STAFF REVIEW of NCAA March Madness 07 (Xbox 360)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007.
by Longball77

NCAA March Madness 07 Box art In 1891 a Canadian dreamed and invented a sport called Basket Ball. Two Peach baskets, nailed at each end of a gymnasium and 13 rules that wouldn?t allow you to dribble the ball. Simply move the ball up court using 9 players and the ability to take two steps and then pass the ball. Only time and the fact that this sport is enjoyed by of 300 million people world wide lead to some changes to the original 13 rules. 12 are still in use today. Now only 5 per side and you can dribble the ball up court. I am sure this James Naismith never dreamed of the sports phenomenon simply known as ?March Madness?. 64 teams vying to reach the sweet 16, or are they on the road to the final four. No other sport in North America captures more hearts and imagination, more than this college tournament. College football could learn a lot from the ultimate sports format. EA Sports has proudly released a product that will bring you into the heart and sole of your favorite school. You can here the bands, see the cheerleaders and feel the Authentic College Atmosphere that only basketball can bring you.

NCAA March Madness 07 on the Xbox 360 makes the crowd come alive. You can feel the intensity baby. EA has made hometown advantage apart of the game, the crowd has the ability to lift your average player to Stardom, or destroy your schools best hope at a trip to the greatest tournament on earth. EA has introduced not something you normally would not think off when you are considering building a college team, player Composure. Composure is definitely what you seek when building your university program. Your players get to respond to the environment around them. Composure can be your success or failure on the court. Get the timing right, use the Impact Moment and pump up the crowd possibly give your team the boost needed to sink the free throws or make the next in bound play and set up for 3 points. In Canada we marvel at the American love of their college sports, the electricity that is felt through the television when we sit down on our lazy boys on a Saturday afternoon to watch some college hoops. EA has attempted to bring this electrifying atmosphere and experience to the gaming world.

Graphics, Sounds and Game play are all a lot of gamers think about. What are the AI like, do the moves of old still work or do I have to spend hours working on a new game plan. Game play and originality is where I feel where this game feel short. Stealing the opening from the larger more popular NBA live and adding some street feel possibly setting up some new line of street game not exactly what I call an original idea. Personal feelings aside about the annoying time it takes to load each game or screen. Graphics are stunning and I expected no less from EA whose AI is second to none in any sports simulation game they have released in recent years. The 3D or authentic looking crowds cheer leaders and players are the best part of the game. There seems to be some seem less movement up and down the court and even the physics when playing in the camera floor mode has greatly improved over the years. Now you can jump up and down under the basket and not end up at the foul line. Defense and zone play are important aspects of the strategy behind college ball. Fast breaks, dunks, and hot dog moves are not all this game is about. In fact you will find it very difficult to play the run and gun style. Eating up the clock, lower scoring games and execution of plays will be the norm. The playability and content are far better than a year ago. EA has gone deeper in the Dynasty mode that has made the popularity of sports games sore. Imagine being able to reconstruct the foundations of your favorite schools. There are more tournaments to play (NIT and the McDonalds High School All American game). Included are some arcade like games of alumni challenges, there is an all new recruiting that allows you to build the team that can reach the final four.

The sounds and music in this game are authentic right down to the announcers. The only thing is I had to turn them off. The guys I love to listen to when the tournament begins are the same guys that have nothing really meaningful to add to the experience. So I say turn them off. In the real life drama of March Madness the announcers bring insight, perspective and an informative interaction that makes you want to listen. This was truly missed in this game. The crowds, music and in games sounds are very good and make this section tough to rate. The in-game sounds of sports games have come a long way, with the introduction MP3?s music has definitely become part of the gaming experience. Definitely reflecting the target market the music definitely has a broad appeal. If I could make two ratings I would give the sounds of the game a 4.5 but once the game begins and the announcers open there mouths the rating drops quickly and when they make there comments on the game they fall off a cliff. And quickly drop below a 3. As my wife pointed out they follow the play well and inform you of what already know that you are on one heck of a scoring streak. But you quickly tire of there enthusiasm. And these are the announcers that we love to listen to during the March Madness.

The more I write about this game and the strategies involved I realize that we are talking about a game that is trying to personify the flash, emotions, and the ups and downs of the road to the final four. The hype of this tournament is definitely very difficult to duplicate. My thoughts are for EA to please, fix the in game problem that has plagued every single version of this college game. On Defense with a full court press on, get the angle right and you can run them out of bounds, every time. If you are expecting the something unique and taken to a new level, look no further. This EA Sports fanatic was disappointed with an experience that left me playing a run and run style. If you are looking to experience for your self, the sights and sounds of ?March Madness? go out and buy this.

Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.6 / 10
Sound: 7.4 / 10


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