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Madden NFL 07
Preview By: Andrew Joy
Developer: EA Canada
Publisher: EA Sports
Genre: Sports
ESRB: Everyone
# Of Players: 1-2
Online Play: No
Accessories: TBD
Estimated Release: 11/14/2006

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Under normal circumstances, I would not usually feel the need to preview the latest, greatest installment of a sports game, and certainly not Madden at that! Though some might disagree – and I am more than willing to concede that I am no expert on the series – it seems to me that there is rarely very much change from one game to the next, with perhaps the exception of graphics and updated team rosters. However, considering that the version of Madden NFL 07 at hand is headed to the Wii, Nintendo’s upcoming console, these are hardly what I would call “normal circumstances,” so a look ahead does seem apropos. Though still in its early stages, the game seems to have all that you’d expect from a Madden game - such as detailed graphics (which, even though they aren’t PS3 or even Xbox 360 quality, are still pretty decent), training camps and that sort of thing - and it is not as though the game itself will be too much different – I mean, after all, it is still football – but the way you will play the game is certainly something new.

At first, the gameplay in Madden NFL 07 might seem somewhat traditional: when running the ball down the field, players will use the nunchaku attachment’s analog stick to control their athlete, Z to sprint and C to cover the ball and on the other hand (literally) using the Wii-mote’s A button to spin and B button to dive. Players will also use the Wii-mote D-pad to select receivers before passing...but this is where the game starts to get anything but traditional. As we discussed in our feature Control Issues: Examining the New Wii-Mote, it was revealed shortly before E3 that both the freehand controller and the nunchuk attachment have built-in accelerometers to give them motion-sensing capabilities, and both are put to good use in Madden NFL 07. To help guide you through this next section, we’ve composed a sort of playbook, if you will, of some of the new ways you’ll execute old moves.

Passing
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Dubbed “FreeMotion,” Madden NFL 07’s new control scheme has been built ground up for the Nintendo Wii – specifically the controller. For example, when you want to pass the ball, you select your receiver with the D-pad, confirm with A and than snap the Wii-mote behind you and make a throwing motion to toss the ball. And, what’s more, more than just the simple button presses and pantomime determines your toss, as the strength at which you swing the freehand control will actually determine how fast the ball travels through the air.

Kicking
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The same level of detail is also calculated during the kick-off: after using the analog stick to determine the direction and angle of their kick, players will press A to start running and then swing the controller up to kick the ball. However, if the controller is not held level the entire time, the ball can hook or slice...though even that can be used to your advantage, if you aren’t one of those people who feels like fiddling with the analog stick first to adjust the direction.

Running
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When players are running the ball up the field, in addition to using the button commands I detailed earlier, they can wave the Wii remote to stiff arm, shake the nunchaku to juke, and thrust both of them forward to get a boost of speed while they are running. The same motion can also be used when playing defense, shoving the controllers at the screen to tackle the other team’s player.

One of the reasons I never much cared for sports games is that it just seemed easier to go out and actually do whatever it is you are imitating. Now, I assume someone out there will say the same argument can be made for most games videogames out there, but, begging your pardon, it doesn’t seem likely that you’ll ever get to race through the streets at 120 MPH (at least not without some harsh legal repercussions) and let’s face it, you look pretty darn silly when you go outside and start stomping on mushrooms, whether you are wearing overalls or not. However, while button mashing just seemed too distant to me from actually tossing around the ol’ pigskin, Madden NFL 07 is taking steps to bridge that gap, and it is a bridge we will all have to cross together – the playing field has been leveled. Like Reggie Fils-Aime said at Nintendo’s E3 press conference, “You may be a veteran all pro in EA’s Madden football, but with freehand control reinventing everything from the snap, to the drop back, to the pass, to the run after the catch, you’ll feel like a lively rookie all over again."

Posted: 2006-07-08 08:39:35 PST