Madden NFL 07
is back with your usual assortment of features: the standard season, tournament and so forth. But what excites most players is the deeeeeep
Dynasty mode and the new revamped Superstar Mode.
The former has the customary options to be a number of multiple teams per season, making trades, signing coaches and so forth. Since I hadn’t played a lot of Madden in the last couple years, I didn’t even realize how crazy things had become. Of course, you can still adjust prices for everything from luxury boxes, parking and those big pretzels that are oh-so-delicious with just a smidge of mustard and… well, you get the point. A lot of options here, but more or less the same as other years outside of the on field action (which I will touch on soon…).
Superstar mode is pretty dang awesome. Let’s make that 100% clear, it ROCKS. Basically, it is similar to last year’s, meaning you select some parents that will lead to your desired position (Punter…"eh, no thanks") and proceed through the NFL Draft (in the exact same order as the real 2007 draft, aside from your rookie mug) and onto training camp. Before you even step onto the real field, you need to run through a bevy of drills in hopes of boosting your stats. In my case, I made a running back, so I caught some balls, ran a few 40-yard dashes and more. Some, like the pass catching exercise, are harder than others.
If you are lucky, you will be picked up by a successful franchise, such as the Colts or Patriots, but you may toil for a while under the pathetic 49ers or Green Bay Packers. Thankfully, you can demand a trade from your agent, but don’t get your hopes up. Along with this, you can visit a training complex (once you upgrade to a better agent, of course) get a tattoo/haircut, check your e-mail from Mom and Coach, and tweak your uniform constantly -- “Do I want the dark visor… or the burnt orange one? Hmm…” Also, you can hold press conferences where you can guarantee a win, or talk badly about your coaches. Heck, you can even read some lines for movie roles and branch out that way. Ultimately, the latter are pretty gimmicky and just not worth your time, really.
On the field, you can’t pick any plays, and if you are hardcore enough, you won’t even play anyone outside your position. You can opt for the CPU to control everyone when you're not in, which shifts the camera to the sideline, and makes it feel like you are standing nervously cheering on your team. Also nice is the speed-up ability that gets you back on the field in your respective position. If you are in on a play, you will be sucked down into a third-person close up shot -- nice for running the ball, but a little hard for a QB or defensive back. This kind of dynamic of relying on your other teammates is great for role-play and perfect for getting inside the head of an NFL player. Being locked into a lone position in a team-dominated game, you can only do so much. This became quite evident in some of the games I had with my new home with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In the first couple games, I had about 100 yards a game and a touchdown in 2 wins, while our defense (having a host of 90+ guys) dominated. However, against the tough opponents of the Colts and the Steelers, they shredded our defense. Now, when you are down against any team in football, it is not prudent to run a lot. So, with a grimace on my face as Peyton throws another TD to Marvin, I knew I wasn’t getting many touches in the 2nd half, as we tried to claw our way back. In those two losses, I had about 20 yards and a TD. However, we played the powder puff Texans the next week and I ripped them with a career high 185 yards and 2 TDs on some long gallops. The better you and your team perform on any given play will also directly influence your own ratings, and those around you. It is a bit unfair to get penalized for other's mistakes, but it relates to the morale of the team in absence of a momentum meter as seen in NCAA Football 2007. As just a lowly Rookie, I could only raise my stamina and toughness, but later on, you can earn some key roles where you will boost those blockers ahead of you or a number of other positions. Some of these roles include Shutdown Corner, Possession Receiver, Team General (QB), Burner (WR) and more.
But what keeps you going besides bowling over tacklers and winning a championship? Well, in Madden NFL 2007 you are on a quest for Canton, Ohio to be enshrined into the NFL Hall of Fame. You have to meet a certain amount of benchmarks, such as (these are RB specific) 500 yards in a season, 5,000 or 10,000 yards in a career, along with a host of wins, championships, TD marks and more. This is some very addictive stuff folks.
Some new moves and features are present this season as well, and can be fully utilized in Superstar Mode. First is the lead block move, where you can use a fullback, lineman or receiver and lay some serious heat on opposing team with a bevy of user activated blocks; from pancakes, cuts, turns and more -- no game has offered more blocking control before. This is pretty nifty, especially with another player as the running back. There is also a new Highlight Stick where you can automatically perform a certain fancy maneuver based on your athlete. Guys like Tomlinson will nimbly shirk tackles, while burley guys like Alstott will knock them down with a thunderous shoulder charge. But beware, you are more prone to fumbling using these moves. Filling out the list of new toys to play with is a set of team-specific defenses, defensive audibles to commit to runs or passes, and NFL Network mode. The latter breaks down a set of defensive and offensive plays with Sterling Sharpe analyzing every detail, sort of a like a supped up “Ask Madden” feature. You can even jump right into the play shortly after it is illustrated for you -- cool!
Finally, there is again online play via EA Nation for you and another opponent to square off against, although people tell me it pales in comparison to the extensive online options in the Xbox 360 version. Oh well…