass, left is a PA pass. When I want a advantageous matchup I audible (X then face buttons), then formation shift (black then D-pad directions), and then formation audible (X, right stick). On the 360 I believe formation audibles are tied to one of the shoulder buttons (LB,RB). For madden tips go to sportsgamer.com

6
by Lou (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 6:00pm

If there are formation specific audibles on the 360, I haven't found them. And I miss them dearly.

Other gripes with the game: Fumbles happen way too often, O-Lineman make too many stupid mistakes in pass blocking, defenders have way to much range to knock a ball down, and interceptions happen too often, they also react too slowly once the ball is in the air. The QB vision cone, which I loved(and I know i'm in the minority), is no longer a toggle-able requirement, so you can use it but you can have all of its benefits when not using it and none of the penalties for throwing where you're not looking. Theres no Injury slider, so I can't adjust the fact that my players never get seriously injured. Players still get injured in simulated games which means I have a competitive advantage any time I play the computer.

Everything Bill says about Franchise mode is right on. You can actually scout up to 20 players per week depending on which scouting agency you hire, but I still haven't figured out what benefit it serves to scout players. Also the screen where you select college prospects to scout takes way to long to load. Create a Team and Stadium is much more robust this year, but you can't alter your uniform EVER after you've changed locations.

All that said, this is the best version of madden I've ever played. I play All Madden 8 minute quarters and after some slider adjustment end up with VERY realistic stats (with the exception of a few too many fumbles) and close games every week. I'm kind of hard core- I have every version since 93, so I don't know how new or more casual gamers deal with the controls, but I think they're simple enough.

I've never been able to get into the 2k series. I liked 2k1 a lot, and want to give the new one a chance, I just couldn't get into the game play in the demo. It also doesn't have franchise mode, so I'll wait until next year when it does and rent them both before i decide to buy.

7
by Lou (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 6:02pm

Typing that made me want to go to play madden, I turn my 360 on- BLINKING RED LIGHTS OF DOOM :(

8
by Nathan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 6:16pm

RED LIGHTS OF DOOM?! PANIC!

... Man I hate the red lights.

9
by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:05pm

2K was great for the Dreamcast. The last version I had wasn't too bad, but that was a while ago.

I have the Madden 05 Collector's Edition for the PS2, but never really got into it much - frustration with the things they hadn't improved or had actually weakened overcame my interest in the series.

I'm more of a GM type any more, so I'd rather play FOF on my laptop than Madden on the 360. Sounds like that's my choice for now. Maybe I'll rent it from GameFly in, say, March, when I'm done with Halo 3, Guitar Hero III, and Rock Band ...

10
by Ross (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:17pm

I've bought Madden the past couple of years for PS2 but no NCAA... In a way regretting it since I loved the Dynasty mode of NCAA, it is really fun, even if you have won 500 NC in a row.

I've imported rosters from NCAA in the past, and assuming you've actually added the names of the players (via Blacklover's roster updates, I hope), it is really really fun, for at least the 4 years that the "real players" came out of college. I recommend it to anyone who likes that continuity, it's great.

As far as this-year's Madden, it's OK, but you really are underplaying the problems with Franchise. It is a mess especially compared to Dynasty in NCAA. The computer valuation of trades at least is fixed, but the fantasy draft is a joke (for example, I drafted LT, Champ Bailey, Urlacher, Jay Cutler, Shawne Merriman, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Vernon Davis, some great young linemen, etc etc).

The at-the-line line improvements are great, and I like the new mini-games. Individual defender control is pretty cool too.

The thing I'm still stewing about is the crashing, which never happened this year (compared to much more in previous years) EXCEPT for Monday night, where I was in a shootout with my fantasy Seahawks time vs. the fantasy Bengals and the score was 38-35 (in favor of my team) going into the second-half 2-minute warning and thing froze! I was so pissed! I even had a sweet hit I did as Urlacher that caused a fumble and I used to take the lead right before the lockup. Ugh. I'm still mad about that one.

Overall, it's better than last years, PS2 will now continue to not get new features, and franchise mode is still kind of lame, though I love playing it.

11
by James, London (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:18pm

Still playing Madden 05 on the PS2, and won't buy another version until I get a new console.

Does run blocking still suck? 4 years on I still have 'throw the controller around violently' moments when my LT goes out to bury a safety 15 yds deep while my RB is hit 4 yds behind the line by the DE the tackle ignored. I really hope they've fixed that.

12
by David S. (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:20pm

I'm having a hard time enjoying Madden 08 on the 360. I've played about 15 or so games thus far and only 3 of them have not been 3 or 4 TD blowouts (with me both winning and losing). The turnovers are kind of ridiculous, as I just beat the Ravens using the Browns 48-0 thanks to 7 INTs on the behalf of Boller (McNair being injured in my franchise too). I believe there was a streak of 3 straight pass attempts resulting in defensive TDs. That's no fun to me (especially when I'm playing as the MLB looking to stuff the run or break up short crossing routes and not involved in the actual INT at all). I threw 4 INTs of my own and I still pitched a shutout. This was on the second hardest level, too. It's a frustrating disconnect where on offense I can barely tread water against the second hardest level, but on defense I'm giving up 80 yards of total offense in 8 minute quarters on the second hardest level. That gamer ring thing keeps track of your past games, and I was looking at it and saw the lowest number of total turnovers in a game was 5, and there are more than a couple with double digit turnovers. I have the AI sliders for INT (both for the CPU and myself) set to 0 and still this is going on.

I'm just glad I have NCAA 2008 to fall back on.

13
by PatsFan (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:34pm

Have any of you played Madden'08 on the Wii? What do you think?

14
by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:38pm

What is a person supposed to do about the blinking red lights of doom (UK owner if applicable)?

15
by B (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:44pm

For flashing red lights on xBox 360:

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/907534

16
by Jimmy (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:51pm

While I agree that Moran Norris is a great blocking back, but if you look at his stats he is already a great blocking back on Madden (very high strength, awareness and run blocking). It is similar to previous versions of the game in that the only fullbacks who get high ratings are backs with speed who can catch the ball. In previous versions of the game Mike Sellers looked crap until you actually played with him and he opened up holes the size of Delaware (it may be a small state, but it is still a state).

17
by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 7:52pm

I have Madden '08 for Wii, eh. Some of the motions controls are iffy. Sometimes it picks up the snap very sensitively and you quickly pass to the selected player almost instantly after the snap resulting in either an inc or int almost everytime. And sometimes everything gets REALLY blurry and you can't see things too well. I haven't tried "family mode" or any of the party stuff, but it seems like it could be decent.

But if you have a Wii, why would you play Madden '08 when you could be playing Metroid Prime 3 instead?

18
by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 8:16pm

You want fun, check the ratings on QBs after simming a season... 40 TDs and 5 Ints or so is common. I also usually have about six QBs with season QB ratings over 100.

19
by Sean (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 9:02pm

Does anyone know how to get NCAA 08 for the 360 in Australia? I've looked everywhere and no luck. Maybe it's just me, but I'm tired of drafting a CB from Harvard with a Top 10 rating in the first round only to find out his overall rating is 68. I want to import real players godammit!

20
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 9:28pm

I'll follow up on what Chris said, as I also have Madden for the Wii.

I'm going to be critical, and most of my complaints concern online play, which is the main thing I care about since EA has apparently gotten rid of my beloved custom playbooks (at least on the Wii, I've been told that the PS2 has still has custom playbooks). I'm really an X's and O's guy, and don't care much for Franchise modes, drafting, etc.

The controller issues make for painful play online. I started off pretty well, 5-2, then dropped three straight games. There is lag online, even with a good internet connection, and it effects EVERYTHING, including menu screens and controller input. I've lost track of the number of sacks I've taken because of lag that interrupted my throwing gesture, or simply poor recognition of the gesture itself.

As a result of this, people online blitz pretty mercilessly. As well as being effective at stopping the pass, it can be the only way to stop the run. Online everyone runs counters and sweeps that are nearly impossible to stop without crashing your entire defense to that side, or blitzing that side's CBs.

Squib kicks are also the ultimate special teams weapon. Somehow they bounce about 15 feet in the air and returners are hopeless at getting under them. If you do snag one, you can probably bring it to the house about 10% of the time, so you could say it evens out.

The AI is also quite bad at pass coverage. Honestly, I haven't felt that EA has had good balance in the game since about 2004. Here's my assessment of Madden through the years (on Gamecube and Wii):

2002 and 2003: pass wacky and easy to run outside

2004: better balance for inside vs. outside runs, better pass rush limiting effectiveness of always going 5 wide

2005-2006: hit stick introduced, too tough defenses

2007: glitchy on Gamecube, barely played

2008: Welcome back to 2002!

I also have an HDTV and use the widescreen camera mode, but can't see my wideouts at the snap, making throwing out routes interesting to say the least.

Wii's version seems to be the redheaded step child of the madden 08 family. I haven't touched Madden since I got Metroid Prime 3, and when I do go back I will spend a lot of time practicing anti-blitz, anti-sweep, anti-counter, and anti-squib tactics, as well as practicing setting about 8 audibles at the beginning of every online game in the 30 seconds you get during an online pause.

21
by joe football (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 9:53pm

Short version: as long as you only play online or with buddies, you'll have fun(except on the Wii apparently). If you want to do anything else, forget about it

22
by vijay (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 10:03pm

Is it worth it to get the game for Xbox? I found it at WalMart for the Xbox a few weeks ago and haven't had a chance to open it up yet... Does anyone know or am I the only one in the country who actually bought Madden 2008 for the Xbox?

23
by Gus (not verified) :: Fri, 09/21/2007 - 10:45pm

Don't buy this game for PC. EA Sports has been content to run the same crap out for PC for the past four years. Just update your rosters.

24
by Moe (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 1:22am

As a Minnesota fan I haven't had much incentive to buy the game the last few years.

If I was a Pats fan I think I would buy multiple copies of this year and next years to keep fresh forever.

25
by J.R. (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 1:52am

I love SS mode but only QB is fun to me. Maybe because I can't tackle on defense at all. The weird thing is you don't have to beat out starter. I got drafted by Chargers and immediately played over Rivers. Yeah, that makes sense!

26
by Youppi (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 2:50am

I like the single-player version for wii more than for xbox (havn't played the 360/ps3 version)). The throws right after the snap because of controller motion on wii go away once you play enough. The online version is weak though with the tolerable to bad lag for all opponents.

27
by andy (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 3:21am

I have the 360 version of Madden and it's terrible. I haven't even finished a game because I get so disgusted with the horrendous gameplay. Every other play is a turnover. Lots of ridiculous long TD's. Franchise mode is terrible. It's arcade football. If that's what you like, keep with it. I'll keep playing All-Pro 2K8, thank you very much.

28
by J.R. (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 3:38am

Re #27:

The turnovers are an issue, mostly fumbles. Every game is like 5+ fumbles. The interceptions are also frequent but you can minimize those making safer throws and taking sacks.

Franchise mode is really quite bad I agree. In the past, re 2+ yrs ago, I enjoyed just simulating games, training players and making GM decisions. Though this aspect was always far from perfect, it was fun. Last year on 360 they just did away with franchise mode and this year's version is meh.

Maybe some sliders would make it all better, I'm too lazy to look good ones up.

29
by VarlosZ (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 6:09am

I actually regressed to the PS2 version this year after being severely disappointed by the 360 version of '07. There were a bunch of features just missing, most significantly the ability to save in the middle of a game, the formation-specific (right-stick) audibles, and, especially, the accelerated clock (i.e. the play clock runs down to 20 seconds after you call a play, and you can't get up to the line of scrimmage with more than about 14 seconds on the play clock unless you go no huddle).

30
by SM (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 10:57am

There don't appear to be any combination of sliders which help with the turnover issues. Unfortunately the fumbles and picks killed the game for me, I enjoyed it for a while but the lack of realism becomes overwhelmingly annoying after a time.

No sign of a patch so back to APF2K8, NBA 2K8 and waiting for next year's Madden. Maybe next year they will get it right - the eternal cry of the EA Sports gamer.

31
by Frank (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 11:38am

The turnovers are pretty ridiculous. With the Bears, I played the Pats in the Superbowl following the '07 season. Brady's first five passes were all picked off, and four of them were returned for TDs. I wasn't even doing anything special, just straight man coverage.

The run blocking is absolutely horrendous. It virtually takes an act of God just to average over two yards per rush for a game. Roughly 75% of all running plays (mine or the CPU) result in a tackle for a loss. At least once per game, each team will get a sack on a running play by getting to the QB before the RB can take the handoff.

The fumbles are out of control too. I play with 6 minute quarters and between the fumbles and the picks there's literally 12 to 15 turnovers a game. I played one game where I bagged nine picks and five fumbles.

But beyond that, yeah the gameplay is awesome. Punt returns with Hester are fun!

32
by Independent George (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 11:54am

It's funny that everyone mentions excessive fumbles; I remember one of the things that annoyed me about '07 was the fact that you hardly ever forced a fumble (particularly during QB sacks). Looks like EA did what they always did - took a legit complaint from their customers, and made it worse.

I don't have a 360, and don't plan on getting one, so I was curious about the things I most hated about '07:

1. Did they fix the salary cap in franchise mode? In '07, you could field an all-pro team for about $100 million under the cap starting around season 8 or 9.

2. How about suction blocking - do offensive linemen still suck defenders into their gravity wells?

3. Do they let you use custom playbooks in franchise mode? I never understood why they took this out. The people who play Madden (instead of NFL Blitz) are presumably the ones more interested and knowledgeable of actual football; and it seems downright insulting to let somebody spend hours and hours putting together a playbook only to prevent him from actually using it.

4. Did they improve player progression? In '07, AWR ratings would jump 30 points just by playing in the postseason, so you could draft physical freaks, sign them to long-term deals, then watch them miraculously turn into all-pros in their second year. Meanwhile, veterans at the end of their careers would still command premium salaries, because their OVR rating was high.

33
by Rob (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 11:58am

I prefer Madden 07 on the Wii to Madden 08. The "football" part feels like it plays the same, but on 08 you can't use the controller to point at the play or player you want, unlike in Madden 07. They also swapped the buttons for sprint and dive.

34
by Arkaein (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 12:06pm

Re 31: As far as questions 2 and 3 go, on the Wii suction blocking is still alive and well (one of the reasons that running outside works so well, LBs can get picked uff by pulling blockers who should be out of position), and custom playbooks are completely non-existent (again, this might be different on other platforms).

35
by JoshuaPerry (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 1:58pm

Guys Madden has not changed much in about 5 yrs..

36
by Lou (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 2:32pm

#30
I haven't had that problem with running at all. try adjusting your sliders. lower cpu tackling (which i think has a minor effect on fumbles) raising RB ability, Run Blocking and lowering CPU block shedding until you find a combination that works right for you. Until i got my sliders right I definetly had some games were both RBS would be at ~3.0 ypc and some were theyd be ~7, now i have it around 4. I'd put my sliders up but my 360 just broke.
I also had INT around 10 or 0, you also have to learn how to pass away from the d, and check down a lot.

Also Hester is a lot of fun. Put him at slot wait until they line a LB up over him and send him deep.

31:#1 No. I've played in a league with 3 friends for the last few years, we always mandate that we can only spend 90% of the cap.
#2 Suction blocking isn't nearly as bad this year on 360.
#3 no custom plays or play books. This has always perplexed me too. Even when you could customize playbooks you couldn't have the same number of formations or plays as one of the team playbooks and the different sets within a formation wouldn't stack like the team playbooks. I never understood why they wouldn't fix that.
#4 I haven't gone through enough seasons to know for sure. I pretty sure theres a definite benefit to playing games in the post season but i dont know if its as dramatic as in years past. But progression through mini game drills is better. You can't dramatically improve a player in one offseason by like 7 points in QB accuracy or 7 in kick power which was just unfair. You can slowly improve them by a point or two during the season.

37
by Bill Barnwell :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 4:06pm

On the Gamecube, you can create a custom playbook. You just can't actually use it.

38
by A for Anonymous (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 6:30pm

i'll stick with my roster updated 2k5 thank you very much. Reviews of Madden always are similar to this every year... i'll keep my 60 dollars until there is any significant improvement and EA for sure isn't just sitting on its license.

Besides, by changing sliders and downloading new rosters, 2k5 is like a new game anyway

39
by Gabriel (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 8:14pm

wow, Arkaein in the house. The Peregrine made my D a proper terror way back when playbooks worked...

40
by iapetus (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 9:50pm

JAC: Raise: Byron Leftwich 82 and Gerald Sensabaugh 78

Raise Byron Leftwich? First thing I did on starting a Jaguars franchise was cut him. Doesn't particularly bode well for my first season, but it's all about the realism, right?

41
by Youppi (not verified) :: Sat, 09/22/2007 - 11:16pm

For the Wii version I don't see any way to switch up your packages (like putting in the backup RB or putting the #1 WR in the slot). Am I just missing something or is there a way to easily do this?

Also, for online play I don't think the Patriots are good enough. I can't stand them and never play as them, but about 2/3rds of the people I play against use the outside run to maroney/throw deep to moss/stallworth on every play offense. I think Madden should just give Tomlinson to the Patriots so no one is ever tempted to pick someone else.

42
by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 09/24/2007 - 12:07pm

#40

No, there aren't any formation subs, at least not on next-gen, which is pretty annoying.

Everyone seems to complain about the INTs and fumbles problems, but I don't see a huge one tbh. The only area where its an issue for me is down at the goalline, because everywhere else you can create quite a bit of space to get your passes into, but if you make a bad pass you'll be punished. At the goalline you can't, so you basically have to run or throw an INT. Well, thats my experience, but I do suck a little bit!

43
by seamus (not verified) :: Mon, 09/24/2007 - 3:14pm

Those people complaining about the fumbles and picks and impossibility of running the ball -- what level are you playing at? I'm playing the Dolphins at Pro difficulty, and I'm able to move the ball down the field. It took some practice -- you have to anticipate defenders before the snap, follow your blocks, and be conservative with the sprint trigger, but Ronnie Brown is able to get 4 YPC like real life with the truck stick. And passing is stingy, but Trent Green can still hit open receivers if I time the pass correctly.
This shouldn't be insulting, but have you tried turning down the difficulty level a notch?

44
by mactbone (not verified) :: Mon, 09/24/2007 - 4:31pm

Re 42:
The point is though that Pro and Rookie cheats to make your players faster and better. I can't play on those difficulties because it's a joke - 56-0 at the half joke. All-Madden is completely insane because they boost the AI's powers way too much. So most people use All-Pro and tweak it a little or if they're good they play All-Madden and tweak it a lot. What most are trying to do by adjusting sliders, etc. is to get the stats in a 6-10 minute game to be realistic or at least similar to the simmed games.

45
by Rant (not verified) :: Mon, 09/24/2007 - 4:55pm

'08 on 360 here. I thought there were so many turnovers that the game needed a patch...until I started to get good at it. Basically I realized that you just can't "chunk" the ball anymore during passing and you can't "juke,juke,juke" while running. If you run smart, follow blocks and cover up, you will not fumble as much. If you throw to OPEN receivers, they will catch it and your ints will drop. IMHO, if you play the game like you would really play if your job was on the line, as the NFL players do, it ends up being pretty fair on the turnovers. I still feel they happen a little too much but I do have many 0 turnover games. I have '07 on xbox and on 360 and am glad I have '08 on 360 now. Worth the buy. Btw, Tiger '08 is also much fun and a pretty big improvement over '06 (all I ever played on 360).

46
by seamus (not verified) :: Mon, 09/24/2007 - 4:55pm

43:
OK, got it. I do notice that simmed games tend to take on scores like yesterday's Philly-Detroit game, while human-CPU games tend to go more like 10-7.

47
by Slaphappy (not verified) :: Tue, 09/25/2007 - 12:56am

Ugh...won't put anymore money in EA's pockets for basically the same game every year. I have '06 on the PC and never thought it played like any kind of serious football simulation.

Arcade game through and through.

48
by Corey (not verified) :: Sat, 09/29/2007 - 12:54am

What about those of use that don't care about the franchise crap? I just want great gameplay. In my humble and selfish opinion, EA needs to concentrate more on graphics and gameplay. I'm also disappointed in the challenge issue... especially spotting the ball on close plays. Make it more life-like. That is, of course, it that is possible with a cheapy like me that isn't willing to pay for the new PS3... which, if I'm not mistaken does NOT change the actual game play.