Review by adawg555
"Couple of Yards Short of a Championship"
Its the time of the year any sports fan loves. The NFL season is right around the corner, MLB is heading into the playoffs, and the year's Madden is being stocked on store shelves. While normally a joyous occasion, last year's iteration on the Xbox 360 did not titillate fans as much as it enraged them. But did this years Next Gen gridiron juggernaut redeem its disastrous first year? Absolutely.
With that being said, this years Madden 07 is far from perfect, but it does bring the best football experience that I have ever gotten from a football game. After the defensive additions in the past (some which have inexplicably been taken out) and last years beefed up passing game, EA felt it was time to give the old running game a kick in the ass. Here comes the big Gameplay addition this year, Run to Daylight.
Unlike years of the past, you can no longer blame your lead blocker from going the wrong way (instead you ll be blaming your dumb AI running back for not running through the hole you made for him) because with the simple press of a button, you can take control of any blocker and lay the defenders out with the flick of a stick. While a nice addition that extradites the lead blocker woes from past copies, it can sometimes make the running game TOO easy, making bug rushing gains commonplace. I often found myself either disappointed in how easy busting my running back loose was or how screaming at my dumb ball carrier for not going where he was supposed to. Its definitely sometimes a hit or a miss when it comes to Run to Daylight.
Another addition to the running game is the new Highlight Stick which will let you put the moves on the defenders with a push of the Right Stick. While this feature claims to separate Power Rushers from Finesse Rusher, I was still able to truck over 300 pound defenders using Tiki Barber, which just isn't right. But aside from that, the HS is flawless and really gives you more control over your running game.
The passing remains the same as last year. You can still use the QB Vision if you feel like, but it is not on by default. Everything is the same.
The defensive side of the ball has taken a step or two back. You can no longer set individual assignments for linebackers, and WR Shading has been thrown out the window. For what reason, I don't know, but this definitely leaves the defense helpless against cheap plays. The Defensive AI can also be frustrating as your Defensive Back will often run away from the ball instead of going for an interception or knock down.
The gameplay has its flaws, but still remains solid and enjoyable.
This is a definite upgrade over Madden 06 on the 360. While last year saw many players have the same player models, there is much more variety this year. Chad Johnson looks like Chad Johnson. Eli Manning looks like Eli Manning, and so on. This really adds to the already fantastic environment. The stadiums come alive with thousands of individual 3D models all jumping and screaming as your team goes on a great drive, and sitting as you get waxed by the visitors. It just creates an unreal atmosphere.
The field is great also. The stadiums look like their real counterparts, and the land acts like it should. You can see the feel deteriorate as behemoths rip it apart, and puddles form as the rain falls harder. It really is a site to see and adds the ultimate realism to the game. However, Referees are still inexplicably missing from the on field action. Luckily that doesn't hurt the atmosphere much.
Best.Audio.Ever. That describes the sounds of this game when played on a good surround sound system. The crowd roars and boos; the players talk endless amounts of trash; and the QBs audible just like they would in real life. Adding to the greatness of player chatter is that most of the voices you here (especially from the QBs) are actual voices of their real NFL counterparts. You don't know how awesome a feel that creates. One downfall is that there is still no Madden or Michaels in the 360 version. The Radio Guy from last year is still present, and yes, still very boring. Other than that, the audio is perfect. Make sure you get a sub woofer so you can feel those hits!
The standard modes are back. You have Exhibition, Practice, Online (Exhibition and Franchise games!) and Franchise as your returning mainstays that you will find no surprises in. New to this year is a revamped SuperStar Mode, in which you will create a character and make him a Hall of Famer. This year, you can only control YOUR player, and not the whole team. This is definitely challenging, and the weird camera angles can make positions such as QB and WR very frustrating to start with, but you will get used to them soon. SuperStar mode is fun for a little bit, but not so ground breaking that you will want to play it for hours.
New mini games also make their debut in this years version, including the now infamous 40 Yard Dash and Bench Press. Each one has them use a combination of Sticks and Triggers to get desired results, which for most, never come. These mini games will be more frustrating than fun for you, but are needed to assign stats(Why?!) to a created player. Nice modes, but still lacking in the variety department.
Madden 07 on the 360 definitely delivers the fun this year. While lacking in some areas, it is still the best experience I have had playing a football game, and with some slider tweaks, you cant get a more realistic football game. It is close to taking in the rock for 6, but is still a little short of a championship.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/30/06
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