this game sounds awsome. I love 2007, this will be so much better. Cant wait for this game, espcially online!!!
July 5, 2007 - Any Wii sports fan out there knows how incredible it was to have a entertaining, must-have Madden game on day one for Nintendo's new console back in November of last year. EA promised a new way to play, and the company delivered with the best version of Madden 07 hitting exclusively on Wii. Now we're nearing this year's football festivities and what better way to kick it off than with a little Madden NFL 08? We had a chance to go hands-on with the game at EA's Pre-E3 shindig a few weeks back, and now that it's go-time for E3 2007 we're ready to tell you all about it.
For anyone that played Madden 07 last year on Wii (and from what we've seen in sales, that'd be a lot of you) the control and play style of Madden 08 won't be anything groundbreaking this time around. Players take the field as any officially licensed NFL team, using motion control teamed with classic analog movement to experience a fuller, more intuitive football experience.
It's the same world, there's just more in it.
Like last-year's version the Wii-mote is being used for hiking, passing, stiff-arms, jumping, catching, and big hits. Spin control is still mapped to a button press, and jukes are still handled with a simple nunchuk shake.
Little Changes: Big Difference
Where the game furthers itself, however, it does so in a big way. For starters, kicking has been fixed substantially; it's now much easier to control angle and spin with the same motion as before. We had a chance to play with the kicking mechanic for about five minutes specifically, and it is currently working great. In addition, IR has been toned down a bit, being used only where absolutely needed. Menu interface still makes use of the cursor, but play calling and character switching while on-screen is now done with button presses, instead of using Wii-mote motion for hand waving audible calls. Rather than trying to seek out the player you want to switch to pre-snap (which often caught us off-guard when playing computer opponents) a simple button tap will move from player to player; good call EA.
In general, Wii motion controls are easier to use, so big hits on defense and head-down plowing are simpler and are much quicker in response time. As part of the full Mii incorporation, each player will now use a profile at all times, and the on-screen move indicators will now show the Mii head as well, so you'll know if you were the one with the big hit or late juke move. It's a simple change, but it helps nonetheless.
Get a feel for the new on-screen indicators by clicking the video below:
Also incorporated now are on-screen move suggestions, so not only will you see what move you already did, but what actions you should do when passes are in the air or when you're being dragged down by a defenseman. In general all on-screen icons (including motion suggestions, Mii motion indicators, and passing icons) are now larger, so it's easier to tell which receiver is up, left, down, or right.
As a few final points for on-field control, there's also a new ability to bluff your coach's cam when on the field. If you're a hardcore Madden player you undoubtedly make use of the overhead play mapping that can be pulled up pre-snap. This is used to check holes for running, assign primary receivers, or just check on passing routes against defense. The problem there of course is that when playing against a local human opponent you're showing off your play seconds before running it. In Madden 08, simply hit the "fake coach's cam" button and it'll bring up a fake play. If you're running right, it'll show a primarily left-centric pass play. If you're going deep, it might show a small inside-cutting run play. For proof that this works we used it when playing an EA rep, and actually faked a deep pass, changing which receiver we were going to "throw" to, and then ran a wide right running play for the easy TD. As expected our human counterpart called a deep coverage audible, and the running lanes were wide open. This new addition to pre-snap play calling works, and it'll be a huge weapon for hardcore gamers.
Rubbing it in
Speaking of going big against human players, this year's Madden includes a Wii exclusive in-game replay function called the "Telestrator." Basically working like an instant replay with the ability to draw on screen, the Telestrator puts Madden's pen in your hand after big plays. When scoring a touchdown or pulling off a clutch interception a more complex version of the instant replay screen is brought up, with the IR changing to a marker on the fly. From there you'll have about 30 seconds or so to humiliate your opponent, drawing on the screen like Madden does and showing off exactly how you schooled them on the field.
All the camera options are available, so you can either use the Wii-mote and analog stick to position the shot how you want, or simply hit the "change camera" button to pull up computer-controlled TV-like camera angles. From there, just draw on the screen and make fun of your defeated rival. You'll have to move fast though, as the victim of the Telestrator can drum their Wii-mote and nunchuk to make your bragging time go down, speeding up the clock to about 8-10 seconds; a nice touch.
Working with the Telestrator for the first time was entertaining, but it definitely has a ways to go for it to be totally intuitive. Right now the IR cursor is a bit wonky (perhaps a problem due to having about 10 Wii's in the show's demo room), but it was a bit difficult to draw for the time being. We were still able to circle players and draw routes to degrade our opponent, but writing "Yer Teh Suxorz" wasn't exactly simple to do yet. For how polished the rest of the game is though, we've got faith that EA Canada will fix any wonky IR, and that the final version will be very intuitive.
Bring the Family
As with the other Wii EA Sports games this year, Madden 08 will include the new "Family Play" mode to better usher in non-gaming gridiron gangs. By simply unplugging the nunchuk from a controller you'll activate family play, which is EA's answer to a simper, more intuitive game of Madden. Players will use only the Wii-mote's motion control, doing stiff-arms, jumping for balls, kicking, and passing without the need for button presses. All other on-screen control is handled by computer-controlled players, so while you run a ball up the gut the computer will find the hole for you. All you need to do is stiff-arm or plow down a defender. When playing QB, just hike the ball, the AI scrambles for you, and gesture a throw to pass to the default receiver. Of course the ability to switch receivers is still there, but you don't need it to be effective. When play calling, either select your own plays or just "Ask Madden" with the press of a button. Madden 08 is still the most complex of the family play modes, but it's a hell of a lot easier than dealing with all the strategy and reaction speed of a hardcore game of Madden. My mom could play me in Madden 08, and with the AI turned up she may even give me a run for my money.
And then there are the mini-games. Over 30 will apparently be included in Madden, but right now "Party Mode" (where the magic happens) is on a need-to-know basis, and as much as we tried, we apparently don't need to know. What we do know though, is that all games will be four player, and most will revolve around the same kind of two-on-two drills or pseudo-game environment challenges from 07 - kicking combine says hello. EA also let us know that many of the challenges will be based on the training camp modes in the main game, so you'll be doing sprint runs or obstacle courses in a far more competitive environment. Other than that, we'll have to wait.
Details for the game's online system are also scarce at this point, but we do know that it's still based on an EA player tag, which either does or doesn't need to be created via friend code (that is apparently still in the works). Players can either face off against friends or randomly against like-ranked players worldwide, but there's apparently no tournament or season mode online. EA was kind enough to let us know that the EA Messenger will be included in the game though, so we assume you'll be able to keep in contact with previously-played rivals and friends via some kind of online message hub. EA also reaffirmed that constant stat-streaming will be included in Madden 08 for Wii, but wouldn't comment on automatic roster updates or Wii Connect 24 support. From what we can tell though, it's a definite possibility given the depth in Madden 08 so far. This year though, it's all about getting the game online for the first time, and polishing up the overall gameplay. Anyone looking for an incredibly deep online experience with Madden may want to set their sights on 09.
So until we see more, that's where we'll leave Madden 08. It's an amazing title yet again, and from what we've played it'll be well worth any Wii sporting fan's cash. You'll be getting stronger overall gameplay, better motion recognition, more party games, full Mii integration, online, family play, an exclusive Telestrator for rival-bashing goodness, and a deeper single player experience. There's more to Madden 08 than what we've seen thus far, but from what we've played already we're extremely confident that Madden 08 will surpass last year's effort. Forget the PS3/360 "Next Generation" efforts; Madden 08 for Wii is the closest thing to stepping out onto the field.