Madden 07

Xbox 360

Review by Matt Paprocki

EA Sports


Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 7


Expectations can be a tricky thing. For Madden fans that spent the money on EA Sport's first attempt at NFL football on the Xbox 360, they were less than satisfied. Missing features, little gameplay adjustments, and an under whelming graphics engine were promised to fixed in the 2007 edition. For the most part, they have been. Compared to the other versions on lesser consoles though, 360 owners still get stuck with a lesser effort.

madden071_360.jpg (562957 bytes)For all of its flashy, sparkling logos, fresh soundtrack, and live ESPN score ticker, this next generation version of Madden stumbles immediately. The menus look great, but they're nearly impossible to navigate. Nearly every button, including the analog sticks, does something to move around the convoluted scheme. The right analog stick brings up media at any time, which is nothing more than credits and trailers. Why this actually needed quick access is unknown.

The triggers can bring up a sub menu, and in conjunction with the d-pad, can find more options. The left trigger can navigate or bring up a save menu. The bumpers flip stat categories, and the face buttons move things forwards or back a screen. This is miserable to deal with, and there's no reason for why it's so complex.

Thankfully, once into the game, things are toned down. The play selection menu is ripped from NCAA 07, and it's hardly user friendly either. It's become harder over the years to hide plays from friends playing alongside you, and while online play negates some of that, it's hard to fathom how the 16-bit versions of the game did a better job of this.

Gameplay changes include "lead blocker controls." This is the significant change to this years Madden that separates it from its past cousins. By pressing the left bumper on the line, you can switch to any player on the field to set up a block. The right analog stick decides what type of block you'll perform. Once you've made the hole, you can rapidly switch back to the running back and regain control or let the AI run out the play. It's initially disorienting, though after a few runs, you'll become used to this feature, and realize its enormous benefits to the running game.

The right analog stick is also used for running, and instead of a "truck" move like last year, this year flicking the analog stick in a certain direction performs moves more accurate to the running back under control. Smaller backs use finesse, larger ones use brute strength. It's necessary to know your players to put this into effect.

madden072_360.jpg (434002 bytes)Changes to gameplay modes include the Superstar mode that was disappointingly absent in the previous version on the 360. While it's still not as robust, the concept is the same. You'll create your own player, take him through a severely limited selection of three mini-games, and become drafted by a team. There you'll begin your quest to become a Hall of Fame player, all while dealing with the media and dealing with your agent. Oddly, the camera here is not adjustable, settling in on a behind-the-helmet view of your player. It's impossible to play on the defensive side of the ball like this, and being a quarterback isn't on the easy side either.

Franchise mode fans now have the option to play their games against other Xbox Live players, though it's hard to find people online doing the same. It's as simple as hitting the left bumper when preparing to play your next franchise week, which will set up an open game online to wait for a human player to take control of the opposing squad. This is a fantastic idea that sadly isn't being used enough, and gets away from rather poor AI on anything less than the highest difficulty. Defensive backs are particularly limited in their role, falling for simple crossing routes on a regular basis.

Other gameplay issues include an acknowledged bug that won't show fatigue levels on the play selection screen. A patch was promised, but has yet to surface. Also, unlocked Hall of Fame players are tossed into the franchise modes free agent pool, so you'll either need to deal with the computer AI picking up long dead all stars or load a default roster before every game. These are the type of sloppy mistakes that give EA an ugly reputation with some gamers.

For an extra $10, there are very few reasons to recommend this over the current generation versions. A few nice add-ins aside (including a wonderful section on the Hall of Fame, complete with NFL Films produced video biographies on some players), the game simply offers more in every area on the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. It looks better on the 360, though that's no justification for the added pricing.


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Last updated: Sunday, September 17, 2006 02:37 PM