Point Blank Review: Madden’07 (First Thoughts)

In days on by I have written on the subject of the XBox 360 I own. The articles, XBusted 360 and Xbusted 360: Part Deux talk about the trials and tribulations I have had since purchasing my console back in April. I am still not as satisfied as I was with the original Xbox console. I continue to knock off the feeling because of the lack of QUALITY games that have been created for it. I was excited when I purchased Rockstar’s Table Tennis. Since that time I have spent most of the time playing FIFA World Cup 2006.

Since I first purchased Madden, years ago, I believe on my Sega Genesis, I have been excited to play the best football game around. In more recent years Madden, actually EA Sports have cornered the football market, since they are the only one who holds a license with the NFLPA and the NFL. I played 2006 for hours on end, season after season, kicking the living hell out of the computer, since I was on a modified XBox and not able to play using Live! online.

I pre-ordered EA Sports Madden ’07 last month from EB Games. I have never been a big fan of using these “boutique stores” because you could usually wait and find the game $10 cheaper in a few weeks. But Madden is different. It’s more than a game, it’s damn near a way of life when it comes to football on a console. I mean they even made up the word, Maddenoliday!

After putting my $10 preorder down, I waited patiently today for about 25 minutes in line to get my grubby, little hands on the Hall of Fame Edition of Madden ’07 for the 360. This is just another way of EA “sticking it to the man” and putting some extras on a second DVD, along with a few other features that are not included in the other version. I went in without any preconceived notions. I did not read any reviews or check out any demos of the game prior to release. I figured past experience with Madden spoke volumes, so I was anticipating this game to exceed any I had played to date on the 360.

*sigh* Well, my first impressions are not as stellar as I thought they would be. Graphically it’s amazing looking! The players, the stadiums, the animations, moves, you name it the XBox 360 cannot be beat. But the playability seemed to lack just a bit. I have heard this before with other Madden ’06 for the 360, which was one reason I did not upgrade and buy for the 360 when I owned it for the Xbox. The game seemed to play better on the “now-gen” console as opposed to the “next-gen” system. Maybe Sony was right to hold off bringing out the PS3 a year.

I played a total of three games today, all of which I won playing as my hometown team, the San Diego Chargers. I whacked the hated Raiders, as LT when off from the first quarter. I then started a new season, as the Chargers, playing two pre-seasons game. After rolling the Packers behind Antonio Gates, who does not seem to drop a ball, we took on the Bears. Well, after the first quarter it was 35-7 and I committed 3 turnovers, two of which were intercepted by the same lineman and two passes of more than 70 yards for touchdowns on two drives. I did end up winning the game, 52-42 in the end.

So I am not as impressed with ’07 based on three games. One of the new features allows you to control a blocker, be it a fullback or lineman. That feature is damn cool. You can lead your running back through the hole and then switch and take control of him. It takes some work to do it well in order to be effective. The dreaded passing cone is gone, which is good. But there are many small things I noticed that had that pet peeve sort of feeling to it.

I will continue to put time in playing Madden ’07 and probably enjoy it more than any previous game I own. But I can’t say this new Madden is better than Madden ’06. I did not have time to test the other features of the game, which I plan on doing as soon as I have time to play more.

What I do wish we would see would be the NFL and NFLPA selling another license to another company in order to push EA Sports to make a BETTER football game. Right now, as the most successful football franchise ever, the developers might have gone a bit stale, outside of eye popping graphics for the XBox 360. Stay tuned for part two of Maddenoliday.