After securing the exclusive rights to release the only licensed NFL game, EA has once again readied a new version of Madden for gamers to enjoy. Last year, they really dropped the ball (no pun intended) and the Xbox 360 version was among the worst of all versions. Even the GameCube had a better, more playable version of Madden football. This year, EA has tried to remedy this with a more consistent version of Madden 2007 to all platforms.
I had the chance to attend a local Madden 2007 party at a nearby Gamestop store. Fellow CVG Editors Emily and Antoine also accompanied me to the event so we could "get our Madden fix" and begin playing the game through the night and into the next day.
Although the game could not be sold until midnight, Gamestop tried to make sure all of the legions of fans pre-ordered their copy, participated in the 30% extra trade-in special towards the cost of the game, and purchased anything else they needed. But only four people were allowed in the store at a time. For those of you not familiar with summers in Texas, it is extremely hot. Fortunately because this event started at midnight, the weather wasn't unbearable.
When Emily, Antonine, and myself showed up at the store, it was about 15 minutes until midnight. The manager saw us and let us in the store--cutting in front of the 60 some odd people waiting in anticipation. I am sure that a few of them were ready to tackle us as we walked into the store. It sure helps being press and knowing managers of stores!
Each GameStop and EB Games participating in this release party offered their own unique aspect to the event. Some showered their customers with all sorts of food and drinks. While others offered nothing at all. This particular store had all sorts of sodas and bottled water to keep everyone satisfied while waiting.
The checkout process was extremely fast and within 20 minutes all gamers in line had been checked out and had their copy in hand. EA launched the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, and Xbox 360 version of Madden 2007 in both a regular and Hall of Fame Edition. There were also handheld versions of Madden available for the desperate in GBA, DS, and PSP flavors. However, for those of you wanting to play Madden on a handheld, it has never been a pretty experience and I doubt this will change anytime soon.
After picking up your copy of Madden 2007, customers were asked to leave so others could go into the store. The three clerks were never rude and as I mentioned above, were very efficient at getting people in and out during the "one hour Release Party."
Some of you may wonder why would anyone go to a midnight release party to buy a videogame in the middle of a work and school week. This was the first time I have ever done this before but it was great fun to see how many people were eager to get their hands on the game. It was also interesting to note how many people were buying the Xbox 360 version. It seems that the die-hard Madden players don't want to get their Madden fix on any other system but the Xbox 360. With Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 versions coming up later this year, will the Xbox 360 still continue to dominate? It will be interesting to watch the sales totals to see the breakdown of sales.
Okay, I know what you are thinking. Enough about the release party--how is the game? Our first impressions of the final Xbox 360 version of Madden 2007 are a dramatic improvement over the Madden 2006. I have found the graphics, gameplay, sounds, commentary, and challenge to all be a step-up from prior versions.
We are not yet prepared to give it a score. However, I personally spent almost an entire day playing. It is the only way I can see my 49ers actually win any games. Expect a full review from myself or Antoine in the very near future.