By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Charles Taylor
By Melissa Anderson
By Inkoo Kang
By Amy Nicholson
By Sam Weisberg
On the Xbox 360 version, the audio makes you feel as close to being in the huddle and on the line as you're ever going to getunless you're drafted by the NFL. The chatter, the crowd's excitement, the trash talking of the opposition: I've just never heard in-game audio that is this thoughtfully executed. And there are audio options, too. Don't like Madden's folksy charm? Use EA's excitable radio announcer. Don't like him? Try just the stadium announcer and the crowd with the players talking.
In fact, Madden is all about options. This year, you can control your lead blocker individually at the line. In fact, you can pretty much control any player you like. You can even see the game from their point of view.
What about Madden, the man? Madden himself makes more sense this year. When he helps you choose some play you've never encountered even if you played college ball, he'll explain why it will work for you. For instance, defensive plays with the word "Spy" in them lets your players keep an eye on a quarterback who has running abilities. No matter what your level of football knowledge you have as a fan, Madden will give you more.
Want to take a break from the game? There's a virtual Hall of Fame here. Not only do you get biographies of greats like YA Tittle. Many of these player sections have short movies rife with their finest plays. Again, you'll play and have fun. But you'll learn something, too, something you can talk about with your friends.
Yet Madden 07 is not without its glitches, especially when it comes to issues of what game makers call artificial intelligence. For instance, when I was on third down, had inches to go for a first down, and was 21 points ahead of the New York Giants, Madden suggested that I throw the ball. Now, Madden in real life is a fairly conservative guy. He'd surely suggest a running play in such a situation. Plus, your EA radio announcer makes mistakes, saying things like you had an interception in the last series of downs when you didn't. These things are not game breakers. In fact, they don't stop a great game from being great. But the mistakes are indeed disappointing, especially when you're paying $60 for the Xbox 360 version.
Additionally, the game isn't completely updated as far as players and coaches go. The injured Curtis Martin is still playing for the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills have the wrong quarterback. So do the Jets. You can change the players easily with a few presses of your controller buttons. But you wish you didn't have to, and that this function of player updates was available with a click of the button online.
If you want to take Madden 07 with you, try the PSP version, which is also compatible with your PlayStation 2. Even the Nintendo DS version makes better use of the touch screen than it did last year. Even if you hate Madden, EA may have a football game for you. This summer's release of NFL HEAD COACH makes you the leader of the team. It's not just about playing; it's about simulating everything that happens around a team. Plus, you can even communicate to your players on the field via a headset.
If you haven't bought Madden in a few years, this is the time to get it, especially the Xbox 360 version. Despite the apparent flaws, it makes you feel the tension, the passion, and the camaraderie that go into the best games of football. In other words, with "Madden 07," each game of the season has the palpable excitement of a playoff game. Even Marv would love it.
In Max Brooks's The Zombie Survival Guide, the author asks, "What will you doend your existence in passive acceptance, or stand up and shout, 'I will not be their victim! I will survive!'" You'll need that kind of tough-minded, Gloria Gaynor-endurance philosophy to deal with Dead Rising for the Xbox 360.
As you look at the box, even before you play this mother of all zombie games, you can almost imagine the excitement at the pitch meeting. 'Hey, guys. What if we made zombies meets Grand Theft Auto? Not only that, what if we put hundreds of zombies on the screen at once?'
Capcom, the makers of the still amazing, zombie-ridden Resident Evil, didn't settle for mere a hack and slash killing game for "Dead Rising" for the Xbox 360. They were thinking big, really big. There's a wide-ranging story in which Frank West, a freelance photographer, gets a tip about zombie in a small town mall. The wise-cracking Frank, who's shot some war pictures in his time, is a big character and fairly ego-ridden (certainly unlike the proud, but psychologically-changed war photographers I've met).
Frank has his hired a copter pilot to drop him on the rooftop of the Willamette Parkview Mall in a nowhere town of 53,000 people. Outside, slow moving zombies by the thousands want to get in. Why are they lured to the mall? You don't know. Why are there zombies in this particular small town? You don't know that, either. Inside, those trapped in the mall are freaking out. There's a mystery to solve and you have three days in which to do it (there's a timer in the game that keeps ticking down to add tension).
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