Plugged In

With the first full week of the NFL behind us, it’s officially time for football. And time for football video games. Since I’m a little late to the party with these reviews, I thought I’d go ahead and condense all three major gridiron releases for the Xbox 360 — NCAA 08, Madden 08 and All-Pro Football 2K8 — into one take. Consider this your one-stop shop for all things pigskin.NCAA 08

The good: Deep dynasty mode featuring a revamped recruiting model; smooth gameplay and a ton of new animations. The bad: No alternate uniforms; poorly implemented menu system. The bottom line: If you’re a college football fan, there’s no good reason not to pick up NCAA 08. EA Sports’ game is light-years ahead of last year’s offering, and the improved frame rate really quickens the gameplay and puts control back into the user’s hands. That’s a good thing. Score: 8.5/10.

ALL-PRO FOOTBALL 2K8

The good: The best gameplay of this year’s releases; plenty of create-a-team options; online leagues; great assortment of football legends. The bad: No NFL license; no dynasty or career mode; graphics not up to par with other 2K Sports titles. The bottom line: The spiritual successor to NFL 2K5, this game overcomes the lack of real NFL players or teams by offering the goods where it counts most — on the field. The choice to go with former NFL stars works great and provides a nice bit of nostalgia for longtime football fans like myself. Score: 8.5/10.

MADDEN 08

The good: The best next-gen Madden experience to date; fleshed-out franchise mode and owner’s mode; gameplay is tight and responsive; emphasis on weapons adds a strategic element. The bad: Gameplay plagued by an abundance of turnovers; no online leagues; CPU doesn’t challenge calls. The bottom line: Chances are, if you’re a football fan you’ve already picked up your copy of Madden. If you’re still on the fence, rest assured that this isn’t the same steaming pile of poo that we’ve had to play the past two seasons. Madden 08 is actually fun to play. This franchise finally seems headed in the right direction. Also, don’t dismiss the Wii version of Madden 08. The motion controls are tight, the new Family Play mode is great for beginners and the mini-games are plentiful. Score: 8.3/10.