Madden 07 (Wii) Review
The Madden Football series is a staple of gaming. If youíre a gamer of some kind, you have an opinion on the series be it positive or negative. Either you love the idea of getting into the mind of the coaches and the rest of the players on your team, building up and taking on the best the other division has to offer in the Superbowl each year. Either that, or youíre the type that still canít understand why anyone in their right mind would pay 50-60 bucks a year to get updated rosters and slightly prettier graphics.
However you look at the game, though, denying it as a successful franchise would de downright stupid. The game sells millions upon millions of copies each year and adds something interesting and fun each time. Be it the hit stick, playmaker or superstar mode, there is something to try each year that makes the upgrade to the new version worth it. The Wii, though, provides the biggest change to the series since the advent of analog control sticks.
Madden 07 on the Wii is, pardon the pun, a totally different ballgame. Sure, the graphics look familiar to anyone who has played a Madden game on the Gamecube (their quality is slightly better), the play modes that you are used to are all there and there are a few new minigames. On the surface, it all looks the same. However, when you start to play it, you find out just what makes the Wii version so unique and just how it is both a step forward and two steps backwards for the Madden franchise.
When you start up the game, the menu will have a familiar feel to it, save for one thing Ė youíll get an option to learn to play Madden. For now, though, Iím going to skip over that. For those of you that havenít played Madden before, this is the only NFL football game out there for 2007. Youíll have basic options Ė Franchise mode where you guide a team through a ton of seasons, Superstar mode where you focus on one player throughout his career and an online mode where you can go and play with people from around the world. Sure, there are other basic game modes such as the exhibition mode and training camp minigames, but the meat of the game is in Franchise, superstar and online.
Madden 07 on the Wii uses the newer playbook system Ė instead of just picking formations as you did in the older versions of madden, you can pick from the type of plays you want to run also. This is a definite boon for the novice footballer who might not know the difference between a Singleback Ė Big formation and a Goal Line formation. This doesnít alienate the more experienced player, though as the original method of playcalling is still there too. This is made even easier by the Wiimoteís ability to just point at something on screen and select it instead of moving around with the controller. Small touches like this are necessary Ė they show that the developer pays attention to the consoleís capabilities and tries to use them in a way that feels logical and makes the game more accessible.
If youíve played any of the current-gen console versions of Madden 07, the general style of play will feel very familiar. It doesnít use the newer graphic styles of the Xbox 360/PS3 versions of the game and runs smoothly like the current-gen versions. The pre-season stuff is the same as it is on current-gen systems, player stats are the same and moves like the spin still work out like most are familiar with. After this, though, Madden 07 on the Wii goes off in a different direction of gameplay.
The big difference with Madden on the Wii, though, involves how you do a lot of things you thought you were familiar with. Choosing the Learn Madden option shows you the various new elements added to the Wii version of the franchise. Thereís a new way to kick the ball, a new way to pass among other things. Some of these controls, such as passing, feel pretty good. Others, though, like kicking, still could use some work.
First of all, there is a lot of good to be had here with the new control scheme. Snapping and passing the ball, for example, feels very natural. To snap, youíll pull the Wiimote up and back as if youíre really the center snapping the ball back to the Quarterback. Hold that ball up, though, since youíre going to have to be ready to pass to a receiver to make a big play! Hold one of the directions on the pad, make a throwing motion and youíll pass the ball to (hopefully) your receiver. A slow motion will result in a lob while a quick one will really sling the pass in there. When the ball is in the air, you can take control of the receiver, make an upwards mothin with the wiimote and nunchuk and try to catch the ball. After youíve got the ball, you can stiffarm a defender by thrusting the wiimote to the left or right and can juke by moving the nunchuk to the left or right. The controls feel pretty good and are easy to execute on the run. This new control scheme also lends itself to three new minigames that are designed to be played with more than one person. These are great for the casual football fan and can be fun with some friends around but I canít really recommend them if youíre alone.
However, recently added elements like the truck stick are not easy to execute at all. Iíve tried to truck people on offense and lay a massive hit on defense (both the same motion, a thrust forward with the wiimote and nunchuk) and not only did it not feel natural, the motion didnít even register a lot of the time. It was near impossible to keep moving and hit stick someone which, while it may be intended, takes out one of the riskier elements of the game. Also somewhat suspect is the kicking in the game. While it is pretty easy to get max power on most of the kicks, it is entirely too easy to slice a kick to the right or left, leading to lots of missed extra points and close field goals Ė something that shouldnít happen (unless youíre a former kicker for the Dallas Cowboys).
Overall, I did enjoy playing Madden on the Wii. Being the third version of the game I played this year, I still canít say that Iím tired of the series. The Wii version even came out with something new and fresh for me to try and was entertaining. While some of the new control methods werenít implemented as well as they possibly could have been, they donít detract too much from the overall experience. If youíve waited to purchase a version of Madden this generation and are deciding between the Wii and a current-gen console, Iíd recommend you give the Wii version a shot if the potential control issues donít scare it off. However, if you already own one or two versions of Madden, Iíd probably wait until next year unless youíre really itching to get your hands on the new controls as they are the only real reason to justify the purchase since youíve probably played the heck out of this one already on the Xbox or PS2.