Review by ImmortalDragon

Reviewed: 08/11/05 | Updated: 08/15/05

Madden knows what he is doing this year.

-Madden NFL 2005 was the first Madden game that I fully played for an entire year. It was decent, but I could understand why some might want ESPN 2k5 instead of Madden 2005 last year. I pre-ordered the game the day before it was released with no expectations of the new year of football. When I got home that day I read some new reviews of the game. I was stunned at how they were bashing 06 and how it barely as improved. I was beginning to regret pre-ordering the game. The day after Madden was released I went and picked up my copy. My friend and I played that day and it was spectacular. The reviews were completely wrong about 06. Madden NFL 06 has greatly improved on 2005, I could see it within the few hours we played the game. They’ve added many new features and fixed many flaws that plagued. The Madden series has proven to me, with Madden NFL 06, that they do truly deserve the exclusive NFL license.

Graphics: 8.5/10
-There are many tiny upgrades in this department from last year. Menu styles have changed, the players have the same basic look. You can see an upgrade from 2005, but it is not anything significant. The stadiums are much smoother looking this year and it is a vast upgrade from 2005. There is still much room for Madden to upgrade here.

Music: 9/10
-The only positive factor that the reviews I read were about the NFL films music added to the game. For that only it deserves a perfect score. The music has been remixed but it is essentially the same and they are recognizable. The songs are so refreshing to hear compared to the other songs on the track. Compared to Madden 2005, the 06 soundtrack sounds like heaven, even the non-NFL Film songs. There are still some songs that seem out of place, but the NFL Films songs rescues it all.

Sound: 6/10
-This is arguably the weakest department in Madden. The extra sound they added to the hit stick and truck stick are horrible. It is annoying to here them every time I use the sticks. The tackling sound effects have not significantly changed but they were not bad to begin with. Commentary is the same old material in essence. Commentary has to be hard for them to improve on because you will here everything eventually. More than likely they do not have enough room to stuff over a million lines into the game. An option to play music during the game would be very convenient.

Game Play: 9.5/10
-They have added and fixed so many things that went wrong with 05. The first issue to make note of is that WRs can now jump and CBs do not jump as high as they did last year. It is much more evened out and realistic.

-The precision passing is perhaps the most talked about new addition to the game. For most of the people I know, it has dampened their passing abilities although making it more realistic. From my time with the game, I believe my passing has improved with the precision passing. One problem with it is to switch to other receivers during a play. It is very tedious and can cause much trouble when you begin to rush it. They also changed the way you lead a receiver. Unlike last year where the QB would throw it farther, short, or far to the sides, this time you throw it towards the receiver but more specifically and closer to him. I probably have botched the explanation of this but it is described in the game and in the manual.

-The truck stick was the first feature I heard about 06 a long time ago. This was the feature I was most excited for and it has not disappointed me. It is basically the hit stick for the offense causing the person with the ball to be able to blow a hit to the defender and push him out of the way. This does increase the risk of fumbles but it is a fun feature to play with.

-Smart routes are a great addition to the game. With this feature you can hot route a receiver to make his route go far enough to achieve the first down or closer so you can avoid the blitz. This feature would have done me a lot of good in 05. This basically makes all the receivers smart enough to at least attempt the first down instead of just running their route to be a yard or two short.

-Offensive line protection was something deeply need last year. In 05, the tackles would let the defensive ends just run by them. It was unstoppable to stop pass rushers properly. They have fixed the AI of the tackles so that they do not just let the ends run by. That makes this feature somewhat less needed but is still useful. You are able to have the offensive line spread out to stop the outside rush, pinch in to help stop an inside rush or shift left or right (after the snap) to help your back or avoid a sack.

-Superstar mode is a pretty fun mode. I do not want to go too much into it as I will drag on about it but you will enjoy it. You get to pick a match of parents (although they are random you may have to stay awhile to get a match you would like). From this you are born and 20-24 years later you’re in April about to be drafted. You have interviews, an IQ test, your mentor is Terrell Davis, you get a web page, and so on and so forth. You are also able to upload a player from NFL Street 2 or NCAA 2006.

-They have added many minor defensive adjustments. Now to double cover a receiver you must control the defender you want and then adjust him to cover the receiver. You are able to do this with linebackers as well this year. They brought back the defensive playmaker from 2004 where you could tell the defense if the offense is running or passing at the beginning of the play.

-Overall the game play has exceptionally improved and is the one aspect Madden should be proud of this year.

Fun factor/Replay Value: 9.5/10
-It is damn fun. If it is fun you play it more and there is your replay value. The only reason I did not give it a 10 is that it can become repetitive if you play too much in a short amount of time. But I guess that saves you from getting addicted too severely to the game.

Run Down

Graphics: 8.5/10
Music: 9/10
Sound: 6/10
Game Play: 9.5/10
Fun Factor/Replay Value: 9.5/10

Buy or Rent?:
-If you are a fan of Madden, this is not even a question. You should already have the game. If you are an ESPN fanboy, I ask of you to rent the game and give it a try with an open mind (rhyme not intended). If you are new to the genre, rent it as well to see if you like it.

Final Note/Bottom Line:
-If you did not like Madden 2005 because of its flaws, you will love Madden 06. I cannot believe they upgraded it so well. I guess I am overly surprised because of the bad reviews I read beforehand but nonetheless, football rules.

Final Score: 9/10

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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