Review by BrianJamesBlue

Reviewed: 08/31/05

A football game/sim that plays like anything BUT a game/sim

This may sound low, but finally there is something to compare madden too, and all the fanboys should take note of the fact that a football came can, believe it or not, PLAY LIKE A REAL FOOTBALL GAME (note ESPN 2k5). Madden 06 however does not play look or feel like real football.

Graphics: 7/10

The jerseys are pretty good on some teams. You get a nice shine off them, while some other teams just look... well crappy. The colts home jersey for example looks wonderful and realistic, while the jaguars away jersey just looks like light does not affect it whatsoever. The pants are all low res, and surprisingly this is very noticeable, especially on replays. Helmets all look great, and arms look alright though not too realistic. My main gripe here is with the faces - none of the players have well done faces. Some are deformed. If you were hoping to recognize your favorite players, you will be very disappointed. The game may have even put some oddly shaded dents in their face that just look nasty. That is my main gripe with the graphics, though my other is the occassional slowdown you get during gameplay (MUCH more frequent when watching a demo where the camera angles change). This just does not feel like you are watching a football game. Stadium graphics are awesome of course, with all the details nicely done and accurate. That just leaves the animations... There are new animations this year, though not many. Most of them are nice and smooth, but there are few that will just surprise you and once again horribly detract from the game. For whatever reason, there are two running animations. Play against the eagles and you will see... There is the normal realistic animation that we are used to, and then there is this weird one that some players use (like Kearse) where they wave their hands in little circles then flail them out to the sides. It looks like a girl running through flowers and just makes you stop and say "huh." The other running animation like I said looks realistic... accept from the back (which is where you always happen to be seeing it). Players that do not have the ball look like they kick themselves in the butt while running.

Sound: 9/10

Sound is awesome, especially with the commentators turned off. All the sounds are realistic and not too repetetive, you even get different QB voices depending on who your quarterback is. The commentators have improved again this year, but still are very repetetive and can only state the obvious (while frequently getting the obvious wrong). I highly recommend turning it off, because this is just another thing that detracts from the gaming experience.

Music: 8/10

I am giving it its own category just because I can. Several songs are very nice, there is rock and rap balanced well enough in this game, as well as the music you hear playing during pregame shows and commercials. You will recoginize it when you hear it and it is a nice touch. There are a few big names on the music list, but I wish there were more.

Gameplay: 4/10

It really frustrates me to have to call this gameplay. Madden is 100% based around stats. That means that each time you line up you have a set of options that will result in successful plays and a set that will result in unsuccessful plays. This does not feel like a game at all. Because of this you can pull what I call "madden plays" - plays that will work every time for a set amount of yards no matter what. Like using the full house formation with the bucs and passing out to M. A. - he never gets covered, and there will always be one DB between him and a huge chunk of yards that he can easily run over. This running over is now possible with the addition of the truck stick, but this is just the charge feature that has been present in OTHER football sims for awhile now. Madden fans likely do not know this because madden over hypes what little they have to offer each year. The truck stick is just another completely stats based option, and one that makes you fumble too much. You may have read this is the "year of the quarterback." Well it is, but not the way you think. Passing is not fun or realistic anymore. You have two additions, the vision cone and precision passing. The vision cone is a little yellow cone that starts at your quarterback and covers a part of the field (based on your QBs awareness, oh love stats). You must place this cone over a reciever before you pass it to him or suffer a huge accuracy loss. The cone does not work well at all... you can move it with the right joystick or by holding R2 and pushing the reciever you want the cone to follow. Unfortunately R2 is also pump fake, and while you are accidentally pump faking (which will happen frequently) you do anything but watch as defenders rush you. I have not seen a pump fake do anything productive yet. Now I said the vision cone does not work well at all, and I don't just mean using it. There are some throws that can be made for some reason completely accurately - like passes down the line of scrimmage. These are always accurate regardless of where the cone is. Yet if your reciever moves a little foward, the ball just goes randomly off to the middle of nowhere. The other addition to passing was in answer to ESPNs total control passing (or whatever it was called). In the ESPN version, you would move your left joystick just after you threw the ball to pick where on the field you want to throw the ball to relative to your reciever. It would make sense for madden to do it the same way because it worked very well, but they apparantly did not want it to work well. Left and right still throw to the left and right of your reciever, but foward throws it higher and down throws it lower. So you cannot bring your reciever backwards after his route, and if you push up he will likely jump for it instead of running up (and you get to watch the ball fly over his head). Now these would not be much of a problem on older versions of madden, cuz you could just not use them (you can turn the cone off and just ignore precision passing), but on this madden, DBs have a better chance of catching the ball than your players do on allpro and up. You will see crappy DBs pull some psychic and amazing plays to get the ball from your team. They will use the superhuman abilities of lacking momentum and warping to snatch the ball out of the air in ways that randy moss and t.o. only dream of. Once again you would think you could work around this... there are playmaker controls in the game that allow you to navigate the closest player to you where you need to to get him open. Unfortunately, playmaker rarely targets the player closest to you. It is like a game of chance - will playmaker pick the guy 10 yards directly in front of me, or the guy 30 yards downfield to my left? Of course while using playmaker, you are a sitting duck because you cannot sprint. Frequently you will see the ball go just where you don't want it to go, and not where you TOLD it to go using all the new features. The running game is quite nicely done however. Players have pretty accurate speed agility and break tackle ratings. If you want to play run only, you may be able to have a pretty good time... until you use the truck stick and your player fumbles.

Online: 1/10

I had to rate online for this game because it is a disgusting world all its own. A problem you do not see arise on the offline game becomes glaringly apparant online. The people that made madden are in love with the eagles. Their overall rating may not be the best, but when you play against them you will see. Eagles DBs play very close to wide recievers, ALWAYS running into them in what would be called pass interference in a real football game. Pass plays are broken up by this. All the eagles players quickly develop superhuman speed when chasing your players. Because of how the game handles player collisions (if neither player has the ball, slide them quickly to the side of each other - the same as warping accept you see them quickly slide without some kind of side stepping animation) blitzs let EVERYONE through. In real football of course you see the lineman get big and just hold as many people off as they can as long as they can. On this game your lineman will follow one guy and slide around. Because all the eagles players have speed in this game that they do not actually possess, your quarterback will instantly be sacked every time the opponent blitzes all their LBs (which is conveniently the play that is called just by mashing the X button). On offense the eagles continue to show amazing and unrealistic stats. Westbrook has the ability to shed off multiple tacklers without slowing down, and is rated faster than he is. This means that online you can just run him up the middle every time and get 5-10 yards very consistantly. Call it a "madden play." Otherwise, you can call any pass play and scramble with McNabb (also rated faster than he is) and throw with no penalty to accuracy. Because of this he is actually a better QB to use than Manning on the game, even though Manning is rated higher and obviously better in real football. Almost everyone online insists on using the Eagles as well, so don't even bother playing. When people don't use the eagles, they just rifle through their list of madden plays and blitz constantly hoping to get the same effect as the eagles.

All over all, I feel like madden takes the player out of the game, as well as the fun. I feel like they made a souped up stats book, and if you have played ESPN you will definitely feel the same way. This is a downgrade from ESPN in every single way, and just not worth buying. Everybody I know in real life that has picked up the game has been very disappointed with it, and all the people I see that enjoy it online are the simple madden fanboys that refuse to play anything else anyways. I am warning you that football games do not have to be boring, unrealistic, and repetetive. This game is however, and I sadly expect we will get more of the same for the next few years, with no other options.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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