Reviewed by Jimmy | 09.12.06
Are you ready for some football? It's been almost a year and it's already Madden time once again. In EA Sports second run at the Xbox 360 we're hoping for a little bit more then the consoles first Madden outing. Does Madden 07 deliver the goods? Read on to find out in our review of Madden NFL '07.
You know what time of year it is, it's Madden time! EA Sports annual NFL franchise game is back with a few tweaks, a new game mode, and the same regurgitated Madden action. Madden 07 is your only NFL gaming option, so even if you're not the biggest fan, you'll probably still grab this years edition. It's a good thing Electronic Arts is moving in the right direction, and I'd have to say I'm happier with '07, then the first Xbox 360 version.
Madden 07 is beefed up and overhauled with concerns to the graphics, navigation and overall quality of realism. It seems like Madden is more focused with its high end polished interface, realistic details in concerns to the players, arenas, and environmental effects. Economical would be a good term to describe the feeling of the refined tab-styled navigation controls. Madden 07 looks great and they have captured a lot of the little details that go a long way in the overall presentation.
A Little Chug, For A Lot of Graphics
For more details into the graphics we have a wider range of animations, more player details, and I have to mention the nice digital grass. The collisions seem more in tuned then before which has always been one of my Madden nitpicks. All the extra detail and pretty graphics come with a price, and that price is evil game slowdown. For the most part Madden is pretty smooth, but between loading animations and picking plays it chugs. The slowdown doesn't ruin the experience, but it certainly hurts the flow of the game. At times I was even a little worried for my, nock on wood, problem free Xbox 360 disc drive. Madden is constantly loading and at times it took a few seconds to read the disc which I haven't experienced before until Madden 07.
It's Not TV
In concerns to the audio side of Madden we have an uninspired play-by-play announcing that really doesn't add anything to the overall feeling of Madden and the spots of silence definitely don't help make the game seem like the end product you watch on TV. Besides the mutable play-by-play the other effects are pretty decent. The on field sound is excellent and it really makes the players seem more alive. Along with this aspect the in game soundtrack is solid and for a bonus it's featured during the replays, nothing makes the action more intense then some rocking guitars.
Hit the Stick
Now, I've talked enough about the look and sounds of Madden, I'll have to get into the actual gameplay. Madden has a love hate premise with a lot of gamers when commenting about the games A.I., and I'm sure Madden 07 won't be exempt. For my vote the A.I. is a little more real in this years Madden, the computer doesn't seem that cheap and the games comes off more balanced and not so focused on offense. What else have changed are the controls in respect of the lead blocker controls. The highlight stick lead blocker controls help you have a little more play with smashing through the lines, or creating holes for a runner. It's not groundbreaking, but it's a nice addition and another step in the right direction for Madden.
Hits and Misses
For game modes Madden hits most marks, but sadly misses out once again on adding the Owner mode to the 360 version. I can accept the fantasy draft not being included, but the Owner mode is always a highlight to EA's sports games. Although, the new Superstar mode distracts me from this fact, it's not the same without it. The Superstar mode that I mentioned is probably this year's biggest addition which lets you experience the game from the field. You basically create a player, run him through a mini-game training camp, then enter the big leagues and hope for the best. Really, the superstar mode is like a new game because you play from the first person perspective which is really interesting and intense and you work you're way from team to team trying to get the big bucks, earn respect, and hit that Pro Football Hall of Fame. Every gamer needs to check out this mode and I even believe that the Superstar mode might even convert non-football gamers into fans because its that new and interesting.
Madden has returned with a more solid offering for the Xbox 360. Fans will have lots to talk about this time around and the new features are all welcomed changes. I'm sure most Madden fanatics have already played a few season through by now, but for the others curious about this years Madden, it's not flawless, but it's worth the purchase. Until next year, this is as good as its going to get.