When Madden 06 came out on the Xbox 360 I wasn’t a big fan of the game. I remember when I first played it, I felt like I was playing some of other game and not Madden. After playing it out at E3 this year, I felt the team at EA Tiburon did a better job at making the game feel more like Madden. Normally I can get a pretty good idea if I am going to like a game or not within the first five minutes of playing and I can safety say that I will want to play 07 on the Xbox 360 rather than shelving it like I did with 06.
The first thing that I noticed write off the bat was the controls felt tighter. One of my biggest complaints with 06 was I felt I didn’t have much control of the defenders before the snap. When I tried to move a defender, I had a hard time trying to move them. In 07, I was able to move defenders before the snap with no problems.
Another issue I had with 06 was controlling the ball carrier. To be honest, I felt like I was controlling a ball carrier in ESPN 2k5. For those who played ESPN 2k5, you know what I am talking about. In 07, that twitching and jerking has been cleaned up.
Speaking of the running game, you can tell that Tiburon put a lot of time into tweaking it. Being able to take control of any player before the snap and block is an advantage to help clear out running lanes for the ball carrier to run through. Admittedly I didn’t get as much time on controlling the blocker as much as I wanted to, but from the time I did get, I see how it will help make the run game a blast. Even when only picking up just a few yards.
Not only can you take control of the blocker, but having the ability to perform running moves when controlling the ball carrier with the R3 stick also improves the running game dramatically. If you have a big back on your team, he isn’t going to run around the defender, he is going to lower his shoulder and try and run the defender over. If you have a smaller ball carrier, instead of trying to run the defender over like in 06 with the truck stick, he either spins or tries to juke out the defender. What I like most about this is it separates the north-south runners from the east-west runners like never before.
The passing game for 06 was another issue that I was glad to see fixed. In 06 when throwing the ball, there seemed to be frames missing between the time the ball left the QB's hands to the time the receiver made the catch. In 07 that seemed to be corrected.
Something else that caught my eye was the addition of over 20 new individual ratings. I didn’t hear what those ratings are going to be, but I am sure we will see a few for quarterbacks and running backs. One I did actually see was elusiveness. I am sure that one has something to do with how well the CPU ball carrier avoids defenders.
Overall I am really happy with the direction the game is going for next generation. I felt like I was playing Madden again and not some other game. Granted there still needs to be work on the game. The build we played out at E3 was only 65 % done. David Ortiz promised us that there were a lot of features in the game haven’t been implemented or were locked and we couldn't see yet.
That made me feel really good about what the final product of the game is going to look like once released. We will have more info on Madden 07 on the Xbox 360 once we go down to the Tiburon studios for Madden Community day later this summer.