A while ago I had a bit of a rant about Madden football, where I said that no matter how much the game bugs me, I always end up playing each new version. It’s happened again, with a twist; my first experience with Madden ’07 was on the Wii.
I’m not sure how well this game went over with critics. Jay said something about the reception being poor, but I don’t really feel like looking it up. It’s fun to give impressions without knowing what others were thinking. In short, Madden Wii is a change, and if it really has been trashed, I think I know why.
I didn’t play enough to test the really deep aspects of controlling Madden, though it looks like it’s all there in some form or another, so guys looking for hot routes and audibles and line shifts should worry not. I’m concerned here with the basic controls. Passing involves choosing a receiver with a button, and flicking the wiimote to throw. I guess that makes it more complicated than in other versions, but I still prefer it. All your receivers are mapped to the d-pad and A-button, all of which are grouped right next to each other and are much more logical than the buttons on a dual shock. I could actually read the line and my receivers instead of fumbling with which button to press.
The con is that the Wiimote seems a bit finicky in its responsiveness, probably due to my being lazy and not moving it far or hard enough. Three times my QB would just not throw the ball, try as I might to get it to work. Wii Sports taught me that a gentle touch works best, but it seems that Madden might be (and Dragonball Z is definitely) telling me to be a little more forceful. The most important thing for developers to iron out this year is Wiimote responsiveness.
Running is a simple affair; move with the joystick, while Wiimote motions launch your power moves. I like this setup, because Madden has gotten very complex in the last few years. I think new or inexperienced players will have an easier time memorizing motions for different moves than control pad buttons, which change their function depending on the context of the situation. Again though, I’m not sure about the responsiveness. My stiff arms were always late or early, and I’m not sure if this was some sort of delay, or a timing issue that you have to learn.
Special teams was a treat. Kicking is as simple as aiming and flicking the remote up to launch the kick. This makes it somewhat harder to land a soft kick, but much easier to get 100% power, and since only a few delicate punting situations will call for the soft touch, this makes special teams that much easier. Gone is the silly golf swing meter every time you kick a field goal. Figure out the direction, and watch it sail through the goalposts.
A few other things to point out:
– I honestly don’t know why you need your football game to look that much better than it does here. It’s not a knockout, but it really does do the job for me.
– Playcalling is horrible in 07. Do all the other versions split the screen vertically between the players? I was easily confused with how the plays scrolled, and the Wii pointer means you can see what your buddy is going to choose (I hope you can hide this).
Bottom Line: EA has done well with their first Wii Madden. Despite some response issues, they do a great job of helping you adjust to the new control scheme with tutorials and in game instructions. If they can actually be inspired by this new challenge and use the Wiimote to give players deeper control of the game, this franchise just might not stagnate anymore. For the players, I found that Wii Madden is by and large more fun to play. The Wii motions make each tackle and throw more satisfying. It also seems easier to grasp the basics of play. On the other hand, I can see hardcore Madden players disliking the Wii controls, as they aren’t as precise as timed button presses. For those guys who take their football games very seriously, analyzing plays and using every move to their advantage, this version would be looked at with contempt.
My take? Screw them. I might not be a master of Madden, but I am at plenty of other games, seeing that I actually buy games other than Madden every year. This game gives me and many others the chance to enjoy a good game of football that’s as simple or deep as I want it to be. I really hope EA puts some good hard work into the Wii version in the next few years, because the rewards could be very rich indeed.