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Madden NFL 07 Review

Developer: EA Canada Publisher: Electronic Arts
Release Date: November 19, 2006 Also On: None

Madden NFL 07 on the Xbox 360 was as good as fumbling the ball in your end zone and watching your opponent run it 105 yards for a touchdown. EA Tiburon threw out a game that was almost as bad as the ‘Niners against the Bears earlier this season. The Nintendo Wii version, essentially a motion-sensing re-make of the current-gen Madden NFL 07, fares much better.

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To start, the game’s a lot of fun to play, running at a smooth frame rate and avoiding some of the annoying problems that plagued the Xbox 360 Madden NFL 07. Without even considering the Wii-specific controls, the current-gen Madden was much better anyway. When you factor in the Wii controls, everything gets a lot more interesting. You’ll do everything with motion-sensitive mechanics, including taking the snap (pull up on the Wii remote), passing the ball (thrust downward on the Wii remote), stiff-arming (flick the remote left or right), and juking (flick the nunchuck).

Initially I had some trouble taking snaps and kicking the ball well but after some practice I was rushing and passing all over the place, playing the fast-paced and fun game of football that Madden NFL is supposed to deliver. The new controls allow players to be extremely evasive while running the ball–since jukes and stiff arms are so easily done, there’s no reason not to be doing them every time a defender gets close. The Highlight Stick obviously doesn’t make an appearance here, but playing a virtual Joseph Addai has never been this much fun.

If Peyton Manning, Jo Addai, and Marvin Harrison are a blast to play, Dwight Freeny isn’t. It’s too bad that the fantastic Wii controls aren’t as great on defense as they are on offense. Everything on defense feels too slow for the fast-paced offensive moves. Of course, it’s still a decent game of football, but don’t expect a lot of big stops on most defensive chances. Initially I allowed a lot of running yards and couldn’t defend passes, which was annoying. Also, even though the mechanic for a Big Hit is fun and immersive (thrust the controllers forward), they’re not as easy to pull off as they are with the Truck Stick found on other versions, and neither are interceptions, which are done by thrusting both controllers in an upward motion.

Madden NFL 07 for the Wii is loaded with all of the current-gen features. It’s got the Superstar Mode, which was done much better on current-gen consoles than the next-gen ones. It’s got the Fantasy Franchises, which are always a blast. Season, Play Now, all of those things come standard. It’s too bad that the Wii can’t jump online just yet, because that would have rounded off the Wii’s version perfectly.

Unfortunately, some of the current-gen Madden flaws hold over. There are still some questionable hits, missed tackles, and players clipping together while tackle animations fail to initiate. Pass defense is still touchy. John Madden is still a big pain to listen to, and it seems that fewer sound bytes were put on the Wii disc, resulting in more repeated lines and more Madden hate. Seriously, I can’t stand this guy. Bob and Tom’s “Mr. Obvious” skit should really run an episode with Madden on it. I’d love it.

Madden NFL 07 looks alright on the Wii. It’s got a slightly higher visual quality than the Xbox version of the game, resulting in some good character models and pretty grass on the ground. Of course, it doesn’t look as good as the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 versions. The tackle animations aren’t as good, and neither are the celebrations, stadiums, or menus, but that’s to be expected. What’s done here isn’t bad at all, but it won’t blow you away.

Overall, Madden NFL 07 on the Nintendo Wii is a great effort by EA Tiburon, one that makes me wonder even more how they dropped the ball on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games, if it’s even fair to call them “games.” If you’ve already picked up a copy of this year’s Madden, I’d still recommend renting the Wii version. If anything, it’s an interesting departure from the traditional controls. If you haven’t picked up a Madden NFL 07, this is the best version to get. It’s fun, it’s different, and it’s Madden. That’s a great combo, one worthy of this season’s MVP.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 8.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 8.3
Written by Cliff Review Guide