Last year, Madden 07 was a great surprise for Wii owners who may have expected a poor port of EA Sports’ flagship title. The Wii remote was implemented well, and while it didn’t have the graphics or depth of the Xbox 360 version, it was still a very good game.
This year, the franchise is back in Madden 08, and it brings with it some new features. Unfortunately, other features are flat-out gone from the game, most notably the create-a-player and create-a-team modes. These Madden staples are sorely missed and they had better be back for Madden 09.
What comes to Madden 08 are several new features, some of them Wii-specific. New “weapons” allow certain star players to create game-changing plays. For example, a star cornerback might be able to stick with a receiver on an important down, no matter how fast they are. Likewise, a star receiver might be able to leap over defenders and make an amazing catch on an important play. Superstar Mode now allows players to make their own player or pick one of the 2007-08 NFL rookies instead, a nice addition to the series. Unfortunately, the Wii version doesn’t let you edit the appearance of custom superstars. The trophy room from the 360 version is also absent.
However, in place of these subtractions, the Wii version adds in online play and a party mode. Online mode currently has problems, though, because EA is having server space issues, but that will hopefully be fixed soon.
The party mode consists of a trivia contest, a mini-game tournament, and a telestrator mode that lets you play through the game as normal, but also use the telestrator like John Madden himself would. The telestrator mode is incredibly fun, though I wish it would have just been an added feature to the game as a whole and not a separate mode.
As for the mini-games themselves, they are mostly the standard practice games you’ve seen in past Madden titles with a few new ones tossed in. That’s actually not a bad thing, as playing these mini-games will help non-Madden gamers get better at playing the game.
Speaking of non-Madden gamers, EA Sports has created a whole new feature just for them. Called Family Play mode, it only uses the Wii remote, with the game doing the running for you. All you do is make the movements, such as hiking or passing the ball or juking around a defender. It’s good for gamers who might otherwise find the standard controls, which remain unchanged from Madden 07, a bit too much to handle. The idea of multiple control settings is going to become something standard in future Wii games, especially complex sports titles like Madden where every button is normally used.
With the Madden series, you pretty much know what you are getting. The game play itself is little changed from any of the recent versions of the game, and it likely won’t be changing anytime soon, as EA seems to have all their bases covered. It’s still not perfect though, and in some places – such as the game’s AI – there is room for improvement.
One aspect where the Wii version is lacking is in graphics. Not only do all players look the same height on the field, but the graphics clearly look a bit dated. Like Gamecube dated. Given the incredible graphics of the Xbox 360 version this is a big disappointment, but it’s not necessarily something that will ruin the game experience for you. The game’s soundtrack is as licensed and vibrant as ever, and the in-game sounds are still good. One interesting thing of note is that the Wii version makes use of the Wii remote’s speaker, emitting any signal calls from the QB before the snap.
The variety of modes in Madden 08 for the Wii, and hopefully an online mode without server issues, give this game plenty of replay value, regardless of if you are a hardcore or casual gamer. However, the more casual gamers you have around you, the more you are likely to get out of this title.
Despite its new features, the lack of some standard ones make Madden 08 feel like a step backwards from last year’s version, which is a damn shame. If you have a bunch of Madden newbies around and want to get them playing the game, you might want to pick the Wii version up. But keep in mind that the 360 version not only has all of the game’s features, but runs at a very nice 60 frames per second.
Pros: Controls are still generally the same from Madden 07. Family Play and Party Mode will help make the game accessible to just about everyone. Makes some use of the Wii’s online capabilities.
Cons: Graphically weakest of three current-generation versions. Lacks depth of options that 360 and PS3 versions have, as many longtime Madden features (create-a-player/team, for example) are cut from the Wii version.
Madden NFL 08 is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: GameCube, Nintendo DS, Mac, PC, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox and Xbox 360.