previews\ Jan 8, 2007 at 7:00 pm

NCAA March Madness 07 - 360 - Preview

Last year’s Xbox 360 entry in the NCAA Football franchise did things a little differently by having a definite focus on making the stadiums as accurate as possible, as well as allowing the roar of the crowd and the momentum of the team to have a huge impact on the course of the game. Now, it looks as though EA is applying many of the same concepts to their college basketball game. NCAA March Madness 07 is the latest entry to their college hoops series, and the first to make an appearance on a next-gen console. This entry utilizes the crowd’s favor as a booster for your team’s performance and really pulls you in to the dynamic of an actual college game. 

Starting out, March Madness 07has a menu interface similar to the NBA Live games for the Xbox 360. Playing out like a mini-game, you can control a player and shoot baskets by your lonesome while you set up your game and choose a mode to do. However, whereas in the Live games did this as a diversion, March Madness 07 has you doing this in order to gain a momentum boost. IF you can get a certain number of points in the 90 seconds before the game starts, than you’ll gain a boost that will start you off with an advantage over the other team.

NCAA March Madness 07 Xbox 360 screenshots

As you play through a game, you’ll gain momentum boosts by scoring and stealing the ball away from your opponents. Adversely, you can lose momentum points by missing shots, fouling and getting scored on. You’ll know each time you and your opponent gains or loses momentum as a plus or minus will appear over the players head. Gaining the crowd’s momentum allows your team to perform better, making better shots and so on.

Fan intensity doesn’t only have an impact on individual games. In the dynasty mode, your school’s appreciation for your team will also have an overall impact on how well your team fares generally. You can build up new facilities on campus that will garner you more student support, and also get better on-court assets, like pep bands and cheerleaders that will affect your boost and performance.

NCAA March Madness 07 Xbox 360 screenshots

Graphically, March Madness 07 is shaping up quite nicely, with some detailed character models and great looking arenas. The courts are extremely detailed, capturing the look and feel of an actual college game nicely. Many of the schools in the game's roster are accurate down to a T, with all kinds of nuances that you'd only notice if you actually when to the school. The framerate needed to be cleaned up quite a bit and was pretty sluggish throughout, but that’s something that could be polished before the game launches.

NCAA March Madness 07 Xbox 360 screenshots

The music in March Madness 07 is what you’ve come to expect from the series, meaning a variety of fight songs unique to the schools and marching band renditions of well-known radio hits, like Walking on the Sun by Smashmouth. The commentating is also pretty good, with Nessler and Vitale sounding off on the game.

With accurate college settings and a real focus on momentum, NCAA March Madness 07 offers up a dynamic game of college basketball that will appeal to the inner fan in all of us. Check it out later this month.

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