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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

December 11, 2007

 

 

- Still a strong college hoops title with plenty of deep features

- Can unlock more than 70 classic teams, including former champion squads from UCLA, Duke and North Carolina

- Xbox Live play is as good as before, and now allows for new online leagues

 

 

- Isn’t much of an upgrade from last year’s version

- Lackluster announcing presentation

- Has some new additions, but doesn’t make the same forward progress as NBA Live 08

 

 

Review: NCAA March Madness 07 (360)

Review: NBA Live 08 (360)

Review: NHL 08 (360)

 

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NCAA March Madness 08

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

march madness 08          march madness 08

 

College basketball always had a more exciting aura to it compared to the pro NBA game, especially when one considers the thrills elicited from the most electrifying championship tournament in sports, March Madness. Electronic Arts has always done well in capturing much of that tourney’s exhilaration with its NCAA March Madness franchise. EA does once again with NCAA March Madness 08 on the Xbox 360, although the magic of the virtual championship chase is somewhat diminished by a lack of new gameplay features. Even with its supposed “freshness”, NCAA March Madness 08 seems to be nothing but a minor upgrade of last year’s game, although when the final buzzer sounds, NCAA March Madness 08 is still a good college basketball experience.

 

In light of the nice leap forward made by NBA Live 08 in its overall gameplay, NCAA March Madness 08 sticking close to its predecessor’s formula is a slight

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disappointment. Still, there are some new wrinkles in NCAA March Madness 08. There’s a refreshed offensive game due to the Dynamic Post Control. Gamers will have more finesse moves in the post at their disposal, although it will take some acclimation to learn to use them effectively, particularly if playing with a less-than-powerhouse squad from the 326

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available in the game.

 

On the defensive end, NCAA March Madness always had a much more simulation-style gameplay than its NBA relative. That changed for this year’s NBA Live, while remaining the same in NCAA March Madness 08.

 

More simulation-heavy features include an enhanced Lockdown Stick along with the returning Floor General Playcalling, creating realistic college hoops gameplay. But it’s hard to disseminate any really noticeable gameplay improvement, as again, much of what was seen in the previous NCAA March Madness title doesn’t seem to receive a true upgrading. Although that’s not necessarily a negative, because NCAA March Madness 07 wasn’t a completely bad game to begin with, so even a small upgrade may be reason enough to attract NCAA March Madness ’07 gamers to this year’s game.

 

march madness 08          ncaa march madness 08

 

Other noteworthy “deepening” of features occurs in the game’s Dynasty and online modes. Via Xbox Live, the game plays similarly to last year, but now allows for the organizing of online leagues. Much like other EA Sports titles through the years, NCAA March Madness 08 brings nostalgia into the mix, with over 70 classic teams, including former champion squads from UCLA, Duke and North Carolina , being playable.

 

Presentation values still are very good, although the announcing team is a conundrum. While the tandem of Brad Nessler and Dick Vitale are good, there’s way too much repletion in their phraseology and play-calling during the course of a single contest.

 

NCAA March Madness 08 definitely gives it the old college try and is still a solid college basketball game overall, but just the act of trying to be great isn’t good enough, particularly when there’s not much of an upgrade from its predecessor in the franchise. Gamers who have played both last year’s and this year’s EA college hoops game will see that it has made some small progress in its gameplay and available features. But nowhere near the significant improvement made by NBA Live 08 and certainly not enough to be waving any championship banners of gaming greatness when directly compared to 2K Sports’ College Hoops 2K8.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(December 28, 2007)

 

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