Last yearâ€™s Madden did excellent in the charts, it was selling like everyone would expect. Only the thing was, that the game sucked! It was amongst the first batch of next-gen titles and EA chose not to do a cross-platform port. Doing that had pros and cons, the game looked better than the current-gen consoles but we had to put up with the fact that there was a lot of stuff missing that you would normally expect in a game like Madden. When I go to a game in real-life (NFL Europe, but in the US it must be like 10 times bigger and longer, at least) I want to see a great game but besides that I want to be entertained. I want to see fireworks, smell the mud from the field, check out the cheerleaders and most of all, feel the game! I want to be on the field! With Madden 06 you couldnâ€™t, but in Madden 07 you can!
So what’s new?
Not much really. Well, weâ€™ve got the regular franchise, Xbox Live, mini-games and superstar, so thatâ€™s new. Besides that there are 3 new obvious changes; the highlight stick, lead blocking controls and the new kick meter. It goes without saying that thereâ€™s still a franchise mode where you can choose a team (or multiple) to play with for a couple of seasons. Choose the plays, score some touchdowns, simulate the rest of the season, win the Super Bowl and start all over again. After a while this becomes pretty brainless and repetitive and you want some more competition, well thatâ€™s exactly what the â€śLive franchiseâ€ť will get you. Toggle this on and you can do a franchise game over Live! How cool is that? Invite a friend or wait for an unknown (and unbeatable?) player. This will bring the standard franchise mode to another level.
Then thereâ€™s the superstar mode. Is this new? Well to be honest, itâ€™s not. Itâ€™s quite familiar to people whoâ€™ve played Madden 06 on current-gen consoles. Madden 07 simply puts this feature back in, with a couple of new features though. I’ll explain for the people who havenâ€™t played it, in this mode you’ll start of as a college rookie who wants to make it in the NFL (donâ€™t they all). The first step is to choose your parents, and the funny thing is that this will affect the outcome of your character. So you’ll have to make sure you choose the right ones. When youâ€™ve created a superstar you must do a couple of mini-games, which sounds like much more fun than they actually are. You have to run a 40 yard dash, do a couple of bench-press reps and finally do some field practice. This last activity depends on your position on the field, just make sure you’ll make a couple touchdowns and youâ€™ll be ok. So now youâ€™ve got yourself a star, so letâ€™s make sure itâ€™ll become a superstar. On the calendar you can see the next item you’ll need to attend to. Interviews, IQ tests (youâ€™ve got 5 minutes, donâ€™t rush!), practices and of course game day. Since youâ€™re not controlling the team but only your superstar, this means things can get frustrating very quickly. If youâ€™re a quarterback, youâ€™ll be on the sideline on defense and the only thing you can do is double up the speed of the game until they need you back on the field. All-in-all this is a cool mode when youâ€™ve had enough of the franchise.
This hasnâ€™t really changed, it plays like Madden should and the animations look awesome. But as Iâ€™ve mentioned before there are 2 new gameplay additions, the highlight stick and the lead blocking controls. But first I quickly want to talk about the new kick meter. I think itâ€™s great that they want to give us more control of where the ball is headed but this is worse than the last iteration of the game. Direct the arrow to a position you want to kick the ball to, than you pull the right stick backwards and as soon as youâ€™ve got the power you had in mind, you slam the stick to the front. Be careful though and make sure youâ€™ll do it straight! There is this cone-like icon on screen and when you direct it to the left, the ball will go that way instead of the middle where you were aiming for.
Ok, now to the more serious stuff, the highlight stick. This is a pretty cool addition to the gameplay for players on offence. You can use the right analog stick to do the most impossible jumps, jukes and spins you see on TV while running to the end zone. Using these controls has a small learning curve but once youâ€™ve got it under control you can work your magic and do really cool stuff with it. This way you can do some aggressive or real fine moves because youâ€™re totally in control. Another cool addition to the gameplay is the lead blocking controls. How many times have you shouted at that the 360 because some stupid-ass CPU blocker just didnâ€™t pull through? Now those days are over because you can switch to the any blocker on the field and make sure youâ€™ve got a clear path to the end zone. Personally I havenâ€™t used it that much because it takes pretty long to use it effectively. The idea behind it is good, but when Iâ€™m running with the ball I just havenâ€™t got the time to switch to a blocker, make way, switch back, hope the gap is still there and run through. It gets hectic but once mastered, youâ€™ll be unstoppable.
The game really looks great. Itâ€™s not better than Madden 06 but still, the characters themselves are full of detail, stadiums look awesome and I sort of fell in love with the helmets. These are so shiny and pretty, I want to take him off just to make sure they wonâ€™t be damaged in a game. Though one thing that is overdone is the mud on the field. When you start a game the field is green as grass, but by halftime thereâ€™s more mud than grass on the field. A little more subtle would be appreciated next time. While playing the game I often jump back into the instant replay because I really dig the way the animations fit together seamlessly. When you put the camera on the quarterback and follow the ball on half the speed you really get the feeling youâ€™re there. It sounds corky but youâ€™ll love it. When you zoom in on the hands when the ball is caught youâ€™ll be surprised how accurate the collision is. Sure there are some funny moments but the majority of the collisions is perfect.
Madden is the best selling game in the world at the moment, so is it worth that title? Well, yes and no. Itâ€™s also the best NFL game on the Xbox 360 but thatâ€™s not so hard since it doesnâ€™t have any competition. Iâ€™ve pretty much got the feeling that this is the Madden we were all waiting for when the Xbox 360 came out. Madden 06 was just a stripped down version of its current gen counterpart with upgraded graphics, but Madden â€™07 is the complete experience with High Definition graphics. Itâ€™s pretty much the same but here and there are a couple of improvements that make this a better game. Animations and movements look awesome, gameplay is changed in a good way and the durability is improved by the Live franchise mode and by making your own superstar. If youâ€™re a fan of Madden itâ€™s a must-have, even though itâ€™s not entirely perfect.
Final Score: 8 out of 10 - Good (how do we rank games?)