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Volume 9, Issue 3                                    University of Houston

‘Madden’ for Wii more interactive, but fumbles
with poor graphics, lack of online mode


by CHRIS ELLIOTT
Breaking News

    This isn’t your grandpa’s Madden. It may seem graphically challenged compared to its next generation comrades, but Madden NFL 2007 on the Nintendo Wii provides a unique and engrossing game experience that overshadows the same old animations, commentary and game play.

    The Wii-mote and nun chuck correspond to near perfection with the control scheme of Madden 07, challenging players to take a more active role in the game, placing them in the middle of the digital gridiron.

    First, there’s the passing game. There’s no more button smashing since the developers down at EA Sports decided to use the motion sensing abilities of the Wii-mote to simulate real passing motions. Once the ball is hiked by pulling the Wii-mote upward (players hike the ball as if they are actually the center), gamers truly take on the role of the quarterback. When playing with the quarterback vision on, the Wii-mote must be pointed at the screen while holding down the C-button for the nun-chuck to scan the field. Once an open receiver is located, gamers are expected to simulate a throwing motion with the remote while simultaneously holding down the desired receiver’s directional button on the D-pad.

    It may sound complicated, and it will take some time to get used to, but once you start completing passes and moving the chains the unprecedented sense of accomplishment provides the most awesomely awesome payoff in Madden history.

    Catching the ball while playing as a receiver or a defender, as well as deflecting passes, also provides an inimitable experience, but this aspect of the game will require some incredible hand-eye coordination from gamers. As expected, the motion sensing abilities of both the Wii-mote and nun chuck are utilized. Raise them both up to simulate real catching motions on both sides of the ball.

    It seems simple enough, but there are some drawbacks. If competing on the All-Madden level of the game, which moves at an extremely fast pace, going through the motions of throwing and catching can become a bit tedious. Running with the receiver and raising the Wii-mote and nun chuck up at the same time requires the utmost concentration. If you’re not careful when attempting to catch the ball, your thumb could slip, breaking your receiver from his route. This usually results in an interception. This interception generally leads to frustration, and frustration generally leads to profanity directed toward the game and, in some cases, the throwing of controllers. Good thing the controllers feature handy wrist straps.

    The initial difficulty of using the quarterback vision and catching the ball can quickly force anyone to become a huge fan of the running game. Madden’s new lead blocker feature adds more strategy and significance to this part of the game, which has been overlooked by Madden junkies in the past.

    By selecting a member of the offensive line, a tight end or a fullback before the play, gamers get to see what it feels like to do some of the dirty work: Taking control of the lead blocker and wreaking havoc on unsuspecting defenders by using a combination of cut blocks, bull rushes and pulls.

    If mastered, using the lead blocking system can lead to some nice holes, which means open field and big runs for the back. That’s when the fun starts.

    Running backs are given an extensive arsenal of moves, and they all work seamlessly with the control scheme of the game. The nun-chuck can be moved left, right and backward to perform different styles of juke moves, while the all-powerful stiff arm is controlled by moving the Wii-mote left or right. Push both the Wii-mote and the nun chuck forward to perform a power move (the same movement is used to perform a big hit on defense or a bull rush while acting as a lead blocker) or shake them left or right to perform a quick stutter step or double juke.

    Madden 07 on the Wii truly lets the player take the reins. It’s just too bad gamers were denied the chance to test their skills online against other players in the Madden Nation. Despite the Wii’s wireless capabilities, the guys down at EA Sports forgot to put in an online mode.

    This lapse is inexcusable, and probably kept Madden 07 on the Wii from being one of the best titles of the franchise.

     In addition, the graphics pale in comparison to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Nintendo Wii does not have the computing power of its next generation counterparts, but the graphics could still be better.
    
Bottom line: The new controls rock, but the lack of an online mode and the graphics make it fall short of greatness.

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