March Madness 08 initial impressions

Posted December 9th, 2007 at 10:26 am


After having played over the last two days I wanted to get my basic impressions of the game down. I still have more I’d like to experiment with such as the difficulty levels and sliders along with online play. I’ll be playing some more and posting a few additional videos late tonight and on Monday. So here are my thoughts on March Madness 08 so far.

Overall I am enjoying the game but there are some things that take away from that which I’ll get into. I feel like the more I play it the better it gets and the more nice things I come across. It definitely takes some patience to adjust to though. As I get comfortable with the controls, slower pace, and low post concentration I have gotten more satisfaction out of having successful possessions.

The low post play is incredible. This is really one of the biggest advancements I’ve experienced in a sports game because it has completely changed the way I play on both offense and defense. I look forward to the opportunity to make moves down low or counter the opposition’s while on defense. It practically becomes a game within the game.

The game speed still feels unnaturally slow. I don’t really feel much difference from the demo on the default settings. The game speed may be slightly faster, but it isn’t something that anyone who was frustrated with it is going to feel was a significant adjustment.

What the slower speed does is force you to work in the half court. That ends up highlighting the best part of the game which is the low post play.

Fast breaks do occur but they are pretty rare and from what I’ve experienced tend to only happen when stealing the ball on the perimeter. When you do get out in front there isn’t that sense of speed that you would expect from a fast break.

With the concentration down low this year it almost feels a little unbalanced as outside shooting has been less successful in comparison. I’ve been shooting low percentages from three-point range and open looks have been rare in the first place. It somewhat feels like the spacing is a little tight and the passing not quick enough to counter that. With the difficulty level bumped up it may not be as easy to score with the low post moves, but that isn’t going to open up the outside shooting.

The passing down to the low post is excellent but elsewhere it is a crapshoot. Several times I figured I was directing towards a certain player but it passed to someone in a completely different area. Using the RB for the icon passing while using the same button for alley-oops is still a baffling decision to me. Something has to be done about that in the future.

There is a green circle that appears down low under a player when there is a mismatch. It will probably be something that is overlooked but I really like having that. It may not be necessary to have it in an NBA game, but in the college game it is far less likely that the user will be able to identify mismatches on their own. Not only does it give you the opportunity to take advantage of the mismatches while on offense, but you can see them while on defense too and send help.

As mentioned in the Q&A fatigue is turned off. This isn’t a big deal to me because I wouldn’t be looking to run with a deep rotation and I know very few of the players anyway. Plus with the slower game speed I’ve found that I tend to use turbo excessively out of necessity. You can always turn it on if you want it.

One thing that has bothered me on occasion (you can see a few instances in the videos) have been whistles but getting no explanation of what it they were for. One specific instance I remember is I passed to a player in the key and almost immediately there was the whistle. I assumed the defender had reached in and got called for a foul. The announcers didn’t say what had happened and all of the sudden the opposition was inbounding the ball.

The commentary is good and the addition of Erin Andrews is a nice touch. However there is one line that Dick Vitale keeps repeating having to do with the inside-outside game. I’m already sick of it and I haven’t even played that much.

There is still that delay after a pump fake before you can make a move. Usually the end result is the same but it just doesn’t look as natural as it should.

There have been a couple games where I’ve experienced a glitch that when the plays are pulled up and you try and select one but they stay up on the screen and don’t respond.

I haven’t tried any other camera angles but the options are: broadcast, classic, overhead, sideline, skybox, and floor. You can adjust the camera pitch, focal length (zoom) and turn on or off the post zoom.

As far as I can tell there are just the basic home and away jerseys for each team, and then the throwbacks for those that have classic teams in the game.

Below are screens of the default sliders. Click the thumbnails to view the full size images.

mm08settings2.jpg mm08settings2b.jpg

mm08settings3.jpg mm08settings3b.jpg

Overall at this point I still prefer NBA Live 08 over March Madness 08. The post game is the only thing that I like more about MM08, however that is something significant. There is still a ways to go as I haven’t been able to play online including getting named rosters with the EA Locker and for many people the dynasty mode is important. Gameplay wise it is starting to grow on me with each one I play, especially once I moved the game speed slider up. We’ll see how I feel on Monday night after having played some more when I do my coverage wrap-up.