Madden NFL 07 Review

Madden NFL 07 for the PlayStation 3 is, more or less, a direct port of the same title on the 360 that came out a few weeks ago. This means that like the others, most of the upgrades you’ll notice come from the jump from 06 to 07, not 360 to 3.

Like in the 360 version, the PS3 port of Madden also features a revamped running system–but it goes a step further. While the highlight stick is still present and helps make runners move like themselves, the new physics and graphics in the PS3 title capture the running animations of each player nearly perfectly, making Reggie Bush run very different from a power runner like Jamal Lewis. One of the few small steps EA took with the PS3 version, but if you’re a huge NFL aficionado, it helps.

One of my favorite new gameplay features in recent years is the lead blocker control, and once again it’s present in the PS3 version. Coined "Run to Daylight," the lead blocking mechanic adds much versatility to the running game, and for once places an emphasis on the blockers rather than just the guy with the ball. Before running plays, you’ll be able to quickly switch to the blockers (your offensive line, fullbacks, tight end, etc.). Once the ball is snapped, you’re able to control the blocker in order to open holes in the defense. Using the analog stick, you can perform blocking maneuvers ranging from pancakes to cuts. When you believe the hole is large enough, you can either continue to control the blockers on the field, or switch back to the guy running the ball in order to exploit the hole in the defense. The PS3 also has a unique feature with this, as you can use the Sixaxis controller to control the types of blocks you throw out. Tilt it up, and you’ll hit the guy square in the chest. Tilt it down, and you take him out down low.

One problem I did notice was that if you allowed the computer to keep controlling the running back, it would tend to miss the openings you created — so you’re better off switching back to the runner and controlling him yourself. A feature like this may seem small — or even boring — to casual football fans. But for enthusiasts and diehards, it’s great to see a game putting importance in the blocking game, and making it fun while they’re at it. Offensive linemen are constantly the most underrated players on the field, so it’s nice to see them finally get some love.

The new kick meter is also nice, and improves upon past kick meters, making it one of the best I’ve seen yet in a game. Rather than just being a process of aiming your kick and timing the power by pressing a button, the new kick meter forces you to aim your kick, and then move the right analog stick back-to-forward in a set path in order to send it flying. What this means is that not only do you have to aim correctly initially, but you’re also forced to continue aiming as you power your kick with the back-to-forward motion. This creates a kicking game in which no kick is easy, and long field goals are truly rewarding.

The Superstar mode present in Madden ’07 is slightly improved in comparison to that in the ’06 edition. Unlike Madden ’06, the Superstar mode in ‘07 doesn’t include a lot of the pointless off-the-field aspects, or the annoying house hub. Instead, the emphasis is put entirely on football, which is where it should have been the entire time.

For those of you unfamiliar with Superstar mode (or those of you unlucky enough to have gotten Madden ’06 for the 360), the premise of the Superstar mode in Madden NFL ’07 is simple: take a football player from his pre-draft workouts to the NFL Hall of Fame. This begins with the game generating a set of parents for your player, which determines what position he’ll play and the skills he possesses. If you aren’t happy with what the game selects, you can shuffle the parents again and again, until you land your "perfect" player. This can be frustrating at times (such as when you want to have a specific position and have to keep shuffling), but it is entertaining to see the kinds of backgrounds EA came up with for parents.

Once you’ve selected your player and created his appearance and background information, it’s off to pre-draft workouts for you. Using a variety of minigames such as the 40-yard dash and bench pressing, the workouts help determine where your player gets drafted, and what team you end up on. I didn’t really notice a vast difference in player abilities depending on how I performed in these workouts, however (and due to a very poorly worded instruction set for the 40-yard dash I tripped my first two workouts). After a few sessions and the NFL Combine are over with, your player will be drafted and you’ll begin your NFL career.

From there it’s pretty straightforward. By playing more seasons and becoming a better player — and by winning, winning, winning — your player will increase their Hall of Fame meter. If it’s high enough by the time you hang up your cleats, you’ll find yourself among the football legends in the Hall of Fame.

Gameplay-wise, the Superstar mode offers an entertaining feature in the unique camera angles each position uses. Since you’re playing as only one player, you won’t get the standard top-down view of the action on the field. Instead, you’ll see a much more limited field, determined by which position you play. For some positions such as a defensive back, this can make the game incredibly frustrating. For others like the quarterback, it makes the game much more fun. While you’re able to enter the Hall of Fame as each position (and I’m sure there are gamers out there who will do so) in the end it’s really only fun with a few of the skill positions. Being able to enter the Hall as any position does add a nice touch of replayability, though.

In regards to the franchise mode, once again the next-gen version falls short to the current-gen consoles. If you were unhappy with the franchise mode in Madden ’06 for the 360 last year, chances are you won’t change your mind in this outing on the PS3. Many of the features are surprisingly missing from this iteration of the game (such as Tony Bruno, newspapers, the Owner mode, and the fantasy draft) making it suffer in the replay department. It’s especially puzzling given the fact EA had some extra time to at least add a fantasy draft option to the franchise…yet nothing. Weird.

Graphically, the game is slightly superior to the 360 version. It’s not a huge improvement over the 360 version, but to be fair it was a great looking game. The framerate problems present in the previous versions of Madden ’07 are still present, although not at the same degree. Once again, another small aspect which is truly puzzling, given the fact that EA had some extra time to hammer out the small problems.

The sound is another mixed bag for me. On one hand, the on-field chatter and music is great, as usual. On the other, the lack of Tony Bruno and the small radio announcer make the game suffer. Rather than having the big names handle the announcing for the entire game, EA once again opted to have a "small team-oriented radio personality" broadcast each game. While this creates a more intimate feeling at first (the announcer relates to your team as the Good Guys, the opponents as the Bad Guys, has nicknames for players, etc.) in the end it gets extremely annoying with the biased announcing and limited announcing one man can do. I never thought I would say this, but I miss hearing Madden announce — at least he was funny on occasion (whether it’s intentional or not is beside the point).

In the end, Madden NFL ’07 for the PS3 is pretty much the exact thing we saw on the 360, except for a few Sixaxis controls. You can use the new controller to deliver the big hits, juke on offense and block, but it seems thrown in. While this isn’t too surprising given the fact that this isn’t a true "first PS3 Madden title," it will be interesting to see how EA can handle having an entire year to develop a game which can take control of the Sixaxis. After playing the Wii version, they certainly have a lot to live up to.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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