Review by Groves22
"NCAA March Madness 07 - EA Shoots.... Air Ball"
Well, now that the real March Madness is over for this year, I decided to write on NCAA March Madness 07. It's hard not to get caught up in March Madness, even if you're not a fan of college basketball. However, NCAA March Madness 07 for the Xbox 360, leaves little to be desired. It is a game that could have driven to the basket and scored, but turned out to be a brick from 7 feet away.
When you first enter the game, you will see a basketball player in street clothes, playing on a street court with a couple of basketballs. You can use this time to learn the controls of the game. If you have more than 1 controller plugged in, you will have more than 1 player on this screen. So before you even try to play the game, you can work on your moves and time your ball release for easy buckets. While you are in this mode, you will see an ESPN ticker on the bottom giving real time scores, and a podcasted feed of ESPN News Radio. You also have the chance to shoot around during the loading screens. That's always good, because who likes to sit around and stare at a bar slowly move across the screen?
After you are done shooting around, you can choose one of the following game modes; Dynasty. NCAA, NIT, or Maui Tournament, or you can play a quick match. Dynasty mode lets you run a college program. You can choose a horrible team, and build them up to a NCAA powerhouse, or you can choose a power house and continue to dominate the hardwood. Dynasty mode has everything that a real coach would deal with; recruiting, scheduling, training and the higher ups riding you if you lose. Alumni of your school will also challenge you to complete certain tasks throughout the dynasty. If you complete their challenges, you will be rewarded. These rewards range from bigger and better bands to state of the art gyms. A quick match is what it is. All you do is pick two teams and go at it. Then there is the tournament mode. You choose 1 or more teams, and play though the NCAA, NIT, or Maui Invitational. You lose, you're out!
How are college sports different than the professionals? I have been to pro and college basketball games. If you didn't know, college games get a lot louder when their team is doing well. That is kind of portrayed in this game as well. You team, and players, will have intensity meters. The better you play, the better your players are, and vice versa. You have the option to use some of your intensity to taunt the opposition, or pump up your team/crowd. If you were to fill up your intensity, during a break in play you have the chance to stop and do a little extra to get the crowd bumping. You can dance with the cheerleaders, go to the sideline and play to the crowd, get in the other teams face, or pump up a player on your team. No theses impact moments are nice the first couple times, but after a while, it really gets annoying. I seldom let my bar fill up that high, and if I do, I choose to pass on the impact moment.
Now everything up until now sounds like it's a fun game to play. However, the actual gameplay of NCAA March Madness 07 is what hurts it so much. First off, the obsessive foul calling is ridiculous in this game. You try to steal, foul. You drive to lane, foul. You dribble the ball, foul. I know these can be turned off, but you shouldn't have to mess with any sliders when it comes to fouling. The ball physics are also something to be astonished by, and not in a good way. A few times I have seen my pass get redirected by air. I don't know what basketball could do that? Missing a shot will also send a ball in weird directions off of the rim. It really doesn't bounce they way you think it should. This makes rebounding a little harder than it should be.
The AI is pretty lackluster in NCAA March Madness 07 as well. I guess it would be too much to ask for your players to look at the ball, or in some direction that a play is happening. I have caught several of my players looking out into the crowd while I am at the top of the key. Now, you can still pass to them when their back is turned, they just whip around with blazing speed. But how would they even know the ball was coming? If you run a play, the AI does what they are supposed to, which is nice. However, there is a real lack of need to run a play. If you just dribble for a bit near the three point line, a huge lane will open up in the middle. All you need to do is use a juke to get past your defender, and lay it in or dunk for a very easy 2 points.
These are some small annoyances, but they are enough to ruin the game for me.
The controls are pretty nice, as far as basketball games are concerned. Shooting a jump shot is a press and release at the right time for a good shot, while dunking is another button. So when driving to the whole, be sure to hit the right button to throw it down with authority, with the added bonus the other team will foul you. You use the right stick to perform several jukes and ball movements. Each direction will give you a different move and depending if you're moving or not, will also give you different moves. It is really easy to get defenders on their heals using these moves, I mean really easy. While on point, you can easily call a play using the D-pad. You can set which plays get assigned to which direction, and run the play as often as you want.
As far as the look of the game, I feel it is sub par. The motions of the players seam off. I really can't put my finger on it, but something is not right. Maybe the FPS is too slow for a basketball game, who knows. I just don't like the way it moves. The arenas do look nice though. They appear to be models of the real courts the college plays in, but I can not vouch for every college. I know the Schottenstein Center, court for the Ohio State Buckeyes, looks rather close to the real thing. During the game you will see the mascots jumping and cheering for your team, as well.
The audio in the game is good, but I don't think it is helping the cause. There is only so much commentary I can take. I feel that way about every sports game. Too often the commentators repeat themselves in the course of a game. What makes this worse than other sport game? Dick Vitale! There is only so much I can take from Dickie V, and the constant repetitiveness drives me up the wall. His sidekick Brad Nessler doesn't help the situation out much either.
You can play NCAA March Madness 07 online against other Xbox LIVE subscribers, but good luck. I purchased this game 2 months after it came out, and only found 3 other people playing. The online community is completely dead. So if you do purchase this game now, do not plan on finding many match, if any, online. If you are lucky enough to find a match, be prepared for the choppiest experience in online gaming history. I could barely make it through a full game, because of the constant stopping. If you get a smooth game, don't expect a good experience. If your opponent is worried about winning, all you have to do is full court press and steal the inbound pass for an easy dunk. In general, online play for NCAA MM 07 sucks!
A great perk to NCAA March Madness 07 is the fact it is an easy 1000 achievement points. You can almost every achievement in one game played on the easiest setting, playing 20 minute halves. It might be hard to get the online achievements, because of the above mentioned problem. So if you are addicted to gamer score, this is a good game to pick up. I'd imagine you can find it for under $20 now that NCAA March Madness 08 is out.
Now, NCAA March Madness 07 is not the worst basketball game on the market today, it is certainly not the best. Visually it's nice, and some of the options and modes are good. The thing that really hurts it, is the well below average gameplay, both local and online. I would hope EA picks up their game and recruits well for the seasons to come.
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/01/09
Game Release: NCAA March Madness 07 (US, 01/17/07)
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