Madden 09: Why even Europeans will love it

The seasoned veterans, though, will then be able to watch (if they want to) another set of replays. It's absurd how detailed and descriptive these are - it was hard to believe that we weren't watching a scripted, pre-prepared piece of footage, but there it was, occuring dynamically out of the unpredictable action on screen.

Replays will, for instance, go to the length of placing down on the field a projection of the play you chose, then tracking the runs of each player in that move. We were genuinely impressed. But, even after all that, Madden 09 had one more controversial ace hidden up its padded sleeve...

Say you've failed a pass. You watch the replay, it talks you through exactly why you failed, and points out that one runner was free and shows you the pass you should have made. Well, you think, I'd like to try that again please. And with Madden 09 you can - just by hitting a button.

This option allows you to effectively replay each 'play' that occurs as often and as many times as you like. It's like amulliganin golf, a second chance. Or third, or fourth if you really want. Then you can redo the play as advised by the commentators (each replay rewrites what happened, so there's no going back - only going again). And, crucially, learn directly from your own mistakes.

It's a very similar system to that used inthe new Tiger Woods, and we're stoked by it. There are, of course, suggestions that it could be abused - most specifically in multiplayer. There's an option to restrict the feature, though, and we'd be surprised if mulligans are offered in multiplayer or in the single player career strand.

But, still, it's a great feature. As is the Madden IQ and the slow unlocking of each option. And the crazily detailed replays. If you hadn't noticed, Madden 09 has successfully piqued our interest in this hulking sport. Now we can see the glorious gameplay beneath the maddeningly detailed surface. We can see the brilliance, and the excitement.

Which is why, unless our upcoming hands-on drastically changes our feelings,2008 ought really to bethe year that everyone, and we mean everyone,should finally swallow their doubts and give Madden atry. Expect more info soon.