Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Madden NFL 08

Madden NFL 08

Fall 2008 Video Games
Ages: All Ages
Producer: Electronic Arts
Price: $49.99
Gaming System: Nintendo Wii
Review:
What can you say about Madden NFL? That it's consistently the best and most popular pro football game out there-and the only one since Electronic Arts bought exclusive NFL video-gaming rights? That it struggles to get better and upgrade its own success each year? Sure.

But most of the tweaks and changes that distinguish one edition to the next that are so meaningful to hardcore game players and Madden fanatics really don't matter much to casual or younger players except in improving the overall game experience. Still, the 2008 Wii version, the second installment on Nintendo's kid-friendly system, has changed in some important ways.

The graphics, for instance, have been bumped up a notch and look better than last year. While Wii graphics still lag behind the other consoles, compared to most Wii games Madden's are good. Controls have been tightened up for the better. There's also a new "Player Weapons" feature--not to worry, parents, these are football weapons using an icon system that lets gamers know play-by-play which particular on-screen players have the big-play capabilities for that situation (speed, power, etc.).

And Madden for Wii gives game players plenty to do. The Franchise mode, Superstar mode, Trivia mode, a host of fun mini-games (including YAC Attack, Kicking Combine, 2-on-2, Precision Passing and Chase and Tackle) and new online play mode takes the game deeper

Younger players may especially get hooked on the improved Superstar Challenge mode, which lets them create a rookie with certain attributes, then bring him through the process of becoming a professional football player, from signing with an agent to doing workout drills to getting into games and, eventually, going to the Hall of Fame. The Party mode is just that-more on-hand (not online) players playing together. Wii players can now play online against opponents nationwide-though communications with opponents is via pre-set phrases and not a chat mode which, for younger kids who don't need to hear the trash talk and potty mouth that sometimes goes on in online chat modes, is probably safer. Of course, what distinguishes the Wii version from Xbox 360 (best overall Madden experience for serious gamers) and PS3 is the unique remote motion-sensing controls. When it comes to passing the football and other game-play moves, gamers actually go through some of the motions and mechanics of playing football to make on-screen football players mimic their actions. Pretty cool, especially since it makes the game play a little more intuitive and interactive for youngsters who want to "play" football and not just use couch-potato thumb controls.

EA has added a Family Play option as well which takes most of the intense control-everything game play out of the hands of the player and lets them focus on passing, delivering big hits, stiff-arming defenders, swatting and kicking the ball, and juking tacklers using the motion-sensing remotes. Call it Training-Wheels Madden (not for experienced Madden fans, in other words), it means more physical action for little kids and the whole family while the game's artificial intelligence engine takes care of the rest. Overall, despite some little glitches and improvements EA needs to tend to in future Wii-based Maddens, this is a great football-game experience for Wii players offering a lot more than most other Wii games.

Don Oldenburg   ©2008 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

Look for this product at:
Electronic Arts
http://www.beta.easports.com
Major, Specialty & Online Retailers

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