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Madden NFL 07

Stage 1 : First Impressions
by Eric Wright (2006-11-20)


Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation

Madden NFL 07 is the latest edition of EA's long-running, best-selling football franchise. While versions of the game have been on store shelves since before the most recent NFL season kicked off, the Wii version is no straight port. Designed from the ground up specifically to take advantage of the motion-sensing capability in the Wii controllers, Madden NFL 07 appears to strike a rare balance of making a fun, accessible game of football without sacrificing any of the depth the series is known for.

When you boot up the game for the first time, you are greeted by a Learn Madden mode which explains how to use the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to pull off various moves using EA's new FreeMotion control. The game then gives you the opportunity to practice these moves, giving you feedback on whether your attempts were successful. You can theoretically practice these moves all day, or until they become second nature. Thankfully, you won't need all day to master these moves, as they are highly intuitive and responsive. What's more, if ever you feel like going back to practice these moves, you can do so at any time, even during the middle of a game. While I can forsee some annoyed friends who have to watch their buddy practice a crucial kick 100 times before attempting the real thing for the go-ahead score from 45 yards out, the ability to refresh and refine your potency with the FreeMotion control is a welcome one.

Snaps, bullet passes, lobs, jukes, stiff arms, catches, interceptions, shoves, and big hits are all handled with FreeMotion control. Snap the ball with a quick flick of the Remote, and your receivers will be shown with one of the four directional buttons (or the A button for a fifth receiver) over their head. Press that button and make a throwing motion with the Remote, and the quarterback will deliver the ball. You can take control of the receiver with a single press of the button, and raising the controllers will raise his hands so you can make the catch. Once the ball is in his hands, the receiver has access to the same moves as a running back does: move the nunchuk with a snap of the wrist and your player will juke left or right; hold the Remote out with a stiff arm, and your player will shove an arm into the face of oncoming tacklers.


It's never been more fun to throw a virtual football.

In the event that a defender catches up with you and wraps his arms around you, you can rapidly drum both controllers to try to break the tackle. Thrusting both controllers forward will cause your player to lower his head and charge into oncoming defenders, hoping to knock them off their feet and clear himself a pathway. On defense, using this same motion with the controllers will cause a big hit, while waving the Wii Remote will wave your players arm to knock down passes, and raising both controllers will raise his arms for an interception. The moves themselves feel natural, and add a new, truly engaging level of interactivity that makes standard button presses seem mundane as a result.

Madden won't be winning any presentation awards from The Wiire. The series has never had the prettiest player models, with most of them looking cartoonishly fat and stubby while others are far too scrawny. To make matters worse, the models and textures present here look like they were pulled right from the GameCube version of the game. These graphics are so last-gen that even the Xbox version of Madden 07 looks better in comparison.


These are some big boys, even for linemen. Madden could benefit from a graphical overhaul.

The audio suffers as well. John Madden and Al Michaels provide generally competent, sometimes entertaining commentary on the games, but a lot of their lines are recycled from past games. The worst part, though, is the game's use of the speaker on the Wii Remote (which you can't turn off without sacrificing all the game's sound effects, and the player chatter and hit sounds are actually quite good). When at the line of scrimmage, you're supposed to hear your quarterback calling signals and the snap count. Unfortunately, the audio comes out in broken spurts, making a crisp "HUT!" sound like a scratched CD.

However, you owe it to yourself to look past the poor presentation to experience this gameplay. Find out just how good it is in Stage 2.

Stage 2: Analysis >


Stage 1: Impressions

Stage 2: Analysis

Stage 3: Evaluation