Madden NFL 07 Updated Hands-On - In-Depth With the Wii Controller

EA stops by to give us a detailed look at its upcoming edition of Madden NFL 07 for the Wii.

People like to complain a great deal about how sports games frequently fail to change significantly from year to year, especially in this period where publishers are slowly but steadily moving developmental focus from current-gen systems to the next generation of consoles. However, it's unlikely that anyone will be accusing Madden NFL 07 for the Wii of any such wrongdoing. Admittedly, Madden for the Wii looks very similar to the Xbox, PlayStation 2, and GameCube versions of Madden released earlier this year, but by taking advantage of the Wii's controls, this version looks to fundamentally change how you play football games. The question is, is that change for the better? If our time spent with the game earlier today is any indication, it very well could be.

Running the ball using the FullMotion controls is going to take some getting used to, but it's really cool when done right.

When you first boot up Madden on the Wii, the game presents you with the option of using the standard control stick navigation for the menu screens or the Wii's pointer to select options. We found using the control stick a bit easier, but for those all kooky for Wii functionality, the option is there. This is indicative of how the game itself is laid out. Though gameplay controls are built strictly with the Wii's motion sensing in mind, there are a lot of subtle design differences in this version built to tone down the learning curve of this new play style. For one, the play-calling menus now feature a new submenu for easier play calling. You'll still have access to the usual play menus, which are broken down by formations and types, as well as the Ask Madden feature, but with this new menu, you can select using base-level descriptions of the play types, like draw plays; short, medium, and long passes; inside and outside runs; and so on. These sections don't contain the usual hundreds of plays available, with closer to 80 or 90 plays total, but for those who aren't necessarily accustomed to the ins and outs of how Madden has played over the last few years, it makes for a nice, easy introduction to the system.

This is the audience EA is banking on for Madden on the Wii. Though all the typical depth of the standard football engine is there for the usual fans, the new gameplay design is geared toward the new FreeMotion controls and creating a unique new football experience that's relatively easy to get into. For the sake of easing people into the controls quickly, EA has included a tutorial system that gives you the basics on passing, running, kicking, and tackling. These tutorials are based within the types of minigames that Madden fans will instantly recognize from the minicamp mode. When learning passing, you throw to dummy receivers that light up, depending on who you're supposed to throw to, and with the running and tackling game, you either play as a running back, who fights the defense to get to the end zone, or a linebacker, who tries to stop the runner.

Doing these actions with the Wii controller initially feels counterintuitive, since experienced players will likely be going for their usual button assignments that simply don't exist here. Instead, all the basic actions are mapped to quick, easy movements that after a time become very easy to handle. For instance, passing requires a quick flick forward with the Wiimote to pass to the intended receiver. However, if you want to create a speedier bullet pass or a slower lob pass, you flick faster or slower to designate appropriately. You can also switch receivers simply by pressing the button assigned to the receiver you want to throw to and then flicking forward. It might sound a little complicated, but after a few plays, it becomes a breeze.

Kicking is similarly easy, as you'll simply press the A button to start the kick and then flick the Wiimote upward to set your power, as well as the slice of the kick. Tackling works fundamentally as it has in the past, with basic options to side strafe, dive tackle, and such. However, you can do a power move to take a ballcarrier down by holding down the Z button on the nunchuk and pressing both the Wiimote and nunchuk forward. Perhaps the most complex action to get used to is the new running controls. Though you can still pull off button-based spin moves and ball-cover moves, jukes and stiff arms are mapped to the nunchuk and Wiimote respectively. You simply move either controller left or right to perform the desired move in the desired direction. Timing can be tricky--if you're too late in performing a move and get tackled, a display will pop up onscreen telling you that you registered a late move. Similarly, if the game recognizes movement but isn't pushed far enough to pull off a move, it will intuitively recognize this movement and do the move for you. It's a tough adjustment from the usual running controls, but it isn't so complex that you won't be able to figure it out after a time.

There are plenty of advanced moves that don't come up during the tutorial, as well. By moving both controllers upward while a ball is in the air, you can try to catch the ball manually with a receiver or with a defender. Simply waiving the controller in the air will let defenders swat at passes. You can even use the controllers to block via the lead-blocker controls introduced earlier in the year. For actions like hot routes and sending players in motion, you simply point the Wiimote at the player you want to select, and a menu pops up giving you a myriad of options for what you might want to do. As you play games, little tutorial invites will pop up over time, asking you if you want to be shown how to do different actions. It's neat how many different actions are mapped to motion controls, and you'll undoubtedly want to take advantage of some of these tutorials.

What's especially cool about the game's controls is that they don't require exaggerated movement. We were able to pull off all our moves with simple flicks and twists while sitting comfortably in our chair. You can do more exaggerated movements and get the same effect, but you don't have to overexert yourself playing Madden on the Wii. We can also comfortably say that the game does a very good job of registering all your movements. We didn't fumble around trying to get movements to register or the pointer to point to the right item. It seems to work how it should at this stage of development.

It's pretty impressive how many actions are mapped to the FullMotion controls.

As far as content goes, Madden 07 for the Wii will include every feature found in the GameCube version of Madden from earlier in the year. Obviously, that means no online play, but you'll get the full franchise mode, minicamp mode, superstar mode, and even some new four-player minigames, which unfortunately we weren't able to check out yet. The visuals seem comparable to Madden 07 on the Xbox. The game runs in 480p, and you may notice some more distinctive shadows and player-model details than you would find in the other console versions. However, this is functionally the same engine as the current-gen console versions, and for the most part, the game looks very much like it did on those versions earlier this year.

It's about time that something inventive came out of sports gaming that didn't involve right analog sticks and prettier graphics. It certainly remains to be seen how well Madden on the Wii holds up over time, as we've only played it in short bursts thus far. But if our time spent with it today is any indication, EA may have something very cool on its hands with this version of Madden. Madden NFL 07 will ship alongside the Wii launch on November 19. We'll be sure to bring you more on the game, especially its multiplayer functions, in the coming weeks.

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76 comments
dslade12
dslade12

the wii gets an a+++ on the controllers but you think for something competing with the 360 and the ps3 the graphics would be better its a little embarrassing for nintendo i think there falling from the race for best console ever

Gamer_dude_666
Gamer_dude_666

i dont nececerely like sport games but the Wii sure improves on tem

joeschmoe921
joeschmoe921

I got 07 for my GC and i thought "fun game" then i went over to a friends house with the 360 and i was "Holy Shoes!" it was like being there. I couldnt beleive my eyes how crystal clear it was. I know graphics isn't nintendo's big concern. But if the wii looked like that, it would be, flippin' sweet.

Ice_dre89
Ice_dre89

I'm getting Wii and Madden on the launch day....Can't Wait 0_0

lilafrica14
lilafrica14

wii is gonna conquer the market with its motion sensing, especially in madden. i can't wait to get me a WII!

Mark2099
Mark2099

gamespot score: 7.5 Pros: Very intutitive control scheme. Slight visual improvements over current-gen consoles, plenty of game modes, tons of wii moves to make. Cons: Controls take a lot of getting used to, no online, best enjoyed wilth friends.

diggyman
diggyman

My 2 cents (who cares about my 2 cents): "Hey sounds great."

gamefreakwill
gamefreakwill

Cool, thw Wii's first football game will definately get some great reveiws and sales on launch day

landonct10
landonct10

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Kantoma
Kantoma

Sounds pretty bad ass, Brother. can't wait to try out my throwing arm.

NND1
NND1

Nintendo IZ tha MANNNN

Linkarg
Linkarg

I live in Argentina (where this sports has never been played), so I would have never considered to buy this game. But the idea to play it with the motion system makes me want to try it. (Sorry about my English, as I said, I live in Argentina, hehe) José

CaribouLou5
CaribouLou5

I think it's great what nintendo is doing with the wii. They are really going their own way and trying to make video games fun and new again instead of just making the graphics prettier. I don't have plans to buy a wii yet but if more companies like ea incorporate the wii-mote in cool ways I will have to pick one up. I mean, they're only $250!

IronBulk4158465
IronBulk4158465

this game looks cool but if every year they add new motions to the game every year then it could get to complicated

987654321y
987654321y

The Freemotion Control Screenshots Had Me Sold

_Sam_
_Sam_

seems pretty good

Alcotamaysees
Alcotamaysees

I hope madden for the wii will be able to break away from the others (in a positive way of course.)

SM42
SM42

Another score for the Wii! Or should I say "TOUCHDOWN"!

SM42
SM42

Another score for the Wii!

cheezlarson
cheezlarson

How could EA mess up the controls like that. To pass you should move the quarterback with the analog stick, and then point and click to the reciever you want. When you are running the ball the controls should be similar: move with analog stick and then juke to where you are pointing, and if you want someone to pick up the block then point at that defender and press a button. If it is that obvious to me, who is not getting a Wii, then how could EA do something where you have to switch recievers by pushing a button and then flicking the controller?

C0ldasICE
C0ldasICE

Finally Nintendo gives us what we want the most... TO PLAY REALLY FUN GAMES !!!!

Braxen
Braxen

Can´t wait to get my Wii. I´m not a big Madden-fan, but it sure sounds pretty darn cool.

AlmightySeraph
AlmightySeraph

in response to pb1285n: if you actually took the time and read more, you would know that the game isnt just wrist flicking. slow arm movements lobs passes. quick thrusts make bullet passes. if timed correctly, you can catch the ball making that gesture. you can even pump up the crowd with a "raise the roof" gesture for crying out loud. all that alone shows more immersive gameplay then simple button pressing. Jumping to negative views like that is a joke, calling the wii mote and motion sensitiviy a joke, is a joke in itself, and sorry to say, but youre a joke... .. haha ok last one was a joke, but cmon man give it a shot.

kavadias1981
kavadias1981

Seems like EA have got a good handle on how to use the features of the Wii effectively. If all game developers can utilise the Wii-mote's features just as well, then it could be a fantastic games console to play on. I had reservations about how well it would handle, but I feel more at ease now.

TintedChimes
TintedChimes

I hope I don't throw my Wii and hit the TV screen.

anasbouzid
anasbouzid

Oh, they have...check out the article at IGN....you can get the crowd to cheer by riasing your hands like "raise-the-roof!" Sweet....I will use that a lot when I play against my friend and I'm kicking his --- ! To the guys who says that the controller is a gimmick....did you know that if you want you can exagerate the motion or use small ones....so if your in the mood to THROW a bullet...then THROW it! and if you want to just want to hury up and beat the team not wasting time...then use the small motions...this madden has all the features of the next gen and more...not current gen....oh and NOW IM GETTING THIS GAME WITH EXCITETRUCK!

bminns
bminns

this looks cool but im gonna stick with madden on a sony system because im comfortable with the controller

BestofVolcom
BestofVolcom

this game looks kool with the actual moving otherwise its boring just clicking buttons to pass. I really like this movement thing. I'm definitly getting this game!

pb1285n
pb1285n

Wouldn't it have been great if you could have mapped your voice to different hotroutes and audibles. You have a microphone on your controller. Why not use it? Better then having to point at the screen on the guy you want to control.

pb1285n
pb1285n

Oh great so instead of pressing a button you flick your wrist. How is that immersive gameplay? How does that make me feel like I'm playing football? Honestly this sounds like one of the worst uses I've seen for a Wii controller yet. Almost as bad as the Marvel game (yay for spinning the controller in circles). The Wii controller is a joke, this motion sensitivity is a joke. They should of held off until next generation when they actually had a product worth putting out. This "gimmick" is going to entertain people for a few months and then it'll wear off. Watch 3rd party developers give up porting games with motion sensitive features over time too. Nintendo says they are backing out of the power race because they believe games are going in the wrong direction? I think Nintendo is once again a little too over zealous with their ideas. I'm not saying motion sensitive controls aren't a great idea, I just think it's being executed horribly in 90% of the games they've shown. I miss the old days when Nintendo use to release good games. What do we have now? Mario in space and another Zelda game. I'll take an immersive, life-like 3d enivironment over a cheap gimmick any day. Nintendo had the right idea with DS (even though the touch screen isn't being used to it's potential in most games), but the Wii is just a joke.

gusthegoose08
gusthegoose08

this game is gonna kick ass, it doesn't need to online play to complete dominate, plus the game would be delayed and would come out later if they did go online with. The NFL season would most likely be over by then. Watch yall Wii haters whose gonna win this next gen console war......

-wardrobe-
-wardrobe-

no online play, means me no pay.

gholam89
gholam89

sounds cool, aside from the decent graphics and no online play, this looks like an awesome game

psycotictaratua
psycotictaratua

I'm so sick of these graphics arguments. Don't get me wrong, I'm a technophile and love seeing good graphics, but if the best thing about a game is it's graphics, you will play it for 3 weeks and then forget about it. A truly good game isn't one that has a nice gfx engine, it's one that you will play years later and completely forget about the graphics, because you are having so much fun. Besides, if the highlight of your console games is graphics, my computer has you creamed. This game is looking like it could be a real break from plain old football games, my only concern is that I don't like putting faith in EA.

ReaperXxxx
ReaperXxxx

Wait...WHAT? No online play? You've got to be kidding me. If true, that is an outright disgrace. Gamecube graphics and no online play. Lets see...no. I'll stick with the 360 version of this one this year. I'm psyched for the Wii, but not offering online play in a next-gen game is just plain BS.

walkerctranger
walkerctranger

thank god a madden game that isnt identical to last.

NND1
NND1

I can't wait 2 get my handz on a WII

Willy105
Willy105

Who knows, this version might sell more of the other versions becouse it's easier to play.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

This will be the first time I buy a Madden game the week it comes out. I hope it's worth it.

toadblat
toadblat

I hope they don't screw it up...

Seymour47
Seymour47

djenhancr "I haven't cared for Madden in years but I am definitely willing to try this out. It just looks like a good experience can be had with this game. Especially with other people." jmac777 "Madden doesnt Excite me anymore....but I do want to try it out on the Wii" -----------------------------------------------This is exactly what Nintendo is gunning for with the Wii. With the change of controller it is bringing in people that normally wouldn't play. The lack of a graphical upgrade and no online play is a bit of a drawback. But, really, do I absolutely need to be able to see my players sweat? Suffice to say that Madden 08 will have a greatly upgraded look and it better damn well have online, for Nintendo's sake. Overall, it seems he Wii is having the effect Nintendo was intending. And it hasn't even come out yet.

Seymour47
Seymour47

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

LikwidX3
LikwidX3

whoa maddens gonna own, i like this because wii games are gonna get seperate reviews from other consoles with the same game, simply because of the awesome remote, cant wait to play

GKBeetle
GKBeetle

Holy crap, this sounds cool!!! I haven't played a football video game since the NES, but this could get me back into it.

jmac777
jmac777

Madden doesnt Excite me anymore....but I do want to try it out on the Wii