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Madden NFL 07 Xbox 360

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Tiburon
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £49.99

Madden NFL 07, an introduction.

The delight of having a Madden game available for the launch of the Xbox 360 last year was soured somewhat by the fact that it was a stripped down Madden experience. For many the series has provided the best virtual American football experience over the last decade or so and the expectations for the series going into the next generation of consoles were huge. In fairness what was there was actually quite good but many of the classic game modes that the Madden series was noted for were missing. Although the Franchise mode was included it felt like a rather pale imitation of what you could find on the original Xbox and PlayStation 2. It goes without saying then that many are hoping for a more complete Madden experience this time around.

What’s the game about?

With the absence of typical Madden modes in last year’s game, and the disappointment caused by it, it’s no surprise that the inclusion of these missing modes is a big selling point in this year’s game. The Mini Games have returned (although they are different from the ones found in previous Madden titles). The Superstar mode has thankfully been included this time. The Hall of Fame and Practice modes also make a return. That’s not all we have here though. New Lead Blocker controls have been added. You can now jump the snap. The right analogue stick has been dubbed the Highlight Stick and allows you to pull manoeuvres such as dukes and trucks. A new kick meter has been added and in many ways it’s more intuitive. The game looks very impressive too. In fact it’s a better Madden game than last year’s effort, although it’s still not the perfect Madden experience most would have hoped for.

What’s good about the game?

The best aspect of this year’s game on the Xbox 360 has to be the inclusion of the Superstar mode. Creating your own player and beginning on the road that you hope will eventually lead to NFL stardom is quite an addictive experience and one that will keep you playing for months. You’ll begin creating a player by choosing their parents and hoping that this union will create a player who you’ll be happy to control. Throughout the player’s career you’ll simply control just the one player. You’ll have to deal with the media, agents and the other pressures of being constantly in the limelight. Having to play in and hopefully mastering your position makes for a very different experience from the usual game that you’ll play in Madden.  The new controls also make for a new experience. The Highlight Stick controls (assigned to the right analogue stick) is essentially what the Truck Stick controls where on the PS2/Xbox/GameCube versions last year and allows you to avoid being tackled when used properly. The new Lead Blocker controls are basically a method of creating weaknesses in your opponent’s defence and for the most part they work well. The new kick meter allows you to use the right analogue stick to carry out kicks instead of the classic method of button pushes. It’s a method that works well and feels more natural. None of these new controls offer more than slight improvements but they do help to freshen up the game a little.

What’s bad about the game?

Whilst Madden NFL 07 feels more substantial than last year’s game on the Xbox 360, it’s still not as comprehensive as most fans of the series would have hoped for.  The Franchise mode is still not up to the quality of the Franchise mode that has appeared in the PlayStation 2, Xbox and GameCube versions for the past few years. It’s very much a barebones Franchise mode (with no owner mode etc.) that lacks the presentational polish and features that we’ve come to expect over the last few years, which is disappointing. The Mini Games mode in this version just doesn’t feel as enjoyable as those found in previous Madden games. Whilst it’s nice to be able to play online against someone in Franchise or the Play Now mode it’s not really a worthwhile feature and is something I can’t see being included in many more Madden games.

How does it look?

Madden NFL 07 has to be the best looking sports game we’ve ever seen. The player models are simply excellent, as are the stadia, and whether you’re playing the game on a HD display or standard TV set you’re going to see a Madden game that looks head and shoulders above. The player animations have been improved upon from last year’s version and minor details such as the grass etc. all seem to look better in Madden NFL 07. The presentation is once again first class and the menu system that’s been used is very slick and probably the best seen in a sports game to date.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

There are some omissions but Madden NFL 07 is generally OK for deaf gamers. The game commentary isn’t subtitled. The ‘Ask Madden’ tips aren’t subtitled. The comments that your team mates make on the field aren’t subtitled either. None of these omissions cause any problems though. All of the important information in the Franchise and Superstar mode is subtitled. Media questions, agent comments, exercise instructions etc. are all shown in text. Messages you’ll receive are in the form of e-mails and again are in text, so you’ll have no problems at all.

Final thoughts.

Madden NFL 07 is a much better Madden game than Madden NFL 06 that appeared in time for the Xbox 360 launch last year. The Superstar mode alone makes it a better game and the new Lead Blocker controls along with the Highlight Stick both serve to slightly improve the game play. It’s a shame that the Franchise mode is still not what it should be though and that the Mini Game mode isn’t as good as it used to be. Still with no other NFL games arriving (because of the exclusivity deal EA has with the NFL) you’re not going to get a better NFL game this year and when all is said and done, it’s an enjoyable Madden experience that looks much better than the versions on the other formats.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

(Click the letter or here for details)

Madden NFL 07 is definitely a better effort than Madden NFL 06 on the Xbox 360. In terms of content it still falls short of the versions that have appeared on other formats over the past few years, which is a little disappointing. However, the inclusion of the Superstar mode and the new controls help to make this a much more satisfactory 'next generation' version of the game than last year's Xbox 360 debut title.