In last year's debut of Madden on the Nintendo Wii, Madden 07 actually made a decent splash onto the scene, with surprisingly tight controls with the remote and the same reliable Madden formula. It by no means looked like a next-gen game, but the controls were innovative and fun, making for a good overall game.
This year, Madden 08 hopes to continue with this formula and give us another pigskin treat. The best news for this year is that the franchise mode is back, and it is a bit more fleshed out for the hardcore Madden player. There are, however, some other features and modes that have been nixed this year that seemed to have been a given to be in the game (such as create a team). Hopefully this is only a one-year thing, and these will be back for next year.
As far as the visuals for Madden 08 are concerned, they are what we have come to expect from sports games on the Wii. Dated. The players all look very generic and rather blocky, not to mention that they are all about the same size. The environments and stadiums are decent, but definitely nothing special. Overall, the graphics are probably at about a Gamecube level. Even with the dated graphics, the animations actually manage to hold together quite nicely.
The sound in this year's title is what we've come to expect from EA sports titles, and that's a good thing. The soundtrack is lively and diverse, and will keep your head bobbing. In the game itself, the sound effects are realistic and detailed, and very believable. I've always thought that for sound, the goal is not to notice it. EA has succeeded here-it sounds like a football game.
As far as the gameplay goes, it is virtually the same as in Madden 07 on the Wii. If you played that one, you won't notice much of anything new here. You'll still be throwing, juking, kicking, and more by executing flicks of the remote. It is even just a little bit tighter than last year, and for the most part very responsive. You'll still get the frustrating sensation of non-response every now and then, but it is not as frequent as last year.
For the not-so-hardcore gamer, Madden 08 has a new mode called Family Play. In this mode you'll use only the Wii remote. The game will do the running and everything for you-all you have to do is perform the moves when the time comes. It greatly simplifies the game, making it more accessible to any kind of gamer.
EA has thrown a couple of nice additions our way this year. The most obvious and demanded addition is online play, which allows you to match up with a buddy or a stranger and go head to head. It works ok, but there are some problems with the servers (as can be expected with some of the first online games) that will hopefully be fixed up soon. There is also a new Party mode that is actually very entertaining, and provides a nice break from the standard football game. In this mode, you've got a trivia game, mini-game tournaments (the mini-games are mostly the same ones you've seen in the past, with a couple new ones thrown in), and a new telestrator mode. The telestrator, if you're not familiar with the word, is the white pen the analysts use during football games to mark on the screen. It is a great addition, and adds a lot of extra fun here and there.
The biggest addition to the actual gameplay this year is the "weapons." Your weapons are star players on your team that can be used to make big plays in big situations that couldn't otherwise be made. For example, you might have Terrell Owens leap up and make an impossible catch on 3rd and long, or Dante Hall stick with a speedy receiver and break up a big play. It is a really nice and realistic addition as it gives star players the potential impact they really do have.
You'll probably spend most of your time in the familiar superstar mode, where you'll take a player from rags to riches. You'll do interviews, train, and try to work your way into the Hall of Fame over an illustrious career. It's the same mode you've played before, but it's still as fun as ever.
Overall, Madden 08 on the Wii is still a good game. The controls, though unchanged from last year's entry, work very well on the Wii. The addition of online play is huge, and the Party mode and Family Play make the game playable to newbies, though may be annoying space-fillers to experienced Madden players. The game still is not much to look at, however, and still does not even come close to the other next-gen versions in terms of options, creating players and teams, etc. If you're new to the series and looking for some fun, go pick this one up, but if you're a hardcore Maddenite, I'd recommend going with one of the other two next-gen versions.