So the draft has been and gone. Ginn’s pick is still the most talked about selection in the draft and the Browns are on cloud nine after getting their two high-profile draftees. The next NFL item on the agenda is the impending release of Madden ’08. Previous Madden installments were nothing more than a roster update and a few new modes thrown in for good measure, but this time around EA are going to have to pull their finger out as they have some stiff competition in the form of recently announced All-Pro Football 2K8 from 2K Games.
Luckily EA have started to reveal some information about the upcoming title and it looks set to be one hell of a game. Tiburon have already said that they are putting a lot more work into the gameplay, as well as the game’s graphics. Madden being Madden, when it’s released it will look sublime – the helmets, jerseys, cleats, fields, stadiums and players will no doubt be re-created perfectly.
The newest features to be included in ’08 include bigger catches. This includes one-handed dives and sideline foot dragging. Many previous Madden owners will know that it was a big risk throwing the ball out to a receiver near the sideline. Simply because a lot of the time they’d jump out of bounds in an attempt to catch the ball. In the newest title you will be able to utilise your Wide Receiver (WR) as he drops his feet to the floor deliberately missing the sideline so that he stays in-bounds.
Despite having these ‘bigger’ catches, EA have still made things more difficult by improving the Defensive Back (DB) AI and actions. One thing the DBs can now do is smash into a WR’s side while they are in mid-air trying to grab hold of that 60-yard long bomb. These mid-air collisions will result in some dropped passes, fumbles and the highly sought after injuries.
This swiftly brings me onto the next feature – hurdles. Hurdles aren’t new as you can quite happily do it in ’07, but they have been updated. Although you can dodge tackles at your feet, hurdling means you are up in the air, which in turn means while floating like a butterfly you will be smashed in the side by a Rhino as you try to make that 1st down. Gang tackles made a very quick appearance in the PS3 version of ’07, and it was surprising just how well it worked. With the new game the gang tackling will be even better, which means the running game in Madden won’t be anywhere near as powerful. A plus in any Madden fans eye.
The entire Defensive AI has been given a major overhaul as well. Slant plays for one opened up holes in the crappy AI, which made passing extremely easy. When players rolled the Quarterback (QB) out to the sideline it resulted in the game’s poor AI going towards the QB, which in turn left the opposing wide receivers wide open. Luckily all that has changed with the new game and the various Defensive flaws look like they have been ironed out.
Even the Offensive Line and Defensive Lines have been re-worked for the new game. You will see more Offensive Tackle double-teams and more intuitive blocking. You’ll even see the Defensive Line completely consume and collapse the pocket in their bid to hunt down the QB. As well as all the new gameplay features, EA have also included loads of new animations so that you won’t see the same stiff-arm or truck over and over again. Celebrations have also been included and when you score a Touchdown you will see all your teammates come up to you and slap you over the head, while making some obscene gesture about how much the opponents defence suck. They have even managed to fit signature celebrations into the game, so keep an eye on players such as Merriman and Ocho Cincho.
Another thing to watch is the various players and how they play. For example Peyton Manning will be his normal self, tearing apart defences with his perfect passing. LT will be seen breaking multiple tackles on his way to the end zone. Champ Bailey will assume control of entire fields, picking off anything floating through the air. You’ll even see inconsistent players such as Aaron Brooks and even golden boy Vince Young throw passes in entirely the wrong direction. All of this adds to the game’s realism and Madden ’08 is really starting to look like something special. The game itself won’t be here until August 14th, but already it is looking like the best Madden to date. With sideline catches, laterals, celebrations and an all-new defensive AI you’d be mad to miss out on Madden ’08.
Originally Written By: Lee Matthews