Madden NFL 06 Review

Developer: EA Sports Publisher: EA Sports
Release Date: November 16, 2005 Also On: None

With this year’s additions to the gameplay, EA Sports had a solid football game in Madden NFL 06. The QB Vision, Truck Stick, Precision Passing, and other systems worked out very well and made an offensively and defensively exciting matchup. They tried very hard to bring this success to the Xbox 360 version, and for the most part, they’ve done a great job on the gameplay. It’s just too bad that there isn’t as much to do on this version of the game.

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While the QB Vision and other features have made it around again, a lot of the other features were hit in the backfield. Say goodbye to Mini Camp and Superstar mode, and say hello once again to the generic Franchise mode, circa 1999. Despite the disappointing lack of modes, playing the game is an entirely different experience. The playcalling menu has been completely changed and now you’re given more options and more assistance for a good play. Pre-snap, everything is different. The audibles are still set to the X button, but Hot Routes require the player to manually switch to a reciever or running back, hit the hot route button (Y), and then the button for the route that should be run. After a bit of practice, this system is easy, but it’s not as deceptive, unpredictable, or quick as in other Madden games. After the snap, the ballcarrier controls are also a little different–but again, after a game or two, you should be Truck Sticking and calling Hot Routes without a problem.

Some on-field factors nagged me to death. First of all, it seems like the passing game is the only way to go. Despite having the helpful Truck Stick, I really only ran the ball on short-yardage situations or if I was tired of throwing the ball. Throwing is almost too easy, as recievers catch almost everything that comes their way and they’ll even catch hail mary lobs in triple or quadruple coverage situations. Sure, it’s kinda fun to watch your yardage rack up, but it’s not fun to steamroll the competition. Even on the harder difficulty settings, I didn’t feel much of a challenge.

What can’t be denied is the visuals. Madden 06 for the Xbox 360 is one attractive football game. The new camera angle, despite causing a few visibility problems, really shows off the beautiful graphics. The player models are a little chunky, but things like jersey detail, sweat, grass and mud stains, and facial expressions compensate for it. The different football fields all look extremely realistic, right down to the jumping and screaming fans, colorful Jumbotrons, and various scoreboards scattered around. Sometimes the animations chug when frames drop, but for the most part, there aren’t any graphical qualities to complain about. As a last note about the visuals, I really like the new main menu and how it works. It’s all done on one screen, with no page loading at all. Instead of hitting the B button to cancel or go back, you can simply hit the direction of the other menu you’d like to view and go from there. It’s delightfully simple.

As far as the sound goes, John Madden has finally gotten the tape over the mouth, and I’m happy about it. The new radio-style announcer is much more exciting. I think it was very wise to go with this new guy and not Madden. One small touch I loved was that each quarterback’s “Hike!” has been brought to the Xbox 360, so you’ll instantly recognize Tom Brady’s frantic, high-pitched “HIKE!” and Peyton Manning’s southern pitch. Overall, the graphics and sound couldn’t be much better on Madden 06.

I must say that I’m impressed but slightly disappointed with this Xbox 360 version of Madden 06. After some time, I really like the new playcalling, the on-field controls, and especially the beautiful graphics. However, I’m let down by the lack of gameplay modes. There could have been so much more to do with this game. Hopefully next season EA Sports can throw in some of the gameplay modes that made Madden so different while improving on a few of the annoyances.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 8
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 7
Final: 8
Written by Cliff Review Guide

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