Review by radiohead rocks
With no competitors, EA still proves they won't give up.
When it was announced that EA had purchased the NFL's publishing rights, deeming the ESPN series to be no more, football fanatics believed it to be the end of virtual football improvement. Surely, with no competitors, the upcoming Madden 2006 would be no more than a roster update.
When EA released information about some of the new features that would appear in Madden 2006, we were still very much aware that they could be cheap gimmicks to increase sales. Reluctantly, I purchased a copy on August 9th, waiting to see what was in store. Needless to say, as you can tell by the score, I was blown away. Rather than having one long rant, I'll divide my comments into several sections.
Although this generation of systems (XBox, PS2, and Gamecube) can only improve so much as far as graphics go, it is actually a drastic change from Madden 2005 to Madden 2006. It's tough to explain, but the entire presentation was more realistic than before, and not giving it at least a 9 wouldn't seem right. If there was one complaint I could have, the field graphics still aren't anything that glamorous but as far as everything else goes (player detail, player animation, etc), it's amazing.
The controls do change slightly, because of the new passing system (which I'll explain about later) and it's not very friendly. I, along with many others, can't stand the white and black buttons on the XBox controller. It takes some getting used to (as your RBs are usually designated with one of the two as they go out for a pass) but eventually you'll get more familiar with it. As far as the rest, controls are smooth as usual. It's not like EA can do anything about Microsoft's decision when it came to the XBox controller.
Nothing to complain about here. Custom soundtracks are much more suited for me than EA's default soundtrack, and therefore, I use just that. I actually find Madden less irritating (as far as repetitive commentary goes) in this year's Madden than last. The EA Sports Radio with Tony Bruno has many new segments this year, although after a while, it gets old. Nothing you can do about it though. And, as usual, the sound effects are still as good as they've ever been.
The main extra of Madden 2006 is of course Superstar mode, where you can track a player from the minute he declares for the NFL draft to that final moment where he retires with every other NFL record under his belt. It's an extremely detailed mode, much better than that of this year's NCAA's (Race for the Heisman), and it can supply you with many more hours of gameplay. The new Total Control Simulation system was also another one of my favorite extras. You're able to call every play and see how your team executes it. It's basically the same as Coach Mode, except you aren't actually watching the game, you're reading the play-by-play messages. And at any moment, you can interrupt the game and play it if you're not comfortable with the score or are just itching to get in there.
I saved several of the new features for the gameplay description rather than extras. First off, the new vision passing adds such a new level of difficulty and skill to the game that you can't believe they successfully created it. It's difficult at first and takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, you can become the next Peyton Manning. Second, the new truck stick allows you to deliver a huge hit to the opposing defense, similar to the hit stick that defenses can use. Just flick the right control stick up as you make contact with the defender and you can bulldoze over him (obviously it doesn't work all the time, but is still effective, especially when you're 1-on-1). Finally, the running game has vastly improved and although you can find patterns that the computer won't ever recognize, you can really no longer call the same play getting the same result. You must actually recognize your blocks rather than running east and west until the defense gets tired or forcing your way through the line.
Overall, this has been my favorite Madden thus far, and it's in no way a roster update that so many thought it would be. I obviously recommend that you at least rent it if you're a fan of football, and would strongly advise you to spend the $50 and purchase the game.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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