Review by EJRICH

"My Letter to John Madden"

Dear Mr. Madden, mind if I have a word with you for a second? I've put up with buying your money-pit Madden NFL games for the past couple of years now, and as a devoted fan, I feel like I've been screwed over one too many times. So what do I think you should do about it? I think I'll review your latest franchise game for the Nintendo Gamecube, Madden NFL 07, to show you. I doubt you'll really pay much attention to this, since you are a busy cover boy and all, but perhaps you could pass this on to the lab rats you have working at EA.

Now, you probably are pretty happy right now with the overall results you've been seeing from your games. Many people claim that the Madden franchise is the most realistic football experience on the video game market, and to an extent, I can agree. Few other football games can match the feeling that is attained from charging through a defensive line as a running back, or catching the ball as a receiver while having two defensive linemen breathing down your neck. But on that same token, you've been using this stuff for ages now, and I think minor tweaking should have been added to the system this way it does feel more realistic then your previous versions.

But you knew that, right? That's why you decided to come up with the truck and highlight sticks. To tell you the truth, though, I think you failed to capture the true essence of them. Both add some depth to the game, sure, and in case you forgot what they do, (you are getting up in the years. Senile, perhaps?) the truck stick makes defensive players perform special blocking moves that allow them to bowl past the OL and right into the Quarterback. The highlight stick plays a different role in the game, influencing the ball carriers. For instance, a running back can duck and weave around his pursuers in an attempt to break away and score a touchdown. But my big complaint with both of these was the fact that, although they do make things more realistic, both have the ability to be abused. Horrifically.

You probably don't care, however. To you, it was another one of those perks that made the game look flashier. So now I'm forced to turn my attention to something else that I thought needed mentioning, and that was actual teams. I can put up with all of your flashy game play gimmicks, but this is where I draw the line. Every year you ramble on and on about the darn player statistics that you use to rate every player and team in the NFL. You'd think that you'd actually make use of them to influence the game play. Every player, every team, heck, even the darn playbooks, feel oddly familiar. Almost to the point of them being identical. Sure, it gives my Jets the fighting chance they need to beat the Colts, arguably the best team in football, but it fails to accomplish the true purpose of what those ratings mean. If my Jets stink, make them stink. Don't give me no reason whatsoever to want to pick a different team.

Did I make you feel cruddy? I hope so, because now I want to talk about a couple of the things I actually liked. Do I intend to make you feel good about yourself? Nope. As you know, you've included an NFL Super Star Mode that allows players to create a character of any position and take him through the ranks to NFL Superstardom. Once a player manages to create the character, they can then allow him to practice and get drafted by a team. And you know, I enjoyed it deeply. I personally picked my character to be a MLB, or Middle Linebacker. It's the position I play in real football, and using the knowledge that I've gained over the years, I was able to immerse myself to a new level. After sinking a couple hundred hours into this dude, I finally got myself into the hall of fame and enjoyed seeing a nice, long credit line.

That spells loads of replay-ability for this game, and that alone was worth the price of admission, but there was something else that stood out to me when I was playing with my MLB. As apposed to seeing the defense from the traditional offensive side, you actually put me into a semi-first person view on some of the plays. It wasn't used throughout, which kind of disappointed me considering how much fun I had with it, but it was something that made me feel like I was playing the position. Use it all of the time, even when you are playing in single player free play games, and you'd probably have a hit on your hands.

Add that to a deep franchise mode that allows you to draft any NFL player in the league to form a team, plus a multiplayer mode that allowed me to blow more hours than I'd care to mention with my friends, and you have a good football package. There was something else that stood out to me, though, and that was the music. Instead of it being just random football sounds that sound like crow, you actually took real songs and implemented them into the game play. Sure, it wasn't perfect by any means, and some of the tracks weren't interesting, but it accomplished its goal and was a nice improvement over previous years.

So you've heard me yell about you game now for about 900 words, hopefully some of this will be of use to you in your quest to stop screwing me over. I believe that with some tweaking, you really should be able to pull off those truck and highlight sticks, and if by some means of the imagination you can differentiate between teams and players, the game will be more enjoyable. With the 2k series on the rise, you are now in danger. And no, just because you'd come with a game doesn't mean it'd sell.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 08/16/07, Updated 12/23/09

Game Release: Madden NFL 07 (US, 08/22/06)


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