Madden NFL 07 Review
If you’re new to Madden on next generation consoles, coming to the PS3 without a stop on the Xbox 360 along the way, then you’re in for some surprises. Madden NFL 07 on the PS3 is not the PS2 version of the game with prettier graphics, but pretty much a whole new game. If you’ve played the Xbox 360 version of the game, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. In fact, if you’re one of the few 360/PS3 owners, the two games are so similar that there’s no point in owning both.
Let’s start with the graphics, because that’s probably the biggest reason why people pony up the big bucks for a next generation system. It’s hard to imagine anyone being disappointed with the game’s great visuals and with an HD set things look even better. The stadiums are presented in incredible detail, and to prevent you from missing this fact the game constantly cuts away to shots from all sorts of angles between play. I found the girder superstructure of Qwest Field to be particularly impressive. On the field player animations are smooth and realistic and you can even watch the turf take a beating as the game wears on. While elaborating on the game’s graphics, I should mention that the game’s interface went through an overhaul in the move to next-gen without the success of graphical upgrade. The cascading pop-up menu system seems to have been designed to catch you in some endless loops or trap you in same game mode that you really don’t want to play at the moment. Hopefully this system will be cleaned up by the time Madden 08 rolls around.
Another shock in store for Madden veterans is the lack of Madden himself in the game. The game uses a nameless announcer from your team’s “hometown radio network” and while it’s kind of cool to have an announcer who is biased towards your team, the number of lines of dialog has taken a dramatic hit from the number included in previous generation titles. I’d rather have a neutral national broadcast team that made the game’s commentary more realistic than listen to the same lines repeated too many times.
On the field the game adds a new blocking mechanic that gives you some control over the lead blocker for your back. The idea is that you can pick the right block to open up a nice hole for your back to exploit. The game makes use of the Sixaxis controller’s motion sensor to give you control over your blocker, and this works a lot better than in other versions of the game which required additional controller button presses in the midst of controlling your running back. I was able to use this feature more on the PS3 than on other systems, but most of the time I forgot it was there. I’m sure that with some practice some people could really take advantage of it. You can also use the motion sensor for a few other tasks like faking the snap. In spite of the motion sensing coolness, I have to admit that I miss the rumbling that accompanies pounding the line of scrimmage in all other versions of Madden – well except for the portables that is.
Another change from previous years is the replacement of the truck stick with the new highlight stick feature. This allows you to pull of special moves to dodge tackles or squeeze a few more yards out of a run. I was able to take advantage of and get a lot more use out of this feature, and I liked the fact that the league’s stars have their own unique signature highlight moves.