Madden

If you aren't familiar with the Madden football franchise from EA Games, now in its 17th year, you probably haven't been ever around video games. To gamers who have played recent versions, there are not a ton of new options, new looks or anything drastically different from the last few years besides the updated rosters, player ratings and coaches.

That said, some of the new options, such as allowing you to play as the lead blocker on plays opens up new parts of the game to players, particularly that friend of yours who plays non-stop and hasn't lost since 1998. Your half-back doesn't need to get stalled in the backfield any longer by a missed block, but for those who don't care to engage this option, the game still plays just fine.

As always, EA has smoothed the graphics a little more, and the newest incarnation is awesomely closer to looking like real-life. The game controls remain similar to the prior versions and, even if you haven't played in 10 years players should be able to pick it up and feel comfortable in under a half hour.

The biggest complaint is that the computer AI is never the equal of playing against another human. That said, the AI still will put up a challenge and play you hard. With a myriad of game-play options, from exhibitions to playoffs, practice sessions and a new mini-game End-to-End where you try and run through defenders from, you guessed it, one endzone to the other, there are plenty of ways to stay entertained while playing.

Of course, for most players, the main feature is the franchise mode, with the ability to control all aspects of your team's roster and decades available to play. For those looking for the quick fix an exhibition game can be set in less time than it would take a normal person to see Ray Lewis coming after them and crap their pants.

The soundtrack is engaging enough, it won't leave you singing all the songs in your head, but you also won't feel tormented by hearing the same three songs over and over. John Madden and Al Michaels in the booth do an adequate job of not recycling old lines over and over, and mostly are spot-on.

Ultimately, the gameplay is relatively similar to that of the last few years with some small tweaking and the updated rosters. Most likely if you're a sports fan, football fan, video game sports fan or just want something fun around the house for when a couple buddies come over, then Madden 07 will absolutely leave you happy.

Gameplay: 9.1
Graphics: 9.4
Sound: 8.6
Overall: 9.2
Learning Curve: About a half-hour

Madden 07 is available for all gaming platforms

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