Granted, the country's number #1 sport is rugby. You can hardly go two hours without hearing about the sport now that the World Cup is on. Don’t get me wrong - rugby is glorious. However, just recently the 2007 season of American Football started to a total of 20 million American viewers watching the first game, so it's hardly surprising with the huge fan base that millions are spent on the development of EA’s flagship franchise - Madden.
For those not in the know, Madden is the king of sports game titles. There has been a lot of trial and error to get to the finely crafted gameplay that we see these days. In 2007 we saw the exciting move of the franchise to the Nintendo Wii. You could gesture to pass the ball with the wiimote, nudge with the nunchuck to you’ll sidestep, and more. While the controls in Madden 07 were impressive, there were several key flaws, and unfortunately they haven’t been rectified in the latest version. This is a real shame; after all, Madden’s introduction to the Wii was a real eye opener. It’s a common complaint with the majority of sports titles that the only thing that changes are the new players with updated stats. At times you’ll fell you’re playing 07 with a few extra bells and whistles.
A new extra feature for 08 is the ‘Player Weapons’. No, this doesn’t mean that Reggie Bush will pull out something you’d see Master Chief lugging round; it’s a feature that allows players to get a birds-eye view of the field with icons to show players’ strengths. This is a great addition for newbies to the franchise who don’t know their tight ends from their quarterbacks or their Payton Mannings’ from their Ray Lewis’. A couple of minor complaints with 08 would be the large player icons post-snap - they’ve been made this way to be more beginner-friendly, but can be a pain from time to time. Another issue is a couple of bugs that occur sometimes, one being a quick throw that occurs after the snap that goes to the default receiver without you controlling it, the other being random things like commentary not matching up.
The title this year really shines in the party mini-games; this time round they’re multiplayer with up to four players participating at a time. EA have taken the mini camp drills, as well as adding YAC Attack, Kicking Combine, and 2-on-2, where you and your friends can fight it out to become the ultimate Madden champion. Madden 08 features a unique feature called the telestrator, where players can now humiliate each other by going through replays and marking the screen electronically to show where their masterful play was made. A big disappointment to the game this year, however, is its delivery - you can’t help but feel that it’s the same rehashed graphics and commentary of Madden 07. The graphics still feel like an Xbox title; sure, graphics are one of the weaknesses of the Wii, but Twilight Princess and Metriod Prime 3 still look like next gen titles. The sound also distorts at times with a mash of on field sounds and in game commentary.
All in all Madden 08 on the Wii is a great title. Though it doesn’t look as flash as its next gen counter parts, the functionality of the Wii controls makes the title feel more next gen. Though it has the odd glitch and bug, those who can look pass this will find the game to be highly rewarding. A definite buy for veterans, providing hours upon hours of joy, but maybe people who are new to the game should look to hire it from the local video store to see if it's their cup of tea.