D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

First Thoughts on Madden 07

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 7:32 PM

Just like the man who returns to the upscale whore knowing that there's something dirty about what he's about to do, so it was with me and Madden 07 today. Let me be frank: I'm still very bitter about the exclusive EA license granted by the NFL, and the corresponding loss of the amazing NFL 2KX franchise. However, I need my football fix, and Blitz: The League just isn't going to do it. So I turn to EA and their Madden franchise for football satisfaction.

I'm not going to bemoan Madden 06; its gone, and we're dealing with 07. Plus, I really do want to like this game. EA has put out great sports games in the past, and I don't wish hate on them for the Madden franchise. So let's look at the good and bad after playing with the game for a bit.

Game Startup
So the game startsup, and gone are the typical intros by players and cheerleaders...just a nice EA-HD logo and then to the main menu. As with past Madden's, they let you pick your favorite team and skin the game. Falcons skin...check. Gone are the tutorials on how to play (and the manual is refreshingly thin...just "here's how you use the controls"...very nice) so I guess you just need to jump in and play.

Game Time
So now its time to actually play the game. I played a match between my Falcons and the San Fran 49ers. Nice team selection interface, and the stadium selection is very kewl. Very underwhelming player introduction. I want to see guys run out of the tunnel, not jump around in a group (although that might be because of the "Play Now" game I picked...maybe the regular season games are more polished?). So the game starts, and I do my usual pausing, go to settings and I change the camera angle...I change the camera angle...I change the...WTF, where do I change the camera angle?! Apparantly we're stuck with the camera angle given, which is the first FINGER OF SHAME for this game (unless its there and I couldn't find it...which is still bad in that its not intuitive enough). The quarterback view is back, but thankfully the button pressing has been reduced to just pushing one of the analog sticks left or right. The new running back controls are FANTASTIC! I LOVE the lead blocking feature! Totally adds to the game, and if anything has me asking why it wasn't thought of sooner! Excellent addition.

Graphics are nice, although the crowd seems a little...fake. And whenever something happens (score, sack, 2 minute warning, etc.), there's a zoom in to some scoreboard with really cheezy fake ads (except for the NFL network) and even more cheezy graphics celebrating the event. Very annoying.

Halfway through the game...I stopped. I realized that I was less stressed...I was enjoying the game...there was a sense of...of...zen. And then it hit me. EA did the single best thing they could have done: they removed the John Madden commentary! Gone were the "If the receiver catches the ball and gets past the marker, they'll have a first down" type of comments! Instead, we have a radio-announcer non-affiliated with any network. Very nice!

Controls are very easy to get used to, and setting audibles is fairly easy. However, it floors me that there's no longer the "Speed Burst" button. You catch the ball, and there's no button to mash to push your guy to run faster. Odd. I also noticed that when I'd call a defensive audible, even though I was supposed to push down on the left analog stick to select the "All Blitz" function, my selected d-lineman would still move, so I'd have to quickly move him back so he wasn't offside. Also, in single game mode, you should be able to have something on the screen to notify you that yes, you've successfully executed your audible.

So the 49ers squeak by me by a TD, but I graduate to Madden Level 2 (great feature...instead of the card system of old, now you gain "levels" like in an RPG based on your play, which gives you points (a-la experience). And here is where I experience one of my biggest pet peeves with Madden...and EA sports games in general. Is it that difficult to create an auto-save feature?!?! Seriously...I finish my game, I'm feeling happy about it, and I turn off my console so I can check the DVD...and then I realize that I didn't go to the Save menu to save my progress...and its gone. This should just be an automated save...why, in 2006, do we still have complex multiple-file based saving schemes?! Not happy wit dat.

No online play yet...that's coming though.

Bonus DVD
If you get the hall of fame edition, you get a bonus DVD that has

- All the episodes from ESPN's reality TV show based around Madden
- An expose with interviews of musicians who contributed to the game (yawn)
- A bunch of videos about the making of the game and on how the new features work (tutorials?)
- A retrospective of Madden's career

Is it worth the extra money? Not sure...but whatever

Final Thoughts
My first thought about Madden is that it has alot of promise. I'll spend alot of quality time with it over the next few days and formalize more of an opinion, but right now I'm not spitting acid or anything. The running back features are excellent, although lack of auto-save and an ability to set the camera angle leave me scratching my head.

Ok...better spend time with the "other game" for a bit.

;)

D




Feedback

# re: First Thoughts on Madden 07

"Just like the man who returns to the upscale whore knowing that there's something dirty about what he's about to do"?!?! LOL. I just love your posts :).

I haven't played the game yet but I just bought it today (I've been working tonight and, well, no matter how good a game is I'm not going to cheat on my dear Eureka). 8/22/2006 9:36 PM | Jason Olson

# re: First Thoughts on Madden 07

you know... I haven't played a football game since Tecmo Bowl on the NES. That one was pretty fun though. Maybe I'll give this a try.

I don't know enough about any of the franchises or previous incarnations of football video games to be bothered by a lot of what you mention, so I'll probably enjoy it.

C. 8/23/2006 3:59 AM | Blogus Maximus

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