It's an acquired taste. Like olives. You've also got to know the rules. You've got to know that it's about scraping ten yards from each set of four goes - and it also helps if you know that Americans call a go a play, so you don't embarrass yourself. From then on it's a combination of guesswork and skill, as two teams battle for field possession with the ultimate aim of scoring a touchdown. Which is a bit like a try.
Madden on Xbox 360 is a similar mixture of winning by technique and pure chance. Miserable critics will moan that defence is often a question of guessing, and picking the right play to expose the attacker and ruin their pre-planned move. But for the pros, Madden 07 gives you more control over your plays and players, with numerous little tweaks designed to take the results out of the lap of the gods and thrust them down your throat.
You now have evasion techniques mapped to the analogue sticks, so when legging it around the pitch it's possible to choose your dodge style and direction. You have more to do on defence (pronounced dee-fence) this year, too. You can select a Lead Blocker when defending and may switch between two men by pressing LB and B, even targeting specific defenders with the Y button.
The regular game is backed up by a vast Franchise mode, which is your season game. You can go into detail, play everything and oversee the transfers, or just simulate everything and play your own matches with the ultimate aim being, well, to win. The Achievement system is also more evolved - you have to stick with the game for an entire season if you want to earn the big points, thanks to Achievements coming for setting season records for running and throwing scores. The new Live Opponent search lets you track down individual players and invite them to compete in your single-player franchise matches, using people to take the place of the Xbox 360-controlled opponents. You can press LB at any time to call in a real human from Xbox Live. There's just loads to do.
Visiting every option screen and conveniently explaining all Madden 07's new features will take an age. Suffice to say with Xbox Live play, leagues and mini-games you're never going to be bored - unless you just don't like American football. If you do know the rules, you know Madden's the biggest and best NFL game around.
Big, clever and pretty, like Kirsty Gallagher
- Great player and crowd details
- Massive league system
- Hugely improved achievement system
- Loads of mini games and fun bits
- Bewildering to novice NFL players