Review by TheGutsyBat

Reviewed: 08/09/05

Madden 06' WILL satisfy your football needs for the 2005 NFL season

Well, this is it. This year is finally it. This is the first year in video game history that EA has 100% control over the NFL license. However, with that great power comes a lot of high expectations. Fans have no choice but to pick of the one and only NFL game for the 2005 football season. Being a previous ESPN NFL 2K series fan, I had a huge chip on my shoulder as I went to pick up my reserved copy of Madden last night at midnight. I was praying to God that this game would satisfy my yearly football fix, especially since EA boasted several new features, plus their usual graphical tweaks, new soundtracks, and animations. Does this game stack up to the rest of the Madden series and continue the lineage of the "Greatest Football Franchise"? Read my review to find out.

Graphics/Presentation 8/10 One thing that I always felt that the NFL 2K series had over Madden was in graphical presentation. The 2K series boasted outstanding player models, regardless of which platform it was on, outstanding tackle and juke move animations, amazing replays and cut scenes, and the also had the ace in the hole of having the ESPN presentation for each of their games, not to mention Sports Center after each week during your Franchise modes. Madden 06' may not be the best looking game ever, but it's by no means unacceptable to look at. Character models are well done. The facial animations showcase some real emotion during replays and live action game play. Stadiums and fans look good, but could be improved. One glaring weakness is the missing ESPN features seen in the 2K series. We'll have to wait next year for the Madden games to incorporate the ESPN look, and for one, I can't wait. Overall, the game is pleasing to look at, but in this day and age in gaming, Madden definitely could and inevitably should look better.

Sound 7/10 For me, sound quality has been the biggest weakness of the Madden series for a very, very long time. The commentary seems to get repetitive after only a few games, and it's a very rare occurrence that Al or John has something meaningful or insightful to say during the flow of a game. Another thing I've noticed is that a great portion of the commentary has just been rehashed since Madden 2004, which is more then disappointing. The stadium sound from the fans are what you'd expect, but the stadium and home field advantage just can't match NCAA Football 2006. That's something I would've liked to have seen in both games. The soundtrack is...... well it's not very good at all. I'll just leave it at that, luckily you can turn the music off. The on-the-field chatter was well executed, however. Each quarterback has a different tone when they call audibles or try to fake out the defense. Overall, the sound could've been improved in several departments, but doesn't come across as unbearable.

Game play/Features 10/10 Of course, this is the meat of all sports games, and Madden 06' executes it to perfection. The cover of the box says that this is "The Year of the Quarterback," and the game really showcases it. Two of the newest features in the game, QB Vision Control and Precision Passing, cater to your field general. These two new features are executed extremely well and greatly improve the passing game, not only making it more realistic but more fun, too. QB Vision Control allows you to survey the field after the ball is snapped, and find the open receiver. To do this, use the right analog stick after the ball is snapped to look over the field and find an open receiver. You also have the option to select a specific player before the ball is snapped by holding R2 then pressing the corresponding button given to that receiver. After you find your open receiver, you can use the new Precision Passing to help deliver the ball to your man. By using either the D-pad or right analog stick, you have the option to add touch to the ball, place it behind or in front of your receiver, toss a bullet, throw it low, or thread two defenders and deliver it into double coverage. Some people may argue that this only complicates the game further and sends the learning curve for 06' sky rocketing through the roof, but for me, it added a whole new realm of realism, and the rewards are great for only a few hours of practice.

Another new feature to the offense is the "Truck Stick." Much like the hit stick on defense, the Truck Stick allows your offensive player with the ball to level a defender with a monster hit. The Truck Stick is assigned to the right analog stick, and when timed right, can really help you break open a huge play.

A brand new mode called Superstar mode has been added to Madden 06'. In this new mode, you assume the persona of an up and coming NFL player. At the beginning of this mode, you create a player, and then get to chose his parents and their DNA from a randomly generated list. What this does is gives you an idea of what position would be best suited for you. After you create your player, you go on to meet with your mentor, former Broncos RB Terrell Davis. You then take an IQ test, sign an agent and await your fate on draft day. Mind you, once draft day arrives, your fate is up to the 30 NFL teams. You may get picked up in the first round by a playoff contender, you could slip all the way to the fourth round to a team in the rebuilding process. Once you're drafted, you go through your weekly practice schedule, attempt to get media attention, go to the gym and work out, heck, you can even get your hair cut or get tattoos. It's all up to you. As expected, as your player gets better and progresses through his career, you can move into a larger house and all of that cool jazz. This new edition is a welcomed feature. It breaks up the monotony of just playing exhibition games and going through franchise mode.

Overall, the game play is fluid, and easily accessible to anyone looking for a positive football experience. The new features compliment the already solid gamely extremely well. The passing game was always the issues I had in previous Madden games, and I feel that QB Vision Control and Precision Passing have fixed these problems.

Replayability/Fun Factor 10/10 Come on people, this is Madden, would you expect anything less then a 10? You've got the Superstar mode, Franchise mode, exhibition, unlocking the Madden cards, secret codes, and legendary teams, and Online play if you have the right equipment for your PS2. It'll be a very, very long time before you run out of things to do in Madden 06'

Overall, this is a very well done football game that is deserving to be part of the Madden pedigree. People have complained about some of the tiny stat glitches that occur during the game, such as the sacks counting against your passing yardage, but they don't taint your overall season stats, so it's really not something to be concerned with. This game plays just as well as any of the previous Madden games, and the new features on both offense and defense add even more realism to each game that you play. If you're a football fan, this game is a must have. If you're a casual sports fan or casual gamer, I would still recommend giving this game a rent or two. You will not be disappointed.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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