You can say a great deal of things about America in its current state, but there are two things you can always bank on. One is the undying kindness of its inhabitants; the other is its frankly amazing sports. Basketball is sublime and baseball is one of those sports that is utterly boring but utterly enthralling. One that garners the most emotional response over on our little island is American football. Whether you think it's the most brutal sport ever, or a poor mans rugby or even a usurper of our sports name (why is it not American soccer?) everyone has their opinion on the sport. However the main consensus is that it's too complicated and the games so far have pretty much proved this with baffling rules and overly elaborate control systems making the game a low sales magnet in Europe. Enter the Wii! With it's lovely motion sensing pad can it be the vessel to transport the sport into our national consciousness through Madden 07? Let us see...
Anyone who has played American football will testify as to the joy and pureness of a Hail Mary almost as much as Catholics. For anyone who doesn't know it involves a last ditch attempt at scoring which involves lining up your receivers and throwing the ball blindly. Small chance of success, but when the ball is in the air there is that tiny hope that it may just work. It's one of the joys of American football and in turn one of the joys of Madden 07 on the Wii. Actually using the Wiimote to throw a pass is (for want of a better word) revolutionary in gaming. Once you try it, you will simply never look at traditional sports games in the same way again. So let's take a closer look at the EA's first sports game on the Wii.
As is to be expected there is a plethora of game options for your pleasure, ranging from training to mini games to a full season of NFL fun. Full seasons are pretty hectic and it'll probably take a season for non-NFL fans to grasp the structure (which consists of league splits and knockout tournaments). However hectic they are though it doesn't stop it from being a very deep experience. You have control over training through mini games; transfers and the general rough and tumble of running an NFL franchise. The mini games used as training can also be played outwith the franchise and it's a superb way of getting to know the game, rules and controls. Fewer players and more emphasise on individual skills such as passing within a game. It won't force the likes Wii Sports out of the Wii but it's a nice little addition. That's before you even get into taking on the best the NFL have to offer, which carries on the fine EA tradition of superb presentation. Granted, the Wii simply cannot keep up with the 360's sheer power however this doesn't mean games can't be atmospheric and amazing looking...Madden proves this. Commentary is simply amazing, the Wiimote speaker functionality is very good and it feels like a real television broadcast of the big NFL game. Lighting is superb and character models are well detailed, whether or not it's a big enough leap over the GC iterations to please those who like their graphics...well that's for the individual gamer to decide. All we can say is that the game looks great.
Whilst it doesn't match up to the 360 in terms of graphics, in terms of gameplay this version marks a very special landmark in terms of the genre. Remember the first time you got a hold of a 3d sports game, and the realism factor was pushed into a different league by the freedom of movement afforded by that extra dimension. Well Madden 07 Wii is the first sports game (yes first, Wii Sports is too simplistic to win the title) to offer a full sports game with top class motion sensing controls. Pitching passes with the Wiimote is done so simply that a child could do it. Tap a button to pick a receiver and pitch your pass towards the chosen receiver. Move the control slowly and you ark a pass towards them, do it quickly and that ball flies like a sodding bullet. The depth in the passing is impressive as well with spin fully possible and hurried passes rarely coming off. Kicking is also done with the Wiimote and is done by a simple flick upwards, but when it's taking into account the angle at which you flip and the speed...well it rapidly becomes something you need to master.
You also have tackling done by a combination of button presses and aggressive Wiimote/Nunchuck movements to put more oomph into your tackle, holding players off done by a simple flick of the Wiimote to your side and (perhaps the most natural feeling movement) the juke to the side done by moving both controls quickly to the side. It makes for an active experience, but unlike other third party games they haven't forced motion sensing in when it's not needed. For example; whilst flicking through players at the hike may seem like the perfect place to use the Wiimote as a mouse...well it just doesn't work. So the traditional button press is implemented and as a result it feels less like this game is there to showcase the Wii and is more there just to be a game.
There is however a massive down point and it's one that has dogged the series from day one and it's the issue of complexity. Whilst the Wiimote simplifies controls and makes it easier to pick up and have a go, the game is still not very appealing to those who don't know the sport. We have this superb fast paced game but once you are out of the tutorial mode then you're pretty much abandoned, and sometimes you need a helping hand. Even if it's just in understanding what to do in the play (of which there are a bewildering amount of). You also have a few AI problems that can make things very frustrating, such as your own team failing to catch simple balls and sometimes making the most...interesting runs ever seen in the NFL. Quite why you'd try to plough through 4 players is beyond us...but that's what can happen at times. It's a great pity because the implementation of the Wiimote makes this one of the most important sport titles ever but the little flaws once more takes it away from the international mass market appeal titles like Fifa managed to get. No doubt this will sell well as usual in the States because frankly this is the best NFL game out there, but outwith the States it will yet again be held back by the old problems. Essentially if you like the sport go for it, if not then there is little here that will change your mind.
Oh yes, the Wiimote breathes new life into a stale series. There is something beautiful about actually hiking a pass in the virtual Superbowl and it presents a massive step forward for the sport genre.
Very impressive, not up to 360 standards but still very atmospheric and full of neat little touches. Character models are typical EA fare though, when oh when will we see a change.
Loud crowds and usual commentary. Nothing new but nothing particularly bad either.
Multiplayer could last you years and Franchise mode is ludicrously deep and long. Combine that with mini games and you have a game that will last you until Madden 08.
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A very impressive debut from EA on the Wii and the first third party game to truly herald a new era in a genre. Try going back to traditional Madden after this and you will see what we mean, the control offers so much freedom that each match is truly individual. This is truly addictive and pushes Madden up to the next level in gaming...however anyone who isn't a fan of the sport may want to keep their distance.
EA Canada Publisher
I play american football in highschool and don't find it that complicited. The game take a little time getting used to but once you get over that bump it is a fun game to play.
It is even better to go out in your yard and play with your friends for real, full speed and everything without pads.
Working like a fiend isn't very fun... and surprisingly isn't very fiendish either.
Why the same picture twice?
Not really a fan of sport games...
Avoid Games Like the Plague, productivity++
Nice review John! Good to see EA actually use the Wiimote in a good way.
I might actually get this when I get a Wii in the distant future. Definitely looks pretty cool, though I'm not much on sports games.
baseball is one of those sports that is utterly boring
I guess you really have to love the game like me to not think its boring.
I am sorry Jacob it seems like you have to be American to like baseball like the English with cricket.
Nice review Hazuki, nice to see you back big man.
Apparently many American football fans are saying this is the best Madden game yet?
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