Although we are a little over a month away until the ever popular March Madness sensation hits the sports world, sports fans can be happy that college basketball is already in full swing. Along with the real life sport, you of course have your yearly dose of NCAA basketball games on the consoles each and every year. This year we already so good results from 2K Sports College Hoops 2K7, and now its EA’s chance to make their mark in 2007 with NCAA March Madness 2007 for the Xbox 360. Can this next gen basketball title have you starting March early? Read our full review to find out!
In some ways college sports are actually more suited for video games than professional sports, because they bring much more spirit and rivalry into the mix. Sure there is always going to be the heated professional match ups, but the ability to have a game like USC vs. UCLA is always a fan favorite. And what better a way to enjoy a basketball game than the months before the epic March Madness. This year the college basketball market got an early taste from 2K Sports, however hopes to do one better then College Hoops 2K7 in NCAA March Madness 2007 for the Xbox 360.
A few things we should mention about March Madness 2007, just to keep everyone as up to date as possible. First off, there was no March Madness game for the 360 last year, so this is EA’s first attempt at making a next generation college hoops title. Secondly, and probably most important to remember, is that March Madness 2007 does borrow a lot from the professional basketball game from EA, NBA Live 07. However EA has also added some different touches to make sure the March Madness 2007 has its own unique features.
Let’s talk about the gameplay first as that seems to be really the primary area of interest for this game. As I mentioned it does feel very similar to NBA Live 07, however some things actually are implemented to improve upon it. First off the defensive structure of this game seems extremely responsive, and in fact at times the defense seems to have a leg up on the offense. The controls for the defensive side of the ball are very intuitive and make for a much more complex basketball game. The offensive side of the ball feels nearly identical to Live, however being that this is college you can expect to drop as many three’s in a row that I got used to in Live. Also I found that the defense does make your time with the ball a bit more challenging as well.
There is a new feature added to the gameplay, which is the Impact feature that builds upon the idea of people really getting into their college basketball team. Get the crowd behind you and you will see that your composure level will raise, and it seems to make the experience even more of a college type game. This feature doesn’t add a whole lot to the game but it’s enough that it gives a bit of an extra flair.
This year’s NCAA Football had one of the better dynasty modes for the series, and thus you would expect the same from March Madness 2007, which is about what you get. You can see that EA has put their minds together on this dynasty mode and made one that gave you a bit more purpose and a bit more tools for recruiting. The mode doesn’t play all that different from what we have seen from the game in the past. I have to say that I did enjoy going through the college seasons and playing some pretty intense games in the dynasty mode.
Visually I was a little let down with March Madness 2007, as with the year off last year I thought for sure this game would be reworked to make a great looking college basketball game. However that was just not the case. The game during Instant Replays looks amazing, but everything else in this game just doesn’t work. The animations are extremely sloppy and the frame rate seems to be all over the place. It’s unfortunate to because we have seen some great work from EA in the past, and March Madness 2007 just doesn’t seem to have all the right moves to make a good looking next generation college basketball game.
March Madness 2007 is a good college basketball game that is brought down quite a bit by its visuals. I had notice some problems with the visuals in the demo on Xbox Live but thought they surely would get fixed in the retail version. Imagine my surprise when I got my retail copy, and find that the problems are still there. You can see that there were strides to make this a good looking game, but just not enough and that takes a toll on what is really a great playing game of basketball.
This was a tough game to give a final score because it hits on a lot of different levels. If you are just strictly grading the game on gameplay, then NCAA March Madness shines bright. Now when you factor in the visuals, which definitely leaves a lot to be desired, it does detract away from the overall enjoyment of the game. In the end, NCAA March Madness 2007 is a decent first outing on the next-gen platform, and certainly leaves room for improvements in future installations.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.