Madden NFL 08 PSP
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
We have reviewed several Madden NFL games over the years but until now we've never reviewed a handheld version. I've often wondered just how much of the full Madden NFL experience was retained in the handheld versions, often thinking that these versions would have a lot of content cut from them and essentially be a watered down version of those that have appeared on the mainstream gaming consoles. This year I've actually had the chance to see how a handheld version of Madden plays thanks to the PSP version of Madden NFL 08 arriving for review and I have to say I've been pleasantly surprised at how good a handheld version of the game can be.
With the PSP version of Madden NFL 08 you can jump straight into a game by selecting the Play Now option from the main menu, have a go at the new Superstar Challenge mode, play the Franchise mode, play the Mini Camp Competition or simply play the usual Mini Camp games. Naturally you can hone your skills in the Practice mode too. Both ad hoc and infrastructure multiplayer gaming is supported for two players. The Skill Drills and Fantasy Challenge modes that are in the PlayStation 2 version of Madden NFL 08 aren't here though, which is a little disappointing but hardly a problem.
The mode that's new to this year's PSP version is called Superstar Challenge. Here you'll get to play as an NFL superstar and relive some of the biggest moments from the 2006 NFL season. Essentially there are twenty-five challenges for you to undertake. These challenges are split up into five tiers (with each tier containing five challenges). Each challenge throws you into a game in progress and each of the challenges become progressively more difficult. It's a mode that's actually quite enjoyable although I suspect hardcore Madden fans will probably breeze through the majority of the challenges that are on offer.
One of the new inclusions in Madden NFL 08 is the new player weapon icons that allow for a new Read and React system. During a game you'll notice certain players with icons, most of which are icons of weapons. These icons denote the star players and show, at a glance, what type of players they are. The crosshair icon, for instance, denotes a precision passer. You'll be able to see who is a pass blocker, heavy hitter etc. simply by looking at the player's icon. This is certainly a good idea in theory, as it would be very useful to see what players you could rely on, or exploit, in certain situations. To be honest though, the star players, in most cases, don't appear to be any different from the other players so it's debatable whether there is much value to the Read and React system in the PSP version. It's also worth mentioning that different types of players share the same icons (several types have the star and winged shoe icon for instance), which makes it a slightly confusing system to say the least.
Madden NFL 08 actually looks quite good on the PSP. The various arenas in the game all look good and the player models certainly look good enough, and animate well. Some of the textures are a little on the bland side but on the whole the game looks more than good enough. The frame rate is also quite pleasing and appears to remain smooth throughout. Load times are a little on the long side, which I suppose is inevitable given the slow load times the PSP seems to suffer from (we are talking about the original PSP here and not the new model that supposedly offers superior load times).
The PSP version of Madden NFL 08 is exactly the same in terms of its deaf gamer friendliness. The game commentary isn't subtitled and neither are Madden's comments, which he gives when you press the button to request his advice about which play to use. Whilst these comments aren't essential it still would have been nice to have the option to subtitle them. All of the important information in the game's franchise mode is shown textually or numerically.
Madden NFL 08 for the PSP is the first version of Madden NFL that I've played on a handheld console and I have to say I'm rather impressed with how the game plays. The game might not have as many modes as the PlayStation 2 version but at least it offers some form of online play which the PlayStation 2 version doesn't. On the whole the AI is pretty good and I enjoyed the single-player experience that the game offers as a result. The controls are also very good and I didn't really find the lack of a second analogue stick to be much of a problem, which was a surprise to me. If you're looking for a NFL game to play on your travels then Madden NFL 08 is certainly going to fit the bill very nicely.
Madden NFL 08 on the PSP is a very enjoyable game that Madden fans will appreciate. It's definitely one of the more impressive sports games on the PSP at the moment.