Review by TheGutsyBat

"Madden '07 settles for a field goal"

A lot of people look at sports series as the lowest of low. They think, "Every year I buy the same game. All it has is updated rosters, the graphics might be tweaked a little bit, and a new feature might be sprinkled in here or there." In most regards, those people would be right, those assumptions are right on key. However, Madden somehow defies the odds each year and continues to steamroll the sports industry with its undeniable popularity.

With the newest installment, Madden 07' attempts to add a few new features while maintaining their awesome level of approachability and fun. In some cases, Madden 07 truly shines. In others... the game just feels downright stale, a game that needs some major refinement.

Graphics: 7/10 Let's face it, these graphics are nice, especially when you line them up against their 128-bit counterparts. That's not to say, however, that these graphics are awesome in terms of the newest generation. The character animations are fairly well done. Activity on the field is very lifelike and represents the natural feel of football to a 'T'. Stadiums look good, and each withhold their own personal characteristics. Character models are... decent. You can tell who each superstar player is, but the engine is obviously lacking. Nothing too spectacular. Personally, I think the crowd animations are sub-par. They look grainy, and are generally uneventful. I'm not a graphics mongrel, but this game honestly underachieves in terms of visual presentation. I really expected more out of a $60 dollar game.

Sound: 7/10 One thing that really stuck out to me was the on-field chatter between the players. I absolutely loved the jawing whenever a player makes a huge crunching hit or a long run between the tackles. Each quarterback has a distinct voice when he calls his cadences, again, a nice touch of authenticity. The soundtrack... ehh, I don't care for it much. Then again, that's really a personal issue. That'll change between each person that plays the game. To say that the commentary is terrible would probably be pushing it way too far, but it's by no means good. I'm glad that John Madden's vocal role has pretty much been reduced to his "Ask Madden" montage, but the guy who does it now just... well, he isn't very exciting. His banter gets pretty repetitive after a few games, and you're just going to want to turn it off. I really think EA needs to rework their color commentary. Stepping it up would increase the authenticity of this "Football Sim" tenfold.

Gameplay: 8/10Most gamers will agree that this is the most important aspect of any good video game. Madden gets the job done... for the most part. The rudimentary "gameplay" is done well. Controls are very user friendly, and it only takes a game or so to nail everything down, save the more "advanced" techniques. I would suggest going into the practice mode and working on getting your own personal feel down for how you'll approach the game, again, because everyone is different. I felt that the default difficulty was WAY too easy. Unless you've never played Madden in the past, crank up the difficulty to All-Pro, or you won't have a challenge. I beat the Panthers by 40 points on the default level with the 49ers... so hopefully that explains my concern.

Aside from just playing the exhibition games are the superstar and franchise modes. Personally, I would highly suggest spending the majority of your time in franchise mode. The level of depth is great. You control every aspect of your team, from player signings, to the depth chart... the coaching decisions. Plus, you get a chance to make a run at the Super Bowl. I wanted a challenge, so I started a franchise with the Saints. I'm in the middle of the playoffs right now, and it's really been a blast so far. The Superstar mode is just really stale, flat out. The way you create a character is cool, especially now that you do all of the training camp exercises and interviews to dictate how your stats will turn out, ah-la the older Madden games on the Genesis and SNES. When you actually play a game in Superstar mode, the camera angles they give you are just plain bad It's impossible to see what's going on. For some reason, I made a running back, and when I got drafted by the Chiefs, my overall rating was a 99. Essentially, I had absolutely no challenge. This was an instant turn off.

Replayability: 9/10 This game is going to last you a while, flat out. If you have broadband, you can take your game online and smash face on XBox Live. A word of caution though, everyone uses the deep ball, so get a team with a good secondary. You've got both modes of play I talked about, plus exhibition games, and mini games. There are also tons of achievements to get, mainly unlocking the Hall of Fame players. I really liked this feature. It's awesome learning a bit about football's past.

Pros/Cons/Final Impressions
+Very approachable gameplay for every gamer
+Franchise mode is very deep and a blast to play
+On-field chatter is great, as well as stadium atmosphere

+Graphics are just not where they should be for new generation games
+Superstar mode is very, very generic
+Commentary makes you want to gouge your eyes out with a dull letter opener

Overall, Madden 07 is a step in the right direction for next generation sports games. EA stuck to their typical formula, which is good in some regards. The game will be very familiar with veterans, and also maintain a replayability level with the rookies. Next year's game is promising to be a huge step up, and I personally can't wait. As they say in the sports industry, maybe next year!

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 09/19/06

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