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Madden NFL 06 Review

Developer: Tiburon Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: September 21, 2005 Also On: DS, GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

Madden is everywhere. You can play EA Sports’ workhorse series on almost any console dating back to the Super Nintendo. This year, there isn’t a leading console, home or handheld, that hasn’t gotten the Madden touch. Whether you think this is a good thing or not, it’s completely possible for pigskin to be played anywhere and with anything, and EA Sports stretched out their console flexibility by bringing Madden NFL 2006 handheld to the PlayStation Portable. With this, they’ve given gamers a look at what handheld football should be, but they’ve sacrificed a little bit in the process and backpedaled a bit.

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Madden NFL 2006 on the PSP doesn’t play much like its console brethren. In fact, EA sacked QB Vision, which is the biggest new draw to the series on home consoles. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed by this or not, because QB Vision was a pretty worthless system in my eyes anyway. They also removed the momentum feeling from running the ball. Over the last few years, players didn’t zig and zag around the field without losing speed to perform spins and jukes. In Madden PSP, however, this outdated zigzag mechanic is intact. With these two comments, I’m actually not displeased at all. In fact, I think EA made this PSP football game more fun and unpredictable than its console siblings. It’s not as realistic in any way, but its fun and that’s what counts.

The only way I could complain about the unrealistic, twitchy gameplay is that it works both ways. Sometimes you’ll have 200+ rushing yards due to the simplicity of rushing, but the A.I. won’t have much of a problem leaving you in the dust. The same works for the passing game, which is very inconsistent. All I could do sometimes was smack my forehead when Marvin Harrison decided not to stick his hands out for a long bomb. In real life I know he’s better than that (ignoring a missed pass in the game against the Ravens this season, which I still can’t believe he missed) and in the game there’s no reason that a vet like Harrison, or even a rookie, should miss a wide open pass like that.

Alternatively, some of the completed passes are downright ridiculous. I can’t even count the number of times an opposing receiver would catch a pass while being double- or triple-teamed with the ball passing through my defender’s outstretched hands. It happens in every football game, which slightly cushions the flaw, but EA Sports is the only developer making NFL games nowadays and they need to fix a few of these annoyances and set a standard for themselves.

The handheld features obviously aren’t as deep as they are on the consoles. EA has kept the main listing down to Quick Games, Franchise, and Training Camp. Obviously most of the time spent with this game will be in the franchise mode, where gamers can do almost anything they could on a console version of the game. As a bonus, there is a link feature between the PSP and PlayStation 2 versions of Madden where gamers can take their PSP game save and transfer it to a PlayStation 2 memory card to continue their franchise on a console. This system works the other way around as well, for when the said gamer needs to go on a trip or take a restroom break. Despite having only a few options, I can’t really nag. There is a lot of game on such a small media, and EA has done a good job cramming it all on.

The only problem with this said cramming is when you factor in the superficial values like graphics and sound. Don’t get me wrong, this game looks great. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting Madden PSP to look this good. The animations are silky smooth, and there are a lot of big hit animations that rock the in-game characters just as much as on a television. The only thing is, when all of this is going on and Madden and Al Michaels are jabbering in the background, the frame rate stutters dramatically. Similarly to MVP Baseball PSP, Madden PSP has frequent stopping frames where the screen pauses for a second or two after a play is called or after a whistle blows. This constant stopping only makes games drag on longer, which is a big negative for a handheld game where time is an issue and quick sessions don’t need to go on any longer.

With a solid franchise mode and impressive technical qualities, Madden NFL 2006 PSP is perfect for handheld pigskin fans or anyone looking for a good new sports game for their PlayStation Portable. In fact, if you liked older football games where momentum wasn’t a factor, this is even better. It’s definitely worth a try.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 8
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 6.5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8
Written by Cliff Review Guide