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Madden NFL 06 Review

Developer: Tiburon Publisher: EA
Release Date: August 8, 2005 Also On: GCN, PC, PS2 and Xbox

Being the NFL exclusive title for the next decade, you will be buying a lot of Madden if you want your football fix. But will not having any competition hinder what we see from EA’s football title at all? Looking back to last year, I determined that ESPN Football 2K5 was the better of the two football games. The presentation, and animation was that much better and the gameplay was all over Madden. All that it lacked was depth. But for a $20 price tag, you couldn’t go wrong. Now with Madden back up to $50, can you really justify buying Madden this year? Perhaps if all you play are sports games. This is not your must-have game.

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There really hasn’t been too much added to the visual concept of Madden from last year. Everything pretty much has stayed similar except for a few new animations to compensate for a receiver not making blind catches and the addition of the truck stick. Stadium presentation looks nice, but is nowhere near the look of ESPN 2K5 or NCAA 06. The crowd is just rather dull and lifeless except for the 4 fans you see in short cut-scenes. ESPN showed more of the crowd in their game last year and still outdoes Madden. Actual presentation is sub par to 2K5 as well. The ESPN look and feel of 2K5 was just that good and really made it feel like a live telecast. Madden just feels like a game with how it is presented.

If you were expecting the commentary to get any better, you’re going to be disappointed. There have been barely any changes to what Al and John say during the game. Most of what Madden says can still be found in 2002 and in the other versions after it. That really doesn’t help fix the problem here making the tiresome dialogue even more tiresome. 2K5 still has the better commentary by far along with cameos from Chris Berman who truly makes the game of football. NCAA 06 really takes the cake though through commentary giving you multiple analysts lending their talents to the game. Gameplay feel is nothing compared to NCAA 06. The crowd just roars to life on the college game, and if dull on the pro game that is supposed to be better. That makes you wonder if you should just buy the college game. That definitely is a disappointment.

The biggest addition to Madden that you will probably spend most of your time attending to is Superstar Mode. This can be used to continue your fun with your NCAA player in Race for the Heisman or your NFL Street 2 character from Own the City. You can start a player from scratch, however, if you do not have either of these titles. You will be given pairs of parents to make your superstar from and what position he is best fitted for. Try to find the best combination possible for creating your superstar to ensure he is that good. You will not find many high IQ fathers who were Pro Bowl QB’s with super model mothers who are scientists. Just find a good combination for what you want to achieve. You are then entered in the 2005 NFL Draft. I did two different superstars and both went in the 4th round. One was from NFL Street 2 and the other was from scratch. Your best bet to get a good team and big contract is to go with your NCAA player.

You will then go through your player’s career, making many decisions as to the kind of player you want to be. You can be a distraction like Terrell Owens or a leader like Brett Farve. Just depends on the kind of choices you make. How you play and look on the field also has an impact on how you are perceived as well. The more popular and marketable you become, you will get endorsement deals from the help of the agent you hire and make more money. You can then advance your small apartment to a house, condo, or even a mansion once you make it big. You will have no control over your team however except on the depth charts. You will not be making choices with trades and such unless you demand a trade for yourself. There is practice sessions that you will need to perform well in to increase your player’s stats for the upcoming week. Practice lousy and you will lose stats.

There have been some questionable tweaks to the gameplay that really hurt the pick-up-and-play value a lot. While Precision Passing allows you to guide a ball to different places on your receiver, you need to lock onto your wideout with the new QB Vision. The QB Vision is shown by a cone of light on the field showing where the QB is looking. If a WR is not in this cone, then you will more than likely not get him the ball if you throw it. While it is easy to change where you look, it takes attention off your QB.

As a result of QB Vision, you will be sacked a countless number of times before you even have a chance to react to changing your sight line. While in 05 you may have been sacked 1 or 2 times a game, this will now increase to 6 or 7 times a game. What really sucks about the QB Vision is that it shows up during online play to your opponent. This shows them exactly where the ball is going so they will be more likely to pick it off than in previous versions. This has annoyed me greatly through playing it online. The truck stick however is a welcome addition to rival the hit stick added last season for the defense. The truck stick allows an offensive player to run defenders over when you have the ball. While this makes you more likely to fumble, it will help you power it up the middle.

Franchise mode is still in Madden and hasn’t changed a bit since 2005. You still have the small assortment of mini-games that haven’t changed since 2003. Depth is still Madden’s forte however which will keep you playing for extended periods of time through Franchise, Superstar, and Online play. Online play has been upgraded though to create more “fair� gameplay. There is a rank system in place that shows a person’s skill level besides their actual record with “1� being the worst. The Fair Play mode is in effect for all ranked games online however. This prevents you from going for it on fourth down during the game, even if you are on the goal line at 4th and Inches. The only time it is turned off is if you are losing in the last 2 minutes of the 2nd and 4th quarters. It’s not exactly fair play though with your opponent knowing where the ball is going on a pass play every time with the QB Vision.

If Madden is your yearly pick up, by all means go out and get it. You’ll be receiving more of what you’ve grown to enjoy, but only aggravated by the QB Vision. Just because this is your only alternative for NFL this year doesn’t mean you need to buy it. ESPN 2K5 is much better than Madden 06 and is only about $10 now. If you want something new however, go out and buy NCAA 06, also from EA, which runs circles around this year’s Madden. Race for the Heisman and the presentation alone are well worth the money. Madden really needs to step up its game next year if they want to justify being the NFL exclusive for the next ten years.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 8.5
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 9.5
Final: 8.1
Written by Shawn Review Guide