Madden NFL 08 Wii
Published by: EA Sports
Developed by: EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
The Madden NFL series had a great debut on the Wii with Madden NFL 07. It was one of the few third-party releases to make good use of the console's unique controls. In fact, in many ways, the Wii version of Madden NFL was like a breath of fresh air for the series. In some respects there were disappointments however. Graphically the game was no better than the PlayStation 2 version of Madden NFL 07 and the game didn't offer any form of online gaming, something which seems archaic these days. Despite these problems, there were enough plus points for us to believe that the next version, Madden NFL 08, could really do something special.
Madden NFL 08 offers up the usual assortment of modes such as Play Now, Mini-Camp, Franchise mode, NFL Superstar: Hall of Fame (where you can play as a custom character or rookie from the '07 class etc). These modes are as enjoyable as ever but it's the new modes that will catch the eye. Online play has been included this year and allows you to play, one-on-one. There are no online leagues or tournaments but at least it's a start and if you are fortunate enough to have a lag-free experience it's a mode that's quite enjoyable. There is also a Multiplayer-Mini Game mode and, new for this year, a Party Mode to enhance your offline multiplayer experience with the game. Party Mode (for 2-4 players) allows you to play a mini-game tournament (selecting up to twenty-two mini-games) or take part in an NFL flavoured trivia quiz. You can also play a game against each other and analyse each others' play with the telestrator feature.
Madden NFL 08 is the first EA Sports game to feature a concept known as Family Play. Essentially you play without the nunchuk attachment and use the Wii remote to perform simplified offensive and defensive moves. The idea behind this control scheme is that it allows anyone, regardless of their previous gaming experience, to enjoy the game in a heavily simplified form. The problem is that playing the game in this fashion just isn't involving. You feel so detached from the action that it just doesn't hold your attention. You'd be much better off playing the game in the usual fashion and turning difficulty settings down as low as possible to begin with and then turning them back up again as you feel more comfortable with the game.
There's no doubt that Madden NFL 08 is an enjoyable game that feels at home on the Wii. The controls have been tweaked a little and are an improvement on those found in last year's game. As with the other versions of this year's game you can strip the ball from an opponent. The weapon icon system has also been included although its functionality isn't as good as in the 360 version and its effectiveness is about the same here as it is in the PlayStation 2 version. In fact that's our biggest complaint with this game. Aside from the control system, Madden NFL 08 feels distinctly like a last generation version of the game. Graphically the game doesn't manage to improve on the PlayStation 2 version, although the loading times are quicker. The AI is on a par with what you'll find in the PlayStation 2 version and you can also say the same for the animations. Whilst nobody expects the Wii version to look as good as the 360 version, most would have been hoping for a decent improvement on the PlayStation 2 style visuals that are on offer here.
Deaf gamers won't have any real problem with Madden NFL 08 on the Wii. Game commentary isn't subtitled and Madden's comments aren't subtitled but that's not that much of a problem. The Learn Madden mode, which is essentially a tutorial mode, displays all of its information in text so you'll have no problems in learning how to play the game. By default tutorial messages are displayed whilst you play the game using a mixture of text and pictures (you can disable these if you like). The trivia mini-game questions are all in text too. During the game there are various comments made through the Wii remote's speaker and during the trivia mini-game there are applause sounds made through the remote's speaker. Deaf gamers won't be aware of either of these but in truth it's not much of a problem.
Those who enjoyed Madden NFL 07 for the Wii will undoubtedly appreciate what Madden NFL 08 has to offer. There is more content here and the new stuff that's been added does manage to enhance the overall package quite well. The controls, which were very good to begin with, have benefited from the tweaks that the developers have applied in Madden NFL 08. Graphically it still looks like you're playing a PlayStation 2 game and that's very disappointing. In fact the presentation of the game on the whole really needs to be bought up to date and not simply mimic the look of last generation Madden NFL games. In terms of content and how it plays though, Madden NFL 08 for the Wii is a great game and one that makes good use of the console's unique control scheme.
Madden NFL 08 for the Wii represents a solid improvement and some of the new features are certainly interesting. Graphically it needs to improve however because having PlayStation 2 quality graphics just isn't good enough.