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.

Witness the unflinching focus of Legos
image: Courtesy of LucasArts
Witness the unflinching focus of Legos

Details

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: Traveller's Tales
Platforms: All
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    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.

    Dead Rising
    Publisher: Capcom
    Devloper: Capcom

    In Max Brooks's The Zombie Survival Guide, the author asks, "What will you do—end 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).

    You won't kill any zombie in the first twenty minutes. During that time, however, the drama builds as you make your way from the roof into the mall itself. When Frank does encounter the humans within, you'll see amazing detail in their facial reactions as they speak. The game play graphics themselves are less thrilling, but pretty intense nonetheless.

    In order to unravel the mystery, you must complete various missions which come at you fast and furious by cell phone. As you run through the outdoors, trying to keep zombies away with a sickle or devour them with a lawn mower to try in a quest to save one guy, your phone rings with more missions. It's a little distracting, but it gets your adrenaline going nonetheless.

    This is an action game, not a horror-based game. Even though there's blood and guts when a zombie dies, there's no real fear here. What you feel is a race against time and a need to solve the mystery to make a big name for yourself in the dog-eat-dog world of photojournalism. As you snap photos along the way and get points for doing so, you'll search the inner workings of the mall. But the mall itself is a strange place for a zombie game. I understand the need to disrupt a placid suburban lifestyle with the undead and I understand the need to have a huge place in which to set the game. This one has five bookstores and over 20 clothing stores. It's a lot to explore. But the mall is a little bland to me, as all malls are.

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