Madden NFL 08 Wii Review

They say that we’re wasting our time playing games: rotting our brains away, ruining our eyes, straining our joints and not learning a single thing of any real importance. Hang on a moment though, gaining a knowledge of the glorified game of Rugby that the American’s oddly call Football is something that the Madden series has gave us in recent years. We learned that the sport has far too many stoppages, although if you have any knowledge of the sport these halts in play do actually make some sense.

American Football is so dangerous that all players wear helmets and shoulder pads, although some still end up with concussions, brain damage and paralysis. With such a lot to deal with it’s good to see that EA have equipped the best NFL players with weapons this year. No, this does not mean that everyone on the field is carrying firearms, but is one of Madden NFL 08’s biggest new features. We’re talking about the Read and React system, wherein many of the players now boast skills (or weapons to agree with EA’s titling) that can aid your perilous journey to the end zone or to keep the door shut on opponents attempting to achieve that same ultimate goal of touching the ball down. Some players are speedy, un-clumsy with the ball in their hands, whilst others have the asset of inflicting some big hits on the opposition, are exceptionally accurate with their kicking prowess, or are smart at reading the play, and on and on it goes. Symbols let you instantly recognise the skills of any key players, and it’s then up to you to craft mismatches to ruin your opponents day.

The Read and React feature may be the most impacting one this year, although It’s not the only brand new feature to speak of.

Receiver Spotlight allows you to highlight any of the opposing receivers to assure solid coverage, although obviously to put the emphasis on one player gives you weaknesses in certain areas, but it does do you a favour if one of the receivers has been giving you the mother of all headaches for the entire game.

The controls of Madden 08 are obviously pretty complex whatever console you choose to play it on, given that the sport itself is also so. The Wii version tries its best to minimise this complexity with the addition of the family play controls. Whereas the more advanced controls employ both the remote and the nunchuck on the Wii, family play involves only the remote, allowing you to pass the ball, use tackles and whatnot, although the control scheme leaves the movement of your players to the AI. Here, the Wii’s motion controls work really well whether you’re using family-play or the more advanced controls with the nunchuck plugged in.

The Wii version can also be played online for the very first time and as an seemingly obligatory feature of a game featured on the console, it also includes an exclusive party mode. There’s 23 mini games to choose from for up to four players which range from ball catches, passes, and in a favourite of ours, field goals in which your opponent can control the wind to send your ball on an unintended travel. There’s even some trivia questions, and if you’re wondering: no we have no idea which was the last team to win consecutive super bowls, nor do we know who was the first player drafted in 2006 or which team has an orange C on its helmet. This writer hasn’t got that far yet, and he doubts that he will ever graduate to an NFL trivia expert.

We may not know much about the NFL, but we do know that Madden NFL 08 is a fantastic game. The Wii version may have far fewer polygons than its 360 and PS3 counterparts, although it does have its really enjoyable motion controls and a generous amount of party games. Thanks to its forward-thinking progress, this years Madden is certainly a big hit with us.