March Madness 08 hands-on and gameplay videos

Posted November 6th, 2007 at 3:23 am

March Madness 08

IGN has posted up a hands-on preview as well as three new gameplay videos. Below are a few excerpts and my thoughts on them.

The intensity controls that were in last year’s title are back again, and perform pretty much identically. You can still build up your intensity meter in an effort to rile up the crowd, your teammates, the other team, or yourself with a quick press of the left bumper and a flick of the right stick.

I liked that to a certain extent last year. It helped make the atmosphere arguably the best of a sports game to date, but it also felt a little gimmicky in how it was activated. At times I was concentrating more on building up the meter than I was just playing the game naturally.

Another newcomer to the feature set is the in-season recruiting that pigskin aficionados will remember from this season’s NCAA Football. While the recruiting options don’t run nearly as deep in March Madness, you’ll still have the ability to assign certain tasks to your coaches in order to coax a player to come to your school.

Thats always a welcome option. Personally I prefer not to deal with the minuscule aspects of a dynasty mode.

New to this year’s game are classic teams, a 30-year dynasty mode that has an all-new “School Pride” feature that looks to add an awesome layer of depth to the mode that can make or break any sports game.

IGN describes the “school pride” feature as pretty much the same as it was last year, so I’m not sure what is “all-new” about it. I’m hoping to get a complete list of the classic teams in the near future.

Continue on for more and to watch the videos.

With all of this boasting about new features, one might be left to wonder what kind of gameplay enhancements the folks at EA Canada have made. For starters you’ll find the same low-post moves that were in NBA Live, so you’ll have the ability to a pull off a nice set of jukes, spins, and hook shots with your big men. The counter to this move, and this is something that wasn’t nearly as prevalent in NBA Live 08, is the ability to hold down the left trigger and take a charge. The computer had a serious propensity at taking a charge, or at least making the attempt. The AI seemed to have roughly a fifty-fifty shot at success, but the fact that they attempted it so often was slightly disconcerting.

Dynamic Post Play sounds great. The post play was a strength of Live and the addition of having more options on the defensive side should make the experience that much more rewarding.

Fans of the sport will also be happy to know that online leagues are making their way — finally — into March Madness 08. Thirty-two of your buddies (not up to the full 64 just yet) can hop online and join up in a league and battle against one another. We can’t speak to the functionality of the feature since we obviously don’t know thirty-one other players who own the game, but the fact that EA Sports is including online leagues in the ’08 crop of titles is a respectable, albeit long overdue, move.

Sounds like this is the same glorified tournaments that Live and NHL 08 had. Not that a true league system would have much success anyway but these setups have proven to be pretty much worthless. A 64 team tournament would’ve made more sense and been utilized by more people.

Aside from the new low-post abilities (though even those have been seen in other games prior) there really isn’t a whole lot that’s new and unique to March Madness 08. The fluidity of the game was still lacking a bit, but we’re hoping that will be remedied by the time the game ships. The speed of the game should also be ratcheted up a notch before December 18 hits, as it stands things just don’t move as quickly as a real collegiate game.

I’ll be frustrated if the game plays too slow. I prefer the pacing of Live and didn’t feel that March Madness 07 was flawed in how fast the game played.