OK, let's get this out of the way: If you're expecting the PlayStation 3 version of Madden NFL 07 to completely reinvent the way you look at football games, or if you expect it to be something dramatically different from, say, the Xbox 360 version of the game, then you are in for a letdown. According to producers of the game, whom we spoke to during a recent EA PS3 developer meet-and-greet, the PS3 version of Madden 07 isn't necessarily aimed at folks who already own the 360 version of the game. Instead, the company hopes that the legions of PlayStation fans who have been patiently holding out for the third iteration of their favorite console are the ones that snap up the PS3 debut of EA's premiere sports franchise.
As we discovered when playing the game tonight, everything that is found in the Xbox 360 version of the game is present and accounted for in the PS3 game, including important 2006 additions, such as the lead blocker controls, as well as the revamped superstar feature and all of its position-specific camera angles and controls. So what's different, then? The biggest difference, as you might expect, can be found in the controls of the game. Madden NFL 07 is making use of the tilt functionality of the PS3's Sixaxis controller in a number of ways. The most obvious implementation, and the one we used the most during our time with the demo, was the fake snap. Before hiking the ball, you simply jerk the control backward or forward, and the screen will briefly pull back. If you time it right, you can catch the other team offsides.
Other functionality for the tilt controller includes lead-blocking controls when on offense and jumping-the-snap and hit-stick controls when on defense. You control all of them the same way, by quickly jerking the controller up or down. It's a bit of a shame that there isn't more variety to the maneuvers you can pull off using the tilt controls--placekicking seems like an obvious choice, for example. The development team behind Madden 07 says it is considering new uses for the Sixaxis controller for future versions of the series and is trying to find the sweet spot where the tilt controls add to the gameplay, as opposed to merely being a gimmick.
Though it will have new controls and all the same content as the 360 game, the PS3 version of Madden will have a few graphical treats in store for fans as well. You'll notice small differences, such as new transitions during walk-ups and in between plays, as well as improved grass textures. Physics-based gang tackles are an important addition as well--if a ball carrier is hit low, his body will turn one way; when he's hit by a second defender high, he will buckle in an entirely new direction. It's a subtle but important addition, especially for the outspoken hardcore Madden contingent who lives and breathes by those kinds of true-to-Sunday details.
Though the PS3 version of Madden NFL 07 is well on its way to becoming a solid debut for the series, there won't be much reason to own both this version and the Xbox 360 version of the game, and if you are looking for an entirely new take on Madden, you're probably going to want to try out the Nintendo Wii version of the game. If, however, you find yourself one of the lucky few in possession of a PlayStation 3 on launch day--and you haven't yet played the Xbox 360 version of the game--then Madden NFL 07 for the PS3 will be waiting there for you on store shelves, wondering just what took you so long. Expect our full review after the game is released in mid-November.