Madden NFL 08 Hands-On

The venerable football series keeps chugging toward the end zone, and we've got an updated look at the game from EA Los Angeles.

This year's Electronic Entertainment Expo falls in July, and as a result, game developers have a bit more time to tune their games in preparation for the show. There are few better examples of what that extra spit and polish can mean for a game than the most recent build of Madden NFL 08 we played at EA Los Angeles during the publisher's summer pre-E3 event. The game, due for release later this summer, felt even better than the last time we played it back in May.

The player animation promises to be better this season than ever before .

Overall, the game felt more stable than the earlier build we played. Many of the graphical hitches that are fairly typical of work-in-progress software were few and far between in the build we played last week. The result was a steadier pace of play, and one that made the already sterling player animations that much more effective in the game. If it's been a while since you've played a Madden game, Madden NFL 08 might surprise you because player animations have improved--and not just in variety. Sure, this year's game is going to have more tackle, juke, and catch animations than previous games in the series, but thanks to a new branching system that determines how one animation transition into another, the variety of animations from one play to the next should be more true to life than ever before.

The weapons feature in Madden NFL 08 is new to the series and represents an attempt by the developers to separate the best players in the game from those who are merely good. Let's be honest, while any player lining up a running back in the NFL is a great athlete, there's a wide gulf between a player like Shaun Alexander of the Seahawks and Tyson Thompson of the Cowboys. That, of course, is why Shaun Alexander is one of the biggest weapons the Seahawks have and why Thompson will be fighting for a position on the team this year. There will be 24 weapons in the game, and all will have specific strengths. Players denoted as weapons will also have icons underneath them so that you'll be able to tell who the stars are, even if you aren't familiar with a particular team's roster.

In one exhibition game we played between the Seattle Seahawks and the Chicago Bears, we learned firsthand what a powerful weapon Shaun Alexander can be on the field; the former Alabama star bowled over our defensive line several times on his way to the end zone. As one producer told us, you have to go low on Alexander, which means you should tackle him low by pushing down on the right stick. This will cause a defender to attempt to take out a power runner's legs. For smaller backs or receivers, pushing the stick high will cause your defender to hit the ball carrier high, possibly resulting in a forced fumble. However, raw power isn't Alexander's only asset--the improved inside running game had Shaun dipping and diving between linemen as he looked to take advantage of even small holes to gain some extra yards.

We're excited for this one already, and there's still lots we haven't seen.

Just as weapons in Madden 08 have their specific strengths, the game also provides counters you can use to offset those talents. For such power runners as Alexander, you can take out their legs, but receivers also have their weaknesses. For example, a big play receiver might be vulnerable to a big hit; you can even choose to "spotlight" a receiver who's tearing you up during a game. To do so, you pull the right trigger before the snap, press the face button corresponding to the receiver you wish to focus on, and your team will automatically put extra coverage on him.

Rewards for good play in Madden NFL 08 will always be under construction. This is because as you reach new milestones, such as passing/rushing a certain number of yards or gaining a certain number of sacks in a single game, you'll be constructing trophies. These trophies will eventually live in your trophy case in the game's front end, which will also be decorated with your favorite NFL team's colors and logo, as well as video clips from the team. You'll also be building championship rings, one level of bling at a time, as you progress. Each ring will consist of five separate components, which you will earn over time.

Another bit of presentation fun we saw in our time with the game was the inclusion of Marshall Faulk providing pregame and postgame commentary on games. Faulk is the former St. Louis Rams running back, current NFL Network commentator, and surefire Hall of Famer who will have a big presence in the presentation. He'll even go so far as to make pregame predictions on the winner in some cases.

With the tangible improvements made to the animation and gameplay, there's a lot to be excited about with Madden NFL 08. This is considering we still haven't had time with the updated NFL Superstar mode or the new franchise mode. Rest assured, we'll be bringing you much more on these modes with our continuing Madden NFL 08 coverage in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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189 comments
BlakkSteel
BlakkSteel

This is still THE SAME GAME from last year! When they REALLY make changes to the game engine, I'll be there drop day. But, from GameSpot's review, it just sounds like more of the same.

NandoSupes
NandoSupes

I just saw it at my local video game store...I'm not impresed.

Jopizzle
Jopizzle

I'm not going to get it right away, I mean they said that about last year's Madden as well. It always looks promising, but somewhat gives you dissapointment.

reckeweg
reckeweg

I wasn't planning on getting this but GameSpot's preview makes it look promising, if the review are decent I'll grab a copy.

foritxxar
foritxxar

ROFL, its the same game almost every year...

Dabears1070
Dabears1070

like anyone every played ps2 online. and anyways this damages the ps3 claims to have better graphics than the 360.

kobebryantyanic
kobebryantyanic

i hear people brag about how the 360 version gonna have a better framerate. OKAY. I hope u guys remember that back in 03-04 the ps2 version of madden had online, and the xbox didn't. Get ur mind right. YA DIIG.

ccputgat2m
ccputgat2m

its only 30 frame per second. the 360 is 60.

dmish82
dmish82

I hope this is better than 07.

newyorkgiant17
newyorkgiant17

this game looks really crappy ...360 looks a hellalot better ...10 days till madeenites UNITE

mrvic87
mrvic87

ibot was this the PS3 version? No... it's probably the 360 version.

elite_ferns1
elite_ferns1

'04 was the best madden. Now i think they are just streching the formula

EazyD91
EazyD91

DEEJOH2 ...for any and all who down talk madden, go lay an egg because madden will always and forever be the king of virtual football. millions will still buy the game to compete against each other and get their football fix. so waste your breath because madden is not going anywhere. " GO BEARS" So how did DA BEARS do in the championship????? hahahaahahahahahaha

zero_threat
zero_threat

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ibot
ibot

was this the PS3 version?

cadahnic1
cadahnic1

You know I was thinking about this, and Madden 09 should be pretty impressive. With the recent addition of Microsoft head man the game should get improved. When he was with the Dreamcast the 2K series was awesome, I think he will bring some fo that magic to EA. EA is saying they are tired of boring people to death, so I think he is going to change their sports games up alot.

DEEJOH2
DEEJOH2

...for any and all who down talk madden, go lay an egg because madden will always and forever be the king of virtual football. millions will still buy the game to compete against each other and get their football fix. so waste your breath because madden is not going anywhere. " GO BEARS"

Saluu
Saluu

..the game is shaping up to be.. ..it feels a lot better than last time we... its got some promising features, we'll just have to see... 'seems like ive read all this so many times about so many games.' if the game is AWESOME, ...saaAAY its freakin awesome. dont go all into detail about the same kinda crap as years b4. be real, is it gunna rock or not? words like 'promising' and 'renovated' sound luke-warm and outdated. oh yea, we'll just have to see how it all comes together when the game ships on... is it gunna rock or not?!

thekey
thekey

I can tell that this game is going to suck after about 2 weeks of playing it's the same game as it was in 06. I'll wait for the review with this one because after seeing the "featurette" I was unempressed.

twashington9737
twashington9737

See, my issue with Madden is that it's virtually the same game. No great presentation, "zombie" like players once the canned animation is complete and they just look robotic, overall. They've done a great job with adding new gameplay innovations but they are leaving out that Sunday afternoon feeling of watching a football game. The 2K series really stepped up, to me, with 2K3 and made me a believer. I have 2K5 on pause, at this very moment, only cuz I don't have my next gen system yet but will, come Oct.... Madden needs to make itself an experience, again. All Pro 2K8 is HOT but I do wanna see this branching animation system in Madden at work cuz I wrote EA after the first Madden on PS2 wanting the ability to break animations and combo your moves. It's finally on tap to happen but come Oct., I will have both. I don't bias against anything and I'm willing to give anything a fair chance but Madden has lost me on my PS2.

trav918
trav918

does anyone know whether madden will make his commentating return this year or is that dull radio guy coming back?

Miraj5
Miraj5

It is not the same game as last year. The biggest change they made to the game is not the weapon system or the new animations. Its the new branching technology they added that can take you from one animation to another even if the first animation is not finished. If you don't get what this means for any video game, then i don't know whats wrong with you. This will make Madden 07 look like crap and is the BEST thing that EA has added to Madden 08. This will make the game much more fun to play. The game is not even out yet and you guys are hating it. Give it a shot, it might be the best Madden anyone has ever played.

DaWhatWhat
DaWhatWhat

The same crap from 2007, with NEW ANNOYING ICONS!!!!

allmightygamer
allmightygamer

Madden looks like crap like usual and the gameplay does not simulate like how it does in 2k8. I am happy to see a running back run backwards about 10 yards to get away from tacklers then go breakaway for another 60 yard run on the same play. That seems to be very realistic and for those that still think Madden is great keep riding the bandwagon to til the wheels fall off. If gamespot wants to give 2k8 (which minus the graphics and small bugs here and there) is a much better simulation football game overall a 7.5 then Madden this watered down pathetic attempt as a football simulation game should be rated no higher than a 7. If i want an arcade style football game I would turn to Blitz and in actuality people should be comparing Madden to Blitz instead of 2k8. I love the gameplay in 2k8 and happy to see them back in action. After realizing what a real football game is capable of I'm already anticipating the next installment.

thewolf619
thewolf619

Madden on the PS3 will run at 30FPS. :( But so does NCAA and it still plays quite nicely. So if Madden runs as well as NCAA, I'll be quite happy.

cadahnic1
cadahnic1

Now isnt the PS3 version going to run at a lower framerate than the Xbox 360 till next year. At E3 a rep for the game said they focused on the 360 version and next year they will focus to catch the PS3 version up. Now I know I heard this, but I was wondering if anyone heard if they fixed this. If they did not I will just get the PS2 version until Madden 09.

FraserAlexander
FraserAlexander

tristluv is a downey for sure; anyway i took a look at the video and it looks like the 07 version that i own...I'm passing on this . they just need to redo the whole thing; engine, animation system, graphics, models, modes. It's just so old and boring now to the point where I don't give an ash anymore.

valdarez
valdarez

Sounds like Madden is once again attempting to take their queue from the 2k series. When was the last time Madden actually added something new and worthwhile to the gameplay without requiring 2k to set the bar for them?

thepwnshop23
thepwnshop23

Is it going to be like Madden 07 on ps3? When the gameplay doesn't seem smooth at all, and somewhat laggy? I hope they fix it.

TRISTLUV59
TRISTLUV59

Well Madden is always gonna out sell 2k so get over it. You can say whatever you want about it....2k will never be better okay so it doesnt matter. Some guy was talkin about 06 for the 360 uh hello all that was....was an example to show people how the graphics look the game play was not good yes I know this but it was like a shelf beta for people to play and just get there madden on nah mean. As you seen in 07 the game was a wjole lot better so....it was like that for the PS3 too the 07 Madden was not that good but they put in the new tackles and stuff but now that Madden is well out on the NEXT GEN track you will see a whole lot more great things. For those who still like the PS2 and regular Xbox version....you must sucj that bad to the point you gotta use the non-realistic play rather then play more real gaming experience on the NEXT GEN

510RocKstARR
510RocKstARR

Iz there gonna be a Fantasy Draft option thiz time??? wen 07 came out for ps3 i was so disappointed that they didnt include a fantasy draft..ever since that mode was added to NFL games ive always used it to build my own team..after i got 07 for ps3 i ended up still playin the PS2 version...Wat about Editing players??? that was a no show 2...

theb777
theb777

So, it's a 2k wannabe. Great news for Maddenites who will get 2k lite

el3fitness
el3fitness

hello , will the game controls be like ncaa 08 on ps3 ?

el3fitness
el3fitness

what will the control settings be. is it going to be like ps2 07 or ps3 07 settings or differant. somebody post or e-mail me the answer !! (EL3@EL3FITNESS.COM)

Jraudia
Jraudia

looks great!! so excited=]

stefo65
stefo65

wow this guy is Sh*****g himself because they dont have refs calm down that doesnt make or break a game

The_Seige_King
The_Seige_King

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jweb24
jweb24

I've bought Madden and the 2k series since they both started. Madden has truly rested on its success for years with MINOR upgrades. I still like Madden but each release doesn't make it the greatest football game ever made. A tweak or a feature( that should have been there in the first place ) doesn't make me blind to the fact that the Madden series of late have been good not great. HONESTLY, shouldn't the best players always play better than the lesser players? Every year the game doesn't improve by much and is over hyped. 2k Football and Madden have their flaws but I see improvement and innovation on the part of the 2k people and on the side of Madden lately- not so much. I've bought and played both games since they started and try not to favor one or the other but I end up playing 2k more than Madden. I still like and play Madden but it should be better than these past releases. Madden is the best series based on its history, but if the 2k series had the same history as Madden , an NFL license just as long as Madden's and as much money as EA , Madden might not be where it is now.

madden_god21
madden_god21

if i dont get this game i will commit scuicide and go to heaven get cast back to earth for talking to much the buy it

sacker63
sacker63

download the demo of ncaa 08 on xbox live. it's free, and it's the same game minus the "weapons" setup. It's looking pretty good.

zero_threat
zero_threat

EA Games is the McDonald's of the gaming industry. I'm lol'n it.

MackMillitant
MackMillitant

When are they going to get rid of this dusch bag of an announcer and give us some real play by play guys or some color commentary?!!!!!!!!!!!

juliusIII
juliusIII

Thanks very much for the heads up jameeler, I been outta the Madden loop since 06, so mah bad.

xunhallowed
xunhallowed

Football video games just suck. I'd rather play actual football than buy another copy of this crappy Madden series. I bought 06 on 360 for 15 bucks, and it was so boring, what with the laggy online, no challenges, and terrible graphics. Madden just sells cause it's Madden.

dem5000
dem5000

Anyone who owns any other Madden game and buys this is s sucker. If the stupid NFL weren't such a bunch of wh0res, there'd be lots of better licensed football games out there. 2K is one of them. Don't support the NFL and EA's bully tactics. It's just bad for gaming. Good for them, bad for us.

jameeler91
jameeler91

julius u could do that in '07 too draft class or watever

FraserAlexander
FraserAlexander

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

footballstar07
footballstar07

Fanatasy Draft has been in the game for so long.. Why in the world would people think it won't be in the game. EA doesn't even have to announce that fantasy is in the game anymore. You people should know its in the game. And please all pro football? Your able to create a team and add nice colors and logos to your jersey and having the ability to create your own stadium. If you want to do that go draw. Yeah it does have good graphics, but its not going to top madden