Madden NFL 08

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Curses!

EA was so close this time around. After two years of subpar efforts, Madden NFL 08 is livelier and more dynamic than its Xbox360 predecessors. But while the core game is well made, there are problems that make what could have been a fantastic simulation, well, just another video game.

The game has received a big makeover, with vastly improved animation the highlight. The effect is a game that looks more realistic, with convincing gang tackles, running backs making themselves “skinny” in tight quarters and some great tiptoe efforts by receivers. The gameplay has also been tweaked, and for the first time feels competitive with the PS2 versions that sadly dwarfed the pretty but unexceptional next-gen Maddens. And online play, yes, it seems to work pretty darn smoothly this year. That’s some good news.

But unfortunately, there are problems, and perhaps that realistic look makes them harder to stomach. A lot of problems relate to the line play. Too often defensive linemen will jailbreak through the offensive line to score a quick and easy sack. Slow down some of these plays and you’ll witness offensive linemen doing, quite literally, nothing. Fumbling is overly prevalent and you might find yourself pressing the “cover ball” button rather than actively trying to fight for an extra couple of yards. Like fumbling, injuries also seem to be more plentiful than they should be. Finally, not that they’re new to Madden, but the hyper-athletic defenders, who can instantly recognize where a pass is going, adjust and make a play, even if they’re not necessarily looking at the QB, are ridiculous.

Madden NFL 08 looks amazing, it’s true, and it’s by far the best next-gen version of the game yet. But right now it leaves me hankering for 09. To have a game that looks so real definitely highlights the unrealistic things that tend to happen on the field. It makes for a frustrating experience, but it seems the Madden team is on the verge of something great.

3/5

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~ by 6outof5 on September 10, 2007.

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