Madden NFL 06 - Review
As the end of the current console generation nears it's not unexpected to see development teams pushing the hardware to its absolute limits. Just as night follows day, Madden NFL 06 follows Madden NFL 2005. This is a interesting title for one very big reason. Several months ago Electronic Arts snapped up the rights to make NFL branded games with official teams, player names and so on. As a result Visual Concepts' NFL2K series is no more and Midway's NFL Blitz has also lost its license. If you want NFL this is your only choice - fortunately it's a good one.
|An easy reception.|
Not content with simply rehashing the title with new rosters Electronic Arts are trying a couple of new things in this game, the NFL Superstar Mode and Quarterback Vision. Madden NFL 06 is their latest game and if you're an NFL fan then this is one game you'll want to check out, especially if you've been away from the series for some time.
The first of the new features is the NFL Superstar Mode. This mode is almost RPG in style in that you start with a rookie and follow his progress through not only the season and normal matches but will also have to enlist the assistance of an agent before entering the NFL draft. As in real life its unlikely you'll be a number one pick, or even close, and you'll soon need to hit training before you have some serious stats on your player. Not only will you be looking after you on-field life, but also off the field where you have the opportunity to pick up endorsements, star in commercials. This mode is actually quite enjoyable and while its still somewhat limited in what is available, future titles will almost certainly expand on these first impressive steps.
|Oh, and in-game screen.|
The second major new inclusion in Madden NFL 06, and the one which has the biggest impact on gameplay, is the Quarterback Vision. The Quarterback, as in real life has field of view which they will concentrate on to pass the ball. Passing within this vision area increases the chances of a successful pass then to a player within your peripheral vision which is more likely to result in a poor pass. In single player mode this addition is quite welcome and works very well however when you play with more then one person it hits a snag, you see it allows players on opposing teams to see where you intend to pass the ball.
|Stadiums really look impressive.|
As many of you remember last year Electronic Arts introduced the Hit Stick where defensive players could perform big moves to stop offensive plays. This year the offenders get their turn with the right analogue stick being used to get a short burst to the line by ducking under tackles or bumping defenders out of the way. It was a good addition to level the playing field in this area so to speak.
In terms of game modes Madden NFL 06 has it all with the usual array of Quick Matches and Championships. Seasoned gamers will more likely head for the Franchise mode which sees a return from last season, and remains pretty much the same. That's not a bad thing at all with last year's Franchise being among the best on the market. I guess the developers spent their time working on the Superstar Mode.
Yet again the biggest disappointment with the Madden titles in PAL territories is (for the fourth year running) the removal of online gameplay. Surely even a 2-player online mode wouldn't be too hard to allow via a peer-to-peer setup. I don't know why EA continue to do this. It's not good publicity for the company, and while the number of online gamers may be small, it still hurts. There's not many other major issues with the game. The Franchise mode could have been expanded, but we're happy to delay that to play the Superstar Mode.
|Note the Quarterback vision.|
In terms of graphics Madden NFL 06 looks nigh on identical to last years game which, given the quality of last years game isn't a bad thing at all. There seems to have been some minor changes, possibly improved lighting and details here and there, and once again players are all superbly animated and wonderfully detailed in both the in-game viewpoints and action replays. The overall presentation is also, once again, exceptional with clean menus, great replays and easy to read playbooks. As with all EA titles there is still no 60Hz mode however the company does optimise the 50Hz mode and does a great job of it too.
As with previous games the audio in this title is extremely high quality. With Dolby Pro Logic II Support and THX certification there was little doubt it would sound magnificent, and yet again Electronic Arts have delivered in spades. Last year we mentioned that the commentary was a little dull and off the mark at times. John Madden still sounds dull (is he really this bad on TV in America as well?) but fortunately Al Michaels sounds quite a bit better. In fact, the commentary in Madden NFL 06 seems much more relevant and accurate to the on-screen action.
|Pass to Williams or Rogers.|
This is yet another touchdown for Electronic Arts and their biggest sports franchise. Sadly PAL gamers are once again missing out on online gameplay - and it's really starting to hurt knowing that American gamers have been playing Madden games online for several years now. The Quarterback Vision is an interesting addition that doesn't quite live up to the hype, but is a worthy addition to the series in any event. Probably a game to pick up if you haven't bought Madden over the last couple of years.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||Pretty much faultless, although not much has changed from last year.||90%|
|SOUND||Great music, speech and effects results in some very solid audio.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||It's Madden! This is one of the greatest sports game of all time.||95%|
|VALUE||No online modes disappoint again, Franchise and Superstar are great.||79%|
|OVERALL||Madden NFL 06 is yet another very solid addition to the franchise. The new additions are welcome, while the lack of online gameplay in PAL territories sucks. Still this is the best, and now only NFL title on the market and its well worth a purchase.||87%|