Review: Madden NFL 08

Football action is like watching a game on TV. (March 17th, 2008)

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Electronic Arts-EA Sports division

Price: $40 US

The Good

  • Fun, customizable game play. Engaging audio and music. Performs well. Good graphics.

The Bad

  • Some minor glitches. Steep controls learning curve.

Madden NFL 08 is the best of the Electronic Arts Intel only Mac titles so far. I do not normally find football games fun, but this game is an enjoyable experience.

Madden requires a simple drag-and-drop install. Before you play, you must enter the authentication code, register it on the site, and we recommend you check for updates.

Eager to see the game in its full glory, I enabled all options first. I was pleased to see that Madden uses the full screen resolution of my widescreen monitor, unlike Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 and Need for Speed: Carbon, which used only a maximum resolution of 1024 by 768.

memorable soundtrack

Madden NFL 08 has a memorable soundtrack, offering a mix of rock, rap, and R&B tracks. The tracks were not jarring or obtrusive, and I found myself tapping my feet on more than one occasion. Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08 had disappointed me with its bland, uneventful soundtrack, so it was good to hear that EA has not lost its touch with game music.

Create a Player, Fan, or Team

In addition to EA game's normal Create a Player option, Madden NFL 08 allows you to create a fan, team, or playbook, which adds personality to the game. The Create a Fan option intrigued me. Sadly, this revealed the first glitch: The fan's entire body had a reflective shader texture, so he looked covered in plastic wrap. This also appeared in the Create a Player mode, but did not reproduce itself in any other area.

Madden 08 screen

Create a Player Screen

I created a player and a few fans - of which my favorite was one with a big foam finger, a massive beer gut, a team logo painted on his front. The game then asked me to identify my favorite team and set it as the default first player team for all games. My football knowledge is not very current and Bo Jackson is the latest player I could name off the top of my head, so I was a little lost as to which team to choose. Pirates are always fun, so I went with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Variety of Game Modes

You have several options for game types, such as starting a franchise, different practice modes, and short objective-oriented matches. I started with the practice mode, to learn the nuances of the game. Practice mode pits you against dummy men, who have mannequin torsos, but rushing practice pads for legs, leaving them to hover slightly above the ground. Each practice session guides you through several attempts, requiring a 60 to 100-percent success rate, depending on the nature of the drill. Each drill gives you an accurate feel of how the artificial intelligence typically reacts in a real game situation, and adequately prepares you for the full experience.

The passing drill, for example, puts a small offensive and defensive line against one another, with two comically enormous versions of the dummies acting as pass blockers. It requires you to complete 60% of the passes to progress in training.

Variety of Game Modes

After I graduated training, I faced my first opponents, the New Orleans Saints. I customized the weather, time, and stadium in which I played the game. This provides a wide variety of visual elements, as well as game mechanics. You can drag and drop input devices to the different team sides, so I placed my controller icon in the Buccaneers' field and started the game.

I was extremely pleased to see a rapid frame rate, easily above 40 frames-per-second, even at 1680 by 1050, with visual options on maximum. The rain made an impressive beading effect on the virtual camera lens, and television network-quality banners and logos slide all over the screen, with upbeat brass playing in the background.

Madden 08 screen

Rain Effects in Madden NFL 08

Madden NFL 08 features a minimalist in-game interface, showing little more than the score and down information along a thin bar at the top of the screen. This is a nice change from the Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08 cluttered play field. With the exception of your active player's name hovering above his head, and passing indicators when making a play, it almost feels like watching a game on TV.

Good Design

The artificial intelligence is smart, but fair. Each play is unpredictable, rather than the game reacting the same way each time. Past experiences with football games made me feel as if my input didn't seem to change the outcome very much, this isn't true for Madden.

Player and computer-controlled characters moved fluidly, with good animation. Well-done transitional animations display players moving smoothly from running to a tackle, for example. Touchdown replays get right into the action, again providing an authentic feel, as if you are watching a football game on TV.

Madden 08 Replay screen

Instant Replay Screen - Madden NFL 08

The controls are solid, but it took a while to learn the layout of the controller. My Mad Catz game pad uses A, B, X, and Y button labels, but the instructions referred to buttons one through eight, which made it a little hard for me to transpose correctly.

Overall, Madden is a great game port. There are a few graphics issues, but they don't interrupt the game play. Excellent sound and fun music add to the play. The announcers add witty and helpful banter to the game. Madden NFL 08 is entertaining, and has long term appeal, plus the custom aspects of the game should keep even the most jaded NFL fan enthralled.

Related EA Games Reviews:

Need for Speed Carbon

Tiger Woods PGA TOUR 08

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Galen Wood


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