Review by PM5KDemon

Reviewed: 08/12/05

A Potentially Brilliant Game Is Made Merely OK By Poor Execution

In order of how important I think each category is:

Gameplay 9/10 with the passing cone off, 4/10 with it on
I want to like the cone. Really, I do. But all it does is make an already complicated enough system unnecessarily difficult - apparently it adds an element of realism; well last time I checked NFL QB's didn't have the equivalent of a torch on top of their helmet so everyone in the stadium can see where they're looking. It's just a pointless addition; it's meant to make passing more difficult, which it does. but it does it the wrong way. It adds difficulty by pretty much ensuring you can't throw a pass at all where you want - you can be focused on the receiver you want, no pass rush in sight and stood as still a mountain, and still throw the ball behind the receiver. Turn all this off however, and you have a wonderfully intuitively made game that reacts exactly how you intend it to at all times. The running game isn't the chore it felt like in 05 any more, and has returned to its 03/04 level of enjoyment and control. The new offensive audibles that have been added make a major improvement, especially the ability to set a receiver's route to the first down marker and shift the protection along the offensive line. On defense, finally you don't need the equivalent of Yao Ming linebackers to play zone coverages, cornerback blitzes have just the right exchange between risk and reward and the linemen actually make a level of difference now. My main problem though on defense is supposing you want to take a safety out of zone to double up on a receiver - all that used to be necessary was 3 button presses - now, I haven't a clue. I can't find a single way to do it. Worse still, supposing you pick a play that automatically doubles up a WR with a safety - well, unless that WR is right out on the sideline, that safety will go into an almost pseudo zone coverage. He'll stand in place, and should a ball get thrown his way, he *might* step in front of it - of course, if you could double him up manually, there'd be no problem. See my point? Oh, and you still won't get a single bit of blocking on punt returns. Why oh why did EA make it so it's a fair catch or a fumble on every punt return chance you get?

Graphics 4/10
Houston Texans fans, look away now. God forbid you try and play a franchise as them, because that means half of your games will have more slowdown than Sonic 2 on the Mega Drive in 2 player mode did. It's not just in certain stadiums either, it seems to happen in all of them, especially when you're getting rushed with 5 receivers downfield - quite possibly the worst time you could have some debilitating slowdown. Overall, when the game doesn't feel like it's being hand drawn by some monkeys, it looks quite nice - but don't expect leaps and bounds from 05, because there aren't any. What there is however, is more unnecessary things that add nothing to the game - on 3rd down, you'll go to a little cutscene to see the linemen get set, and on dives into the endzone, the camera will change to see the guy up close. Wow.

Sound 6/10
Firstly, why isn't the rap/rock soundtrack split evenly? Secondly, why does the rock part of it have bands that flat out suck? Believe me, I had to endure Funeral for a Friend for 8 songs last year at an Iron Maiden gig, and that is an hour of my life wasted that I will never get back. Someone threw a shoe at them while they were on stage, so that should give you an idea of how bad they were then - so I can't for one second imagine they've improved that much since... oh wait! They haven't!

The commentary has had so few new lines added to it, I genuinely can't pick any out. I mean this commentary (I could be wrong) is just 2005's again. Why? I know John Madden's not exactly the most youthful of people any more, but I'm sure he could have been persuaded to go to the studio to add to the game with his name on it?

Summary
This game could have been good - really good. Superstar mode would have been a great idea, if they hadn't overdone the amount you need to do the Gameplan and Practice modes. The actual pass cone idea would have been good if it was done well. The game would play a whole lot better if it didn't suffer from slowdown so much. If you've never played Madden before, save yourself some money and get 05 or even 04. If you've got 05 already, wait until this costs a lot less. I want to like this game a lot more than I do, I really do - but there are way too many problems.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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