In the United States, there is no sport more popular than football (although, a few may argue baseball). Have you ever dreamt of being a professional athlete with the crowd roaring their approval? Ever dreamt of being out there playing football with the best in the world? With the video game Madden NFL 07, you can live out your dreams. It's as close as it gets to actually being on the field.
Here's a full review of how the game Madden NFL 07 plays on the XBox 360.
Football is a game of aggression, speed, and power. In football, the stronger and faster players generally succeed, but to be truly successful in the sport, you must work as a team. In Madden NFL 07, you control whether a football team is victorious or not. Whether you like to run the ball, pass the ball, or run a tough defense, it's up to you to win football games with one of many teams from the National Football League (NFL).
Overall, gameplay was done fairly well. Electronic Arts (EA), the publisher, made an attempt at including hot routes (changes to what a wide receiver is doing on a given play) and audibles (change of the offensive play at the line) on offense, but they failed miserably. Being able to move linebackers and lineman on defense is great, but you lack the ability to change what defensive backs (safeties and cornerbacks) do. You can’t change a linebacker’s assignment from man-to-man coverage to blitzing or zoning, and the same goes for everybody on the defensive side of the ball.
On offense, it took me a while to figure out how to do hot routes (who actually looks at the manual?), even though I’ve played Madden games for years. This was the most frustrating part of the game; on offense, I struggled to change the play when I saw something in the defense I wanted to exploit, and this made it much more difficult to be successful.
Madden GameplayAs for the controls, I was fairly pleased with the button scheme. I dislike the idea that one button does stiff arms, but I like using the right stick (the Highlight Stick) for juking and doing player specific moves. The Highlight Stick, however, seems ineffective, and it didn’t ever really make the gameplay any better. Juking almost never does anything for you, while the “spin” button dominates most running strategies; I found this to be a fault with the game.
In summary, the gameplay was pretty good.
The menu interfaces were probably the biggest weakness of the game. Load times every couple seconds aren’t necessarily what I like seeing in a game, but the worst part was how the menus were organized. While in Dynasty mode (the portion of Madden that you take over a football team's franchise, and control everything from drafting and signing players, to controlling the team's budget), they made it a hassle to go between the schedule and player management, and that’s something I’ve always particularly liked about the Madden franchise. I felt that they deliberately created a focus on the gameplay, so that you would stay in the schedule and play game after game without ever paying attention to the players on the team and working with the depth charts.
The music in the game was okay, but nothing like the previous Madden games. This soundtrack was pretty weak compared to the absolute powerhouse soundtracks of previous years. Even though this may seem like a useless complaint, it really matters when players have to mute the TV because they’re sick of the music.
The Dynasty mode in the game was put together pretty well, and matches up with the previous generation console versions (PS2, XBox, Gamecube). Again, the Dynasty experience was kind of ruined for me because the menus were a huge hassle to deal with. I liked that they kept the rosters pretty realistic, and basically left the contract negotiating intact. The only part missing was the player’s level of interest being shown as you change the amount of money you’re offering them. If they did show it, it would drastically shorten the amount of time needed for contract negotiation.
The draft portion of the game really annoyed me. While the computer created players coming out to the draft this year are a little better than in previous installations of the series, the draft goes way too slow. In previous games, the draft would go through an entire round in just a second or two, then you got to pick. In this version, other teams take forever to pick, even when you turn up the speed of the draft to maximum. The scouting for drafts has been left out of the game completely, and I always thought that was an important part of every dynasty’s drafting strategy. I felt that the whole drafting process was mediocre, and just plain boring. Overall, managing rosters in their dynasty mode was a pain, mainly because of menu navigation.
This game had, by far, the best graphics of any Madden title ever made. However, the graphics in the game hurt how the game played during cut scenes when the game actually lags. Yes, the frame rate in the game actually stops for small portions of time. I’m not sure what causes this problem, but EA needs to fix it, and they need to fix it quickly. I will be very disappointed if the game has slowdown in next year’s version.
Despite all the problems, the game looks absolutely lifelike. While the outlining of players could be a bit smoother, the game still looks amazing. The stadiums look great, and the crowd finally looks like they aren’t faces pasted on cardboard. The crowd also moves around and does things at random intervals (even though large groups of fans still do the same thing at the same time). The most disappointing part of the crowd is that, while I played the game, they never did the “wave”.
Overall, the game played well. The graphics were amazing; the players looked almost lifelike. The running game was upgraded in the installation, but your ability to control the defense was bad. Not having the ability to make linebackers blitz instead of covering man-to-man is a handicap, and gives the offense a pretty big advantage. The difficulty in changing the play on offense makes it a little hard, but you can still be successful even when you haven’t mastered the audible and hot route controls in the game.
I felt the game was worth a recommendation, but it is definitely not the best Madden game EA has ever made.
Video Game Ratings:
Gameplay: 8 (frame rate problems, difficult hot route and audible controls)
Graphics: 9 (slightly rough edges on players, otherwise great)
Story: 8 (Dynasty was decent, but had menu navigation and draft problems)
Audio: 7 (soundtrack was pretty weak)
This game was published by Electronic Arts and developed by Tiburon.
Note: The actual gameplay is quite a bit different between the various consoles. I’m strictly talking about the XBox 360 version here.