|Madden 06 (2005)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Available for: Xbox 360, Xbox, PlayStation 2, GameCube
When EA announced that they had secured the exclusive NFL rights for their latest “Madden” release, the gamer community responded in an uproar. And while it’s mostly true that when it comes to sports games, EA is king, it still doesn’t sit well knowing that the gaming giant was looking to take out its competition…for good. Gamers like the reassurance of having a wide variety to pick from, but now that EA is the only NFL-licensed developer this year (and through 2010), consumers are stuck with two choices: “Madden 06” or last year’s rosters. And while the “Madden” franchise has continued to introduce innovative gameplay with each successive release, the new additions to “06” only make it worse.
Everything you would expect in a “Madden” release you’ll find here in the latest version, including updated rosters and schedules for the 2005-06 season, as well as the brilliant modifications made last year to the defensive side of things, including my favorite tool: the hit stick. In fact, the one nice addition to “06” is the truck stick, which allows your RB the chance to lower his shoulder and take a shot at running right over the other man. “Madden 06” goes all mad scientist on the offensive side this time around, but save for the truck stick, the results aren’t pretty.
The main addition to the gameplay is a new option called QB Vision Control, which along with being utterly distracting, serves little purpose to any “Madden” player, novice to expert. The QB Vision Control graphically represents your QB's accuracy rating with a sort of flashlight view of the field, and in order to throw to the intended receiver, you have to literally whip the flashlight all the way across the field before making the throw. Some QBs, like Tom Brady, have a flashlight size that is nearly the width of the field, while someone like Michael Vick’s is the width of a real flashlight. In turn, this results in your QB getting sacked 200% more than in the previous edition. An annoying change indeed, but one that can be disabled within the menu options.
The next major change to “06” is a new NFL Superstar mode where you go through the game as a recently drafted college player to landing, hopefully, a spot in the Hall of Fame. I found little excitement on my way to becoming an NFL Superstar, and I’d be silly to think that anyone else will either. Unless you love wasting away your precious hours answering countless phone calls from Terrell Owens and reading numerous emails from, you guessed it, Terrell Owens, then you’ll find little meaning in this “extra game mode.” Couple these two horrible additions with the serious lag time in loading, the removal of being able to pull up your play on the line, and no real improvement in the graphics department, and you have the worst “Madden” release ever. A pure coincidence that this dreadfully bad “Madden” arrives in stores the same year EA signs an exclusive rights contract with the NFL? I think not, but in the end, it’s still “Madden,” and sometimes that’s good enough.