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Madden NFL 08 PC Review

By: Nathan Davison | Sports in Gaming | Posted: Sep 11, 2007 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 7.0%Developer and / or Publisher: EASports

[img]madden08_pc_3[/img]If EA did opt to port the new 360/PS3 engine to the PC for 08, we'd be talking about a completely different game. Now, in fairness, Madden on the PC is not a very large seller, and for those who do buy it, chances are their PC specs aren't in the same range as your average FPS enthusiast. I know it's a stereotype that I myself defy, but people who enjoy sports gaming on the PC are generally not the type of gamers you'd expect to see spending time inside their system BIOS tweaking RAS and CAS memory
timings, or eagerly awaiting news on the next Forceware driver release while keeping an eye on the CPU market for the optimal time to upgrade to Core 2 Quad. With this in mind, the average Madden PC gamer's PC specs may not be suitable for the new engine just yet, so it's not hard to see why EA have so far refrained from porting their new engine across for Madden, or any other EA Sports PC title for that matter.


However, there is really no excuse for the neglect Madden on the PC has been subject to when it comes to its own optimization. Features like online franchises to take advantage of the PC platform's Internet capabilities are still absent despite years and years of requests from PC gamers, IP to IP multiplayer games are still limited to default game sliders, and custom team franchises are still not supported. And as far as the visuals and engine goes, well, when the PS2 engine was first ported around
Madden 2002, it reached the peak of PC hardware at the time, but outside of a few 3D model tweaks over the years and uniform updates to reflect the NFL, little else has been done since, and we're talking Madden 08 here people. Graphics are not everything in sports gaming, but when a game can run at max quality with hardware from the Pentium 3 era, something is just not right.

There is one very welcome visual enhancement to 08 PC however, and that is the inclusion of widescreen resolutions, which is actually quite
a big deal for those who run WS on their PC as football is one of those games where more visual real estate has a direct influence on the gameplay. Even so, it's only a tiny aspect to what otherwise is a very under whelming PC gaming experience. If Capcom can port Lost Planet to PC with DX10 features a few months after the 360 release, what does it say about EA Sports' dedication to the PC platform when you consider Madden PC has gone without a real PC specific overhaul for more than half a decade?


With all this in mind though, for those gamers that want gameplay over aesthetics, the old PS2 version of Madden up until Madden 08 had still been the most authentic feeling replication of the NFL, and Madden 08 PC extends this reality for another year. The wasted potential is definitely off putting, but the game is extremely [img]madden08_pc_4[/img]fluid and smooth flowing regardless of its neglect, offering gameplay that just "feels" right. Say what you want about the old PS2/Xbox and PC version of Madden, but it
still plays a very good game of football and if you were to ask most NFL gaming fans about Madden 07, chances are the majority will agree that the best version was the "current gen" version, and seeing as the best "current gen" version is logically the PC version, it's not hard to see why Madden 08 PC is still a really good game, and it isn't hard to understand why someone would consider it to be the best version out there for another year.


The biggest reason for this besides the solid gameplay and proven feel is the simple fact Madden 08 PC is a 'complete' experience. By this, I mean every big feature from every Madden prior is still here, whether it be the defensive hot routes, the offensive line shifts, the vision cone, or the detailed formation subs. Every single mode you can imagine is here, and everything else the "new engine" doesn't have but the "old engine" did is also still here. If you're a franchise mode buff,
then this really is the version for you because while 08 PC has basically seen no new features for this mode whatsoever (including, unfortunately, some classic bugs that still haven't been fixed such as the non-existent player fatigue in simulated games), it is still the best franchise mode out there when it comes to Madden. A lot of people have been caught up with the 360 and PS3 version of Madden, but the reality is, the old game is still seemingly too good for EA to fully replicate on the new
consoles, even with 08.


Another huge reason why Madden 08 PC is a good game and quite likely the best version for the real NFL gaming enthusiast is because of something EA don't control at all - the Madden PC editing community. EA do release roster updates themselves reasonably regularly, but as any Madden PC gamer will tell you, they are often quite inaccurate and are prone to a lot of questionable player rating decisions. Each and every year there seems to be a host of PC gamers who make their own rosters and thanks to community
input that combines fan knowledge for every team, they are usually very accurate and superior to the EA offering. On top of this, the editing community with the aid of roster and franchise file editors can provide rookie draft classes, updates to player portraits, the ability to import custom teams into franchise mode, as well as work around solutions to some of the game's bugs and inaccuracies, such as enhancing the realism in simulated statistics and mass tweaking of player ratings. There is no doubting
that if you want more control over your NFL gaming, Madden on the PC is the way to go. In many ways, Madden 08 PC is the ideal version for the savvy football gaming enthusiast wanting to combine more realism without sacrificing the fun of the Madden gameplay style.


Madden 08 PC is a tough nut to crack. On one hand, you have a game that is remarkably like 07 PC, and this is very disappointing for those PC Madden fans who had hoped EA would, if not port the 360 version over, at the very least do something to finally bring the PC version into the modern age of PC gaming. On the other hand however, you have a game that plays very, very well, and in all honesty, I would not be surprised if the "old engine" as seen in 08 PC yet again ultimately reigns supreme over
the "next gen engine" when it comes to realistic, authentic feeling NFL gameplay. The problem is, if you have 07 PC, there just isn't enough to warrant a purchase of 08 unless you are savvy enough with the series to appreciate the minor additions the game has to offer, in which case you'll likely already have a copy of the game by now anyway. Madden NFL 08 PC is quite possibly the best all-round complete Madden that EA have ever produced, but at the same time, it's somehow the
weakest improvement from the year prior in the history of the series, and once again, NFL fans on the PC are left to dream about what could have been.


Check out Football-Freaks.com for a great Madden PC editing and discussion community.

[img]madden08_pc_5[/img][img]madden08_pc_6[/img]

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