Thoughts on the March Madness 08 demo and videos

Posted November 19th, 2007 at 12:07 pm


After playing through the demo a few more times my impressions of it are below. I’ve also recorded the full demo played through two times and added those videos for everyone to watch.

Ever since the info on March Madness 08 started coming out they’ve been pushing the idea of how they slowed the game speed down. That concerned me heading into the demo because it almost felt as if they were conditioning people for it so that it wouldn’t be such a major shock in how different the game was going to flow. It turns out that those concerns were warranted.

The slow game speed really overshadows all the positives and seems to me to be at the root of most of the issues. Everything is really deliberate and heavy and the animations don’t blend as well as expected. That has led into a frustrating feeling while playing.

There are a lot of things that feel as if they tie into the overall slowness. The passing seems to be a little unresponsive, almost as if there is a slight delay after pressing the button. There is a delay then jump into it when attempting a pump fake and drive, crossover, or really any right stick move. There have been times where I’ve run towards the sideline and stopped/cut back and because of the slowness it took me out of bounds. I don’t feel like I have the same control over my shots, with several instances where I was attempting to shoot a fadeaway or lean-in and it the player just went straight up or actually went for something looking like a layup from a little too far out. There is no sense of a fast break or quickness when trying to drive to the basket. I can actually think through it as I’m trying to get past a defender: “I might have some room here to get to the hoop, okay I’m parallel with him now looks like I can get by him, alright I’m by him now I’ll lay it in.”

I still don’t understand the decision to use one button for two different commands. EA continues to put the alley-oop and direct pass on the same button (RB). So you still have to hold down the RB before the passing icons appear. If you try to do it too quick you’ll end up with accidental alley-oop attempts.

There are several aspects of the game that I really like. The post play is excellent, really no basketball game has come near the level that MM08 has in this area. Graphics and player models are done really well done. It is difficult to judge the crowd because the demo is based off a first half, but that will likely be another strength. The commentary is very good and the addition of Erin Andrews makes it even better. The rebounding has improved although it still looks a little unnatural at times. The net animations and dunking have both really gotten better. The player’s fatigue was really drained by the end of the half which is nice to see but hopefully it accounts for the length of the half and we don’t end up with dead tired players after five minutes on the court. Part of it probably has to do with the urge to turbo at all times.

While the March Madness team is seeking out feedback, a release date of December 11th means it is too late to see any major changes and probably even any minor tweaks. With the Q&A testing and certification process leading into the game going gold (which will likely happen sometime this week or next) the demo arrived too late for it to be used to take feedback and apply it to the game. That means that unfortunately it appears it will be mostly representative of the final product. Although a demo is from an earlier build (probably from a few weeks prior to the final one) something such as the game speed would’ve been unlikely to change.

The positivity surrounding the title with the focus on the Dynamic Post Play, Classic teams, and a price reduction to $50 may very well have been wiped out due to this disappointing demo. What it comes down to for me is that it has technical advancements over NBA Live 08 and March Madness 07 but simply isn’t as fun.