Madden NFL 07 Review
Madden NFL 07 delivers a very good game of football in the series' PlayStation 3 debut.
- A number of key features missing in Madden 06 have returned
- Highlight stick, lead-blocker controls are useful gameplay additions
- Superstar mode is reasonably compelling this year
- Having the Hall of Fame players is a nice addition
- A few bugs from the 360 version are fixed here.
- Game still lacks features available in other console versions of Madden
- A few awkward design issues
- Defensive-back artificial intelligence is easy to exploit on the default difficulty
- Some animations look rather awkward.
It just wouldn't be a system launch without a Madden game to go with it, and lo and behold, Madden NFL 07 is on hand for the launch of the PlayStation 3. Feature-for-feature, this version of Madden 07 takes after the Xbox 360 version from earlier in the year, so if you already bought the game on the 360, there isn't anything here to draw you in. But if Madden on the PS3 is your first go at an NFL game this year, you'll be treated to a slightly less buggy game of football that has some neat features, great graphics, and a few trivial but reasonably amusing uses of the Sixaxis tilt controls.
Madden NFL 07 brings back practically every feature that was in Madden 06 (not a tough feat, considering how little there was to the package), as well as the superstar mode, which was heavily featured in the other console versions of Madden 06 but was absent in the 360 version. On top of that, a number of new gameplay upgrades have been brought to the table, the majority of which are available in all versions of the game. By themselves, none of these individual changes or upgrades is particularly game changing, but taken as a whole, they add a nice dimension of depth to the gameplay experience.
These features include the highlight stick, a new kick meter, and lead blocking controls. The highlight stick is a new version of the truck stick used for runners on offense. Here, you can use the right analog stick to pull off the sorts of crazy jukes and steps that star running backs are so well known for, and on top of that, depending on the type of back you're playing, you can opt to use more-powerful moves, or more finesse-based maneuvers. This feels like the natural evolution of last year's truck stick, though most experienced Madden players will be able to get by just as easily using the button-based moves rather than making liberal use of the stick. But if you take the time to learn the stick and figure out how to use it and the button controls together, you can be a very hard runner to stop.
The new lead blocking controls are likely to inspire some new tactics from all types of players. Here, while on offense, you can opt to switch your controlled player to any of the available blockers during a running play. This includes offensive linemen, tight ends, fullbacks, or whomever else might be blocking on a play. When blocking, you can just do standard blocks, or you can even get dirty and do some mean-spirited cut blocks. This is an interesting mechanic, because it stops you from having to rely on CPU blockers, which, as any experienced player will tell you, are not always the most reliable players on the field. You can also quickly switch back to control the running back once you've laid down your block, which is good, because the CPU running back doesn't always manage to find the holes you're creating. At first, you may find yourself unable to effectively use this feature, as setting up the right blocks isn't always the most intuitive thing in the world. But after some time, this control method gives the running game a really interesting new perspective, and those who love finding new strategies are bound to eat this up.
The other changes to the gameplay are less significant, but they're enjoyable all the same. The new kick meter is probably the most accurate representation of kicking available in a game thus far. With this meter, you use the typical arrow to line up your angle and then press down on the right analog stick to set up your power. The meter quickly fills up, and then you press forward on the right stick to set the power, as well as your accuracy. The accuracy is based on the angle at which you press up. If you press too far to the right or left, the kick will get away from you. If you land it within a set space, it'll go right where you want it to.
Much like NCAA 07 this year, Madden 07 gives you the option to try and jump the snap while on defense. Pressing a single button at just the right time lets your defensive player get a lead on the blocker in front of him and gives you an advantage while trying to get to the quarterback or runner. Of course, this is a risk-versus-reward situation, as opposing offenses will often try to lure you offside by using a hard count and faking the snap. The CPU tends to make very liberal use of this feature, and it tends to lead to far more encroachment penalties than are realistic for an NFL game. If anything, it ought to lead to more false-start penalties on the offense, since offensive linemen are notorious for jumping before the snap. Still, it's nice to see a key feature from the NCAA series find its way into Madden, and when timed properly, it gives a tangible advantage to the defense.
Snap jumps are just one of a few specific control mechanics that are now additionally mapped to the PlayStation 3's Sixaxis tilt controls. When on offense, you can fake the snap by simply flicking the controller upward, and when switching to lead blocker controls, simply pushing up and down with the controller will pull off your block moves. Defensively, you can jump the snap the same way you fake snap on offense, or by pushing the controller forward, you can effectively turn the controller into the hit stick, as you'll lay in a punishing hit. These control additions are interesting, though they really don't affect the gameplay experience in a particularly meaningful way, and some, like the blocking controls, just feel sort of awkward compared to simply using the analog stick controls. Moving the controller around doesn't immerse you in the experience any more than simply flicking the right analog stick or pressing a button would. Perhaps if there were more movement control options available, you might get a bit more out of what's here, but ultimately, though they're an amusing distraction for a short while, eventually you'll probably go right back to the usual controls.
Beyond these additions, the changes from 06 to 07 are mostly ancillary, and fundamentally, the game plays very much as its predecessor did last year. The basic feel of the game seems a little bit on the easy side, especially on the default difficulty. Namely, the defensive-back artificial intelligence doesn't seem terribly adept at handling certain types of routes, so it's possible to exploit those routes for easy gains on a regular basis. However, upping the difficulty to all-pro and all-Madden tends to fix that right up. On defense, there are a few more available options in terms of positioning your DB, LB, and DL corps, and you can commit your defense in a certain direction the moment the ball is snapped. But individual defensive-playmaker controls are still missing, which is unfortunate. The quarterback vision cone, which made its debut last year, is still available, though it's not a required feature. You can tap the right analog stick after snapping the ball, and the cone will pop on, letting you use it for a little accuracy boost. No, it's not any more fun to use than it was last year, but that's not altogether surprising.
In terms of features, Madden NFL 07 brings back the franchise mode and online play from last year's game--literally. The franchise mode is practically untouched in most every way, with only a basic off-season menu list to mess around with and none of the presentational pizzazz of the other console versions--no Tony Bruno radio show, no newspapers, no e-mail dialogue with your roster, no owner mode. It's certainly functional as is, but that's about all that can be said for the mode. The online play hasn't evolved terribly far, either, with the usual list of EA Sports features included, such as the usual head-to-head play, lobbies, the EA Sports locker, and such. One new feature that sounds very cool on paper is the live franchise game. While in the franchise mode, you can opt to play one of your franchise games against an online opponent by switching on a toggle in the team-select menu. This sends an invite to players sitting in a live franchise game queue in one of the online lobbies. This feature seemed a bit broken in the Xbox 360 version, as we were never actually able to get one of these games to connect. On the PS3, we had better luck, though there were definitely still some issues with clunky search menus and a couple of random disconnects. As always, your mileage will likely vary with the online play.
The big new addition to the feature roster this year is superstar mode. If you played the Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube, or PC version of Madden last year, you're probably already familiar with this feature in its basic form. You take a fresh rookie player, of any position, through his NFL career, facing the various trials and tribulations that are typical for an NFL player. The version last year suffered from some annoying quirks and interface issues. Some of those problems still exist in the other console versions of Madden 07, but less of them appear on the 360. You no longer hang out in a cheesy hub area modeled after a player's house, nor do you have to worry about taking on movie roles or getting haircuts, and so on. Instead, the sole focus of the mode is on making your player one of the greatest NFL players of all time and eventually getting him into the Hall of Fame.
- Player Reviews: 49
- Game Universe:
- Madden NFL 2004 (PS, GC, GBA, PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Madden NFL 2000 (PC, GBC, N64, PS, MAC),
- Madden NFL 2001 (PS2, PS, GBC, N64, PC),
- Madden NFL 97 (PC, PS, GEN, SAT, GB, SNES),
- Madden NFL 98 (PC, PS, GEN, SNES, SAT),
- Madden NFL 99 (PC, N64, PS),
- Madden NFL '94 (GEN, SNES),
- Madden NFL 95 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES),
- Madden NFL 96 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES, PC, PS),
- Madden NFL 2002 (PS2, GC, PC, PS, N64, XBOX, GBC, GBA)
- Offline Modes:
- Online Modes:
- Number of Players:
- Number of Online Players:
2 Players Online