Xbox 360 Madden 07
Madden is a gaming powerhouse. No, not the telecaster himself. Storied (and bewildered) color commentary man and former coach John Madden doesn't have much to do with the Madden games anymore. In fact, he's been completely removed from the play-calling duties of the Xbox 360 version, much to the joy of many football fans. Instead, the game of football created for Microsoft's console is all about clear and easy controls, gorgeous graphics and exceptionally deep gameplay. Not much has changed from previous versions, but it's still a phenomenal title.
Graphically, you won't find much else on the Xbox 360 that looks better than this. Next to the Wii version, this looks as if it's about two generations ahead of Nintendo. If the Xbox 360's version of Madden 07 was a good looking woman, the Wii's would be an unshaven drag queen. Ugh.
For those who don't believe graphics matter, try ignoring the intricately detailed arenas, the facial expressions of players, and the well-designed interface menus. It's all of these fringe benefits that come with the 360's custom ATI GPU that make titles like Madden very immersive - and if you don't currently consider that a gameplay element, then you simply haven't played the game.
The 360's audio is also impressive, featuring Electronic Arts' "Trax", which are essentially pre-selected tunes we're sure the music industry wants all young gamers to hear, and in turn, buy. It's shameless, and we'd rather see a system where our own hard-drive stored music could be preloaded at appropriate moments (such as some "Welcome to the Jungle" during starting lineup introductions); but it's still pretty cool.
Although the hits and grunts aren't much different than what we've heard before, one central difference between the Wii and Xbox 360 version of Madden is the play calling. With gamers and football fans complaining that the man himself has lost much of his sanity, EA removed John Madden from color commentary on the Xbox 360 version. Gone with him is Al Michaels, replaced with ground-level stadium announcing. It's strange, but also more immersive than the static stuff provided by Michaels and Madden.
When it comes to gameplay, the Xbox 360 version isn't much different than Madden 06 . Unlike last year's, it doesn't demand you highlight receivers with the right thumbstick, but it helps when trying to connect with men in coverage.
Aside from this, the Xbox 360 version suffers from some limited options. It's strange that, even after a year, Microsoft's new console isn't receiving the same treatment as the last generation of consoles, including the Xbox and PlayStation 2. The 360 version actually misses out on some of the neat owner and radio features that make the other editions so cool. It isn't like you can't hike the ball, but it's baffling that the next gen version is the one with less meat on its bones.
However, much improvement has been made to the Xbox 360 version from the very basic frame laid down in Madden 06. It means Madden 07 is a well-rounded football game, although it won't get the "media darling" spotlight the Wii and its version are receiving.
With that said, this is still the gridiron title for hardcore Madden fans.