I must admit that I was a huge NFL 2K series fan. I loved the first person mode, I thought the game controlled better; I just preferred it. So naturally when I caught wind of EA Sports buying exclusive rights to the NFL license, I was furious. However, several years into their deal, EA has released a Madden that has made me re-think my loyalty.

This game is a productivity-killer. I had to tear myself away just to write this damn review. Why is it so addictive? For one, there’s the awesome Superstar: Hall of Fame mode where you take a single player through his career. This alone justifies the purchase. You really get a feel for your position. As Bud Daniel, running back for the Browns, I’ve led us to a perfect 9-0 start to our season by learning my role, playing a team game, and doing the grunt work needed for us to win. Block a defender? No problem. Run up the middle for a few tough yards? I’m on it. Heck, I’ve even learned to run routes to catch passes down field, something I was terrible at when I started. All of this comes with practice, so the game gives you plenty of time to work on your plays. You can also opt to not play when your superstar is off the field. This takes allot of the game out of your control, but further immerses you in your created persona. You also gain specialization roles through your play. For example, the first one I earn was Blocking Back, due to my skill at levelling defenders while protecting the quarterback. This gives me the option of pumping up our blocking and/or weaking the defense’s attack. Other roles include Captain Comeback for quarterbacks, Coffin Corner for kickers, and Enforcer for defensive backs.

The other big draw for me is creating custom teams. You can not only pick uniform colors and stock logos, but you can import your own artwork for logos, endfield designs, and even helmets. I get the creative jollies when my teams come together. I’ve created my sister and I’s old highschool football teams and a number of collegiate teams (Ohio State, USC, Texas, Miami (FL), Michigan, Penn State, etc). It takes allot of testing and re-editing ,but man, is it satisfying to see my work take the field. I can spend hours just building and tweaking teams (for anyone interested in doing this kind of thing, I’d recommend SportsLogos.net for example artwork and inspiration). Now we all know that EA Sports scrimped and stuck us PC users with the current-gen version of the game. However, it’s not a straight port, thank goodness. For one, the menu system is gold. Everything is easy to access with out going through multiple layers and menu screens. My favorite addition is the ability to scroll drop-down menus with your mouse wheel without having to open them. Just hover your mouse over the menu and roll the wheel, and it changes. This is very useful when working with allot of teams and/or players, or when creating players.

Also, the game’s graphics are a step up on the current-gen console versions. It’s no Xbox 360 port, that’s for sure, but it’s still a nice looking game. At 1280×1024 with all options turned on, the game is a real looker (click on the pics for bigger screens). The turf gets torn up, the players kick up water on wet fields, the uniforms have a subtle glean to them, and it all comes together to create an attractive experience. My biggest complaint is that there doesn’t seem to be an anti-aliasing or anisotropic filtering option in the game. All in all, I still hope that this year’s is the last PC current-gen offering. Madden 08 had better be next-gen! Do you hear me, EA?!

For a company that touts it’s ESPN license, EA sure dropped the ball here. ESPN has Monday Night Football now and it’s not even included. There’s also just about no ESPN intergration period. I was sadly disappointed.Madden 07 is a well-optimized game as far as performance is concerned. Even a modest system (Athlon XP 1.6 Ghz, Radeon X1600 Pro, 512MB RAM) can run this game on high with a good framerate.

This game gives me the same fits that NFL Head Coach and several EA Sports demos have given me as far as my DirectX version goes. They  all claim I don’t have a recent version and therefore won’t install. I’ve tried the drivers off of Microsoft’s website, I’ve used the drivers they provide, and I’ve even gotten drivers off of other game discs. In the end, I’ve had to manually copy and install the files off of the disc or out of an archive onto my drive to be able to play. I’m really getting sick of this. No other company’s games give me trouble like this. In the end, even though Madden NFL 07 is the only football game in town, thankfully it’s a good one. I highly recommend it to any football enthusiast. Alphasim out.