Madden 07 (Xbox 360) Review
The Xbox 360 launch, save for the difficulty in finding systems, was pretty uneventful. There weren’t any true blockbuster games released and nothing to make you want the system so badly. Sure, Madden 06 came out on the system, but it was a hollow shell of the current-gen versions of the game. The graphics, however, made many salivate at the potential of where this game could go in the near future.
Enter Madden 2007 on the 360. The Superstar mode is here, the graphics are as good as last year’s and the performance feels a bit smoother. Could this, the second entry on the 360, prove to be a game worthy of the Madden Football name or would it go the route of Madden 06 and be nearly universally shunned by football gamers?
First things first – Madden 2007 plays very similarly to Madden 2006. Controls are (from what I remember) the same, the running feels similar as does the passing. There are the new lead blocking controls, though, which add to the series – now, playing as a superstar fullback feels fulfilling. You aren’t relegated to a few runs per game; now you can also block for your running back.
The new blocking also makes playing an offensive lineman or tight end a new experience. Flicking the thumbstick up will try to shove the guy down while pressing it down will cut at his legs – the second option being more appropriate for running backs blocking for a QB. You can also hold your blocking assignment, but that can cause a penalty – sometimes, the risk may prove to be worth the possible 10-yard penalty, though.
The major addition to this year’s 360 version, though, is the Superstar mode. While this made its way onto consoles last year and improved in this year’s current-gen versions, the 360 didn’t get the old version – it got a slightly different variation of the new Hall of Fame Superstar mode. Where the current-gen systems have you focusing on doing position based drills before the draft, the 360 gives you a more legitimate feeling of being a superstar. You’ll run the 40, lift weights and do a single positional drill. I found this to be much more enjoyable, albeit with less drunken 4-man minigame competition potential as is seen on the current-gen stuff.
Superstar mode, for those unfamiliar, puts you in the shoes of a single player. You start off by cycling through sets of parents in hopes of getting the ideal mom and dad for the position you want to play. There are a ton of different professions and hobbies for each – some are helpful and some don’t do much at all for you. This can also add a bit to the mode – want to take a guy who has a dad and mom that both sit around playing video games for a living and turn him into a star? Go ahead! Sure, you’ll have a harder time than the Defensive End who had a father that is in the Hall of Fame and a mother that played professional basketball, but it’ll be more of a challenge to become the superstar you know you can be.
The perspective on the play during Superstar mode also has a more immersive feel to it. The camera angle is on a much lower angle, giving you more of a first-person type view (though not a true first-person view) than in previous games. Also, you can allow the computer to run any plays where your guy isn’t involved, giving you the feeling that you are truly sitting on the sideline waiting for your chance to come in and make the big play to save the team from a loss to someone like the Lions.
Also making an appearance is the Franchise mode. In it, you’ll take a team and guide them through a ton of seasons. You can either simulate most of the games and just make moves to improve the team or you can play each one of the games. Sadly, this version is lacking both the ability to edit players and to do fantasy drafts. Also, you won’t be able to adjust prices and add on to your stadium as you can in the current-gen versions of the game. To some, this is a major issue while, to others, it isn’t that big of a deal. This is something that can only really be determined by the gamer – I do know, though, that I’m tired of EA not including all of the features in the 360 version and giving 360 owners a half-assed game.
There are also some very sorely lacking features in the 360 version – for example, there is no cooperative play whatsoever. While many don’t normally use it, having the option there to have two guys play through a season on one team can be fun and is something my brother and I have done on more than a few occasions. Also, EA has tried to slip one past gamers – in the current-gen versions of Madden 07, challenges have been removed. When a bad call is made, the computer automatically challenges it instead of allowing the player to. In Madden 07 on the 360, however, you’re able to make the challenges yourself. EA is trying to tout this as a feature when all that it really seems to be is a holdover from an older version.
Also, there are a few bugs. Created and trained players, for example, will automatically age to 25. Also, fatigue doesn’t really have any effect on the game. However, EA does plan to patch these things, though that does not excuse them and make it ok. There was no real excuse for simple bugs like this in this year’s version of the game – they’ve had a year to add in a few features and fix bugs from last year’s edition. The online play is also laggier than the Xbox counterpart – I’m not sure if the graphics or bad net code causes this, though.
So, I’d like to present a quick summary of the main differences in the versions:
- Xbox 360 version allows the user to call challenges; current-gen versions automatically call them.
- Xbox 360 version has no fantasy draft for franchise mode.
- Xbox 360 version does not allow cooperative play.
- Xbox 360 version is missing some of the owner mode stuff – ability to move teams, add to/build new stadiums.
- Superstar Mode on the Xbox 360 version has different pre-draft challenges that feel more like going through the NFL combine than the normal drills (save for a couple exceptions) that have been in the current-gen versions of Madden for a few years.
- Framerate on the 360 isn’t as smooth as the Xbox. Graphics and animation quality on the 360, however, are much higher quality.
- Gameplay has a different feel on the 360 – while it is still Madden, players feel like they move a bit slower.
Overall, my recommendation of Madden 07 on the Xbox 360 is conditional – if the items I’ve presented in the above list aren’t game breakers for you, the 360 version is a very worthy heir to the Madden throne. If, however, you’d really miss the ability to have a fantasy draft or playing with your buddy on the same team, you might just want to wait for Madden 08. Hopefully, EA gets everything right next year and brings out a full-featured game – the community likely won’t be as forgiving of these types of omissions next time.