IGN Review of Madden NFL 07
No matter how into sports games you are or what your stance is on EA's business moves with its franchises, getting Madden 07 on Wii for launch is more than just a small victory for the system. When it comes down to gaming support from casual gamers, Madden and Grand Theft Auto lead the pack, and while we don't have any real-motion stabbing on the system, we can literally step into the pocket with Michael Vick, Brad Johnson, or Brett Favre in the Wii version of Madden 07. For a system entirely based on motion control and player immersion, there's no better fit than the sports genre. Nintendo realized this and packed in Wii Sports with the console, but what about the big boys? Where's the gnashing of teeth and crunching of bones in a good ole' game of pigskin? Well sir, it's right here. Madden 07 may not be the most amazing transition we've seen on Wii thus far, but it's certainly a gigantic leap in the right direction, proving that not only are sports games a perfect fit for Wii, but that motion control is a perfect fit for Madden as well.
Wii Signs a Free Agent:
Madden 07 for Wii is basically a ramped up version of the existing GCN game in most respects. The visuals got a slight bump, the game is now displayed in 480p and 16:9, and the general feel of the game is both a bit more polished and aggressive when on the field. Taking control of the Wii-mote and nunchuk combo, players will boot up the system, select their favorite NFL team, and start tossing the long ball or eating turf within a matter of minutes. The entire menu interface for Madden is made easier with the Wii-mote, and the general flow of the game is quick and intuitive.
When popping the game in for the first time you'll notice something new within the first opening seconds. A "Learn Madden" mode is displayed front and center on the selection screen and is home to an interactive training tutorial that takes both hardcore football fans and casual gamers through the basic motions (literally) of Madden 07. The idea here is to ensure that any and every player will have a basic understanding of how Madden is played within the first few minutes, and can then jump into any of the main modes without feeling any intimidation. It's the first major change to the product for Wii, and it is definitely helpful, complete with a motion description and chance to test out the moves on the fly while reading. It's simple, and - most importantly for us - fast.
Madden 07's biggest change is obviously centered around in-game control. Nearly every move in the game is amazingly easy to master, and aside from only a few exceptions the motion control works with ease. To juke, simply gesture the nunchuk to the left, right, or back. To stiff arm, push the Wii-mote in the intended direction. Everything from snapping the ball to throwing, kicking and hitting is done with Wii motion control.
Penalty on the Kicking Team:
Not all of it works without a hitch though. Even after countless hours of playing we still have issues with the kicking system, which is very touchy and will send the ball into a slice for seemingly no reason. Likewise, we've had moments during play where we input a motion only to get a zero for power, kicking the ball only a few yards. Obviously there's a right way and a wrong way to kicks in the game and it isn't that Madden's kicking is broken, but it's definitely a combination of player error and sketchy motion detection. After a bit of practice you'll be able to kick field goals and P.A.T. attempts with ease, just don't expect to use the hook and slice of motion control to your advantage.
At E3 an EA representative boasted that office members no longer needed to use kick aiming at all, and that the ball could be fully manipulated via Wii-mote angle. We've put in a huge amount of time, and are definitely not in agreement on that one. The kicking works fine for what a general game of football requires, but it's an area of the game that has become less dependable due to the motion control.
Another area that could use a little work is the "Big Hit" motion control, which allows players to shove both Wii-motes forward to deliver a huge hit on defense or counter-hit on offense. For whatever reason, numerous people in our office had trouble getting the function to work at all, which again is certainly a combination of both user error and extremely specific programming. We'd do the motion, and only get the desired result from time to time.
Aside form kicking and big hits though, the game controls absolutely phenomenally. Passing rocks, maneuvering on the field is amazingly intuitive and fast, and everyone that got their hands on Madden 07 had a blast. One editor stated that Madden 07 for Wii was the first game that truly convinced him to pick up a Wii for himself. Mind you, we've been playing games like Wii Sports and Zelda: Twilight Princess over the last few weeks, and this editor isn't a fan of the Madden series at all. If you want your answer to whether or not Madden 07 is a perfect fit for Wii, you just got it.
Too Many Men on the Field:
Wii motion control makes Madden not only simpler to control, but also a blast during the Wii-specific multiplayer mini-games. Exclusive to the Wii version only, Madden 07 offers three multiplayer games for up to four players. Each of the games is simple in concept, but still very deep. We're hesitant to even call them "mini-games" as there's a certain stigma that goes with a title like that, and Madden 07's multiplayer is definitely very, very solid.
The first game on the list, 2-on-2, is based on good old fashioned schoolyard ball. Teams get five plays per procession regardless of whether they score or not, and play on a tiny field just large enough for a QB, wide receiver, and two defensemen. Just like the classic recess pass-time, defense has to count off a five Mississippi before they can blitz, though the count can be rushed by drumming the controllers quickly. Offense can run at any time, and also has the ability to "buzz" each other, which essentially sends rumble from controller to controller whenever the A button is pressed. Since there's no time to huddle up in 2-on-2 (and lets face it, the defense would just kick the ball closer to where you're standing to hear anyways), you can instead say communicate in code, as the QB can tell the receiver to "Cut left on the buzz." or offer alternate movements based on how many buzzes are sent. It's an awesome mode, and worthy of the investment for four Wii-mote nunchuk sets.
The other two games are a bit more of the party style, allowing for a single winner in free-for-all play. Kicking Combine has players alternating as kickers while the other three players drum the controllers to effect the wind. It's a decent mode to mess around with, but the kicking issues in the Wii control makes this one a bit less of a hit around our office. The final game - known as Y.A.C (yards after catch) Attack - is very addicting though, letting players alternate as QB with AI receivers and linemen against the other human players as passing defense. The more swats and interceptions the defense players get, the more they increase their individual score. The more complete passes and TD's the QB get, the more points he steals from the defenseman that was responsible for covering the receiver. This mode is amazingly addictive, and it works without a hitch. Between 2-on-2 and Y.A.C. Attack alone, Madden 07 is a far better experience on Wii than the previous console version.
A Different Game of Football
Is Madden 07 necessarily a better game of football than the other console versions? We obviously can't speak for everyone, but we can definitely say we had more fun with it in general. The game is definitely a bit different from the other Madden 07 attempts though, and that will definitely come into player for diehard fans.
For starters, the general gameplay is faster, more physical, and more rewarding than a standard game of Madden. With all the offensive weapons available to players with the Wii controller, pulling off evasive moves is simpler than ever before, which makes the ground game more of a weapon than other versions of the game. Lead Blocker mode alone makes the experience of a smash-mouth ground game more intense, and adding in the ability of runners to juke to the side, stiff arm a defensemen and break tackles nearly simultaneously with quick motions. It has gotten to the point where we'll see a line backer dashing towards us, and rather than feeling helpless to stop him we're debating the best way to make him look silly or shove his ass to the ground. Along those same lines, the passing game is insane, as QB precision can be used along with quick passing to smoke a zone defense more effectively. What this means is that Madden 07 is more rewarding on the offense side of the ball, but it also has generally higher scoring games and more candidates for the highlight reel. Is this all part of making the game more entertaining for causal gamers? We definitely think it plays a part.
That being said, the overall look of Madden 07 on Wii definitely feels last gen. The visuals are still under par for a Wii game, and have been compared around the office to PS2, Cube, and between GCN and Xbox. Mind you these are the same people who said the game is a must-have on Wii, but it could definitely be more graphically enticing. Animations flicker at times and some of the textures are very low res, and the general camera movement shows off some horizontal tearing pre-snap. 480p and 16:9 are a saving grace, but there are far more beautiful games on Wii aside from Madden. Simple changes could be made, such as using player photos for stat screens rather than pictures of the in-game heads, and even though Wii isn't focused on graphics as a primary concern there is definitely room to improve with the amount of power in the hardware.
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