Preview By: Jared Black
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I know this may come as a shock to you, but the #1 third-party publisher in the world is bringing its #1 franchise to the PS3 at launch in the form of Madden NFL 07. Some of you may be wondering why EA would even bother with a PS3 (and Wii for that matter) version of Madden this year when the NFL season will be over halfway complete by November 17th. The answer, of course, is that the company will make a ton of money off of it, along with the fact that it will lay the groundwork for next year’s version. Fortunately, EA’s utilization of the Sixaxis controller could result in this version being the best yet.
The best place to start with the PS3 version is by looking at the Xbox 360 version, which appears to be identical feature-wise aside from the obvious Sixaxis control differences. To save you the hassle of reading our review of the Xbox 360 version, I’ll sum up the game here. Basically, this year’s version was the typical incremental upgrade the series has seen for the last several years. Along with the prerequisite new rosters and shinier graphics, several features were added including new Lead Blocker controls, an upgraded Superstar mode, a revamped Highlight Stick that works with both power and finesse runners, and a tighter online integration.
For the most part these additions worked well on Xbox 360, in particular the Lead Blocker controls, and further refined the Madden experience. Lead Blocker allowed players to choose someone to block with pre-snap, and then execute hole-opening blocks before switching back to the RB to finish off the play. The Superstar mode had several problems however, ranging from iffy camera work to the fact that some positions are simply too limited in scope and quickly become boring to play.
We expect all of this to arrive on PS3 in pretty much the same form as it was on Xbox 360 (we'd love to be surprised with extras of course), so feature-wise this port doesn’t appear to offer anything new to gamers that have already played that version. However, what may make this one stand out are the new motion-sensitive controls. Much like the Wii version, EA appears to be turning the stale series on its ear by smartly integrating motion-sensing controls to enhance gameplay. The PS3 version will use these controls for jumping the snap, snapping the ball, delivering bone-crushing hits on defense, and finally the Lead Blocker controls. With the Lead Blocker controls, moving the controller in different directions will execute different types of blocks, and it should work in similar fashion on defense when tackling. While this isn’t quite as diverse as the Wii version’s motion functionality, it should still add plenty of variety to the game.
Aside from the new control scheme made possible by the system’s controller, EA is also promising additional player animations in the PlayStation 3 version, including gang tackling. The lack of gang tackling was one of my biggest complaints in my review of the Xbox 360 version (whilst ranting about the staleness of the series in general), so to see EA addressing this is encouraging indeed. Hopefully it will be more than just a graphical upgrade, and player AI will actually gang tackle well, but either way it’s a start. The company is also promising other visual tweaks that should make this the best-looking Madden ever, although the provided screenshots don’t appear to be all that different to us.
The PlayStation 3 version of Madden NFL 07 looks to combine the best of the Xbox 360 version (graphics, features) with the best of the Wii version (motion controls), potentially making this the definitive version of the game this year. Will that be enough to entice gamers to pick up the PS3 version, when the PS2 version is $20 cheaper and playable on the system thanks to backwards-compatibility? I believe it will; after all, who wants to show off their shiny new 1080p capable console with a game released for a six year old platform?
Posted: 2006-11-12 05:43:04 PST