A mediocre March Madness ’08

Sports videogames are a unique genre. Each year developers must make a reason for the consumer to purchase the newest game, as updated rosters generally do not warrant a $60 purchase. While new features are inevitably boasted, a lot of times the new features aren’t what one would expect.

Unfortunately for March Madness ’08, the new features EA Sports speaks of are nothing to write home about. Offensive post play has been tweaked to, as EA claims, feel more like a mini-game. Defensively players can switch their footing to be on either side of the ball.

While the new features are a welcomed addition, they are not what the franchise needs to turn the corner to truly give the College Hoops series a run for its money.

March Madness is still hindered by relatively choppy game play and a slow, clumsy control scheme. While turning the games-speed up in the slider menu does seem to help things a bit, the game simply feels too much like a videogame and not enough like a simulation, which is what most fans are looking for in a game such as this one.

Additionally, the ball physics will need to be reworked for next year, as the animations are definitely lacking and serves as another point that takes away from realism.

Game controls continue to be overly simplistic. The right analog stick serves the basic one-on-one moves with the ball, but the lack of available moves leaves much to be desired. EA continues to refuse to bring the shooting mechanic into the next generation, as a tap of a button is all it takes for a shot, no timing required. The only sense the user must have is that the shooters feet are set and that there is nobody to block the shot, and after that it is up to that particular player’s shooting-stats for the chance that a bucket will fall.

Graphically March Madness is mediocre at best. While a snapshot of the game may be aesthetically appeasing, the clumsy movement by players really takes away from any eye candy that could be enjoyed on next-generation consoles.

St. John’s fans may be disappointed to find that Carnesecca Arena is not featured in the game. While Madison Square Garden is represented relatively authentically, playing a team like Niagra at the Worlds Most Famous Arena (in front of a sell-out crowd, no less) just doesn’t seem realistic.

Dick Vitale and Brad Nessler return and offer up a solid job in commentary, as has been tradition in recent years of the March Madness franchise. A new addition to the team for this year is Erin Andrews, who also is solid with providing further insight into the action.

While online, the game offers 32-team leagues, however one has to wonder about the traditionally unstable EA servers.

March Madness ’08 is good for the franchise to build upon. However, three years into the new generation of consoles, it’s time to take the rebuilding to the next level.