Madden 2008 first impressions…

Okay, I got my hot little hands on a copy of Madden ’08 for the PS3. Here’s what I think so far.

First, the game is smooth. Damn smooth. Very good-looking. The playcalling is a bit more complex, but improved.

The most annoying thing about this game is that Madden and Michaels are no longer in it. Just annoying generic play-by-play TV announcer guy — and no color guy. Closest thing to a celebrity voice in the game is Marshall Faulk, who introduces each game.

Okay, now to the meat of the matter — Madden ’08 has gotten insanely complex. They have introduced this thing called “weapons” — Smart QB (Peyton Manning or Tom Brady), Power D-Lineman, stuff like that. Each of these have special moves you can use.

For instance, a “Smart QB” will come up to the line with a little light bulb underneath him. You hit L1 and he starts to read the play. If you run the same play against a “Smart QB” too much, he’ll recognize the defense eventually (it’ll show up on your screen, all diagrammed).

And that’s just one weapon…

Okay, the other bad news — they have changed the controls a little bit, and it’s annoying. Remember the great old “hit that X button to run like a power back”? No, now it’s R2 for speed and the right analog stick forward (the “Truck Stick”, it’s been around before) to run. Juking and everything is still there, don’t worry.

The replays are truly excellent now; the graphics are great. And you definitely want to be playing this one in HD. Franchise mode has been improved and reworked and is a bit more fun.

Belicheck still won’t let himself be put in the game. 😉

As far as I know, there are no roster updates available for the game yet.

Oh, and for us Pats fans — the Patriots are now insanely good. Out of a 0-99 ranking, the Pats are ranked at *98* overall. Once again, all this enthusiasm for the Pats is starting to scare me…

There’s also a really cool minigame where you get to be Michael Vick and throw a dog against a wall until it’s dead…oh wait, sorry, no.

However, in All-Pro Football 2k8, the competing franchise from 2K sports, you can play O.J. Simpson. He plays for a fantasy team called “The Assassins”.

I am not making that up.

Madden ’08 gets a B+ from me. If the interface was cleaner and things were a little simpler, I’d bump that up to an A/A-. I mean, come on, it’s Madden. You know it rocks.

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