a much improved version of the next-gen madden... but that doesnt make it a superstar game...
I played two games, one exhibition - seahawks vs 49ers, and then one game on xbox live with my cousin.
I will be comparing this game to a few games, just to get this out of the way: Madden 2007 for 360, Madden 2007 for regular xbox, and ESPN Football 2K5 (2K Sports) for xbox.
The first thing you notice when playing this as compared to last year's 360 version is that the speed of the game is MUCH improved. Last year, the game, including the menus, were extremely choppy, to the point where I just gave up and went back to the original xbox version of 2007. This year, they did a good job improving that while adding some more animations. That's an EA Sports plus! (but keep in mind, anything could have been an improvement here)
The Franchise mode, quick look, is deeper than last year's 360 version, and now almost on par with the older gen systems. That's still sad to believe that the next gen version is still struggling. More on this later.
The next thing you notice is that the play by play is the same piece of $#(@ trash that was in last year's 360 version. It's stale, MONO, and the guy doesn't even state his name. EA has the freakin ESPN license and doesnt even use it!! It makes me wish the old days where Madden used to talk was back. And I hate it when Madden talks... There's absolutely nothing to show for Replays, and television-style presentation. It's about as dry as I've ever seen in a game. I think NES games had better between play presentation. Serious. Now this brings me back to the last series that had the ESPN license... this was from 2K sports. That game, 2K5, was perhaps the most well presented game I have ever seen - packed with highlights, a full half-time show, and SportsCenter/NFL Primetime weekly wrap up show with highlights and Chris Berman doing his thing! That was amazing.
Anyway, back to the meat of the game, the gameplay feels much more like older gen consoles, again, but the animation still doesnt have the fluidity that I'd expect, especially after playing 2K series games and the more recent All Pro Football. It just feels clunky, and not really realistic. The motions just dont move right, and it still feels like players glide on air, but less so than in the past.
The same plays that you could exploit before are still exploitable now. It's so easy to run a well timed West Coast Offense in this game, but granted they claim you cant throw bombs as easy anymore, but against my cousin online, I was able to hit a few plays of 50+ yards in the air.
Speaking of online, our first game lagged out and we had to start over half way through the 2nd quarter. It was a laggy experience, but manageable, I'd say. The speed of the game dropped many times to what the speed felt like in last year's horrendous game. There were alot of fumbles, turnovers, as all madden's have had. Not really a positive, in my book. I like getting INTs and Fumble Recoveries and all, but 8-10 TOs a game, every game, is just ridiculous.
There's no replays in online games!! But there is a freakin 5 minute (or what felt like) intro to the game...
The Rosters are not up to date, even though you kick off by downloading a new set of rosters. I adjusted and put Culpepper and Donovan Darius on the Raiders. I was too lazy to find more updates, so maybe I'll just wait til a new one comes out, or find a list of changes to implement.
But besides that, I'd say this game is finally playable for next-gen consoles, at least the 360 version. I heard otherwise for PS3, so I'd like to hear first impressions.
Final Scores (as IGN would rate...):
Presentation: 1 - about as lacking as you can get.
Graphics: 7 - grass is ugly. players arent anything special. animations are better, but not as fluid as other football games...
Sound: 4 - play by play never seemed more important until you experience how bad it is in this game. actual gridiron sounds are pretty good
Gameplay: 7 - not as good as what the critics think, but finally manageable!
Overall: my initial score is about a 6.5 right now, but i'm a harsh critic, plus I'd say I have lost alot of respect towards EA Sports in the past 5-10 years, especially when theres other franchises that strive to make innovative and critical improvements (any 2K sports game, Winning Eleven series, to name a few...)
This is based on 2 games. I can see some of the scores improving over time, as I haven't got to really play with the superstar mode, the franchise mode, and this Weapons system - but I was never a big fan of it to begin with - i actually think its sort of lame. ------------- UPDATE ------------------
This game just has way too many turnovers and issues to really like. I am struggling and fighting myself to play this game because it's so difficult to appreciate the game but I just want to lead my Seahawks to the promise land. I played more online gaming and it times out half the time. Its frustrating. I've also adjusted some of the sliders to reduce the amount of turnovers and also have used the "protect" button but i feel like in the end its a button mashing game when you're ball carrying. The hit stick + protect + directional control + sprint + stiff arm... geez that's a lot of work for a running game. It just ends up being button mashing mayhem.
I want to reduce the score of this. EDITED 09/30
This game is unplayable. Too many flaws. Too many turnovers; both fumbles and INTs, on CPU and HUMAN side, even with sliders at 0 for interceptions. Franchise mode has major major flaws in it like players disappearing after being released. Super star mode is not friendly, online mode is laggy, and buggy. The offensive lines break down in miliseconds, equally 10 sacks a game, even if you have a strong O-Line, etc etc etc.