Video Game Review

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Platform: PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, PSP, PC
  • ESRB: Everyone
  • Players: 1-2
  • Online: Yes
  • Genre: Sports
  • Developer: Tiburon
  • Publisher: EA Sports
  • Suggested Retail: $49.99
  • Graphics: B
  • Sound: B
  • Gameplay: B+
  • Replay: B+
  • Fun Factor: B
  • Reviewer's Wild Card: B+


Gaming's giant football franchise

By Patrick Sauriol     September 02, 2005

© EA Sports

When EA signed their exclusive deal with the NFL last year it caused a lot of controversy in the video game world. Immediately there were critical voices of the five-year deal which saw EA's MADDEN game franchise as the one and only place where gridiron gamers could play with authentic NFL players, teams and inside the league's arenas. While the company certainly had the cash to command such clout from the league, some of the critics thought that it may cause EA to switch off innovative development with the game franchise and just coast on the name itself to sell copies.

With the release of NFL MADDEN 2006, EA has proven that it's still willing to deliver a complete football experience to consumers as well as try and mix things up with new approaches to America's Monday night obsession. However, whether you will like the new changes remains up to each individual gamer and their preference for complexity or keeping things simple.

The biggest addition to MADDEN 06 is the introduction of Quarterback (QB) Vision, allowing the player to throw the football to a selected receiver. The

The quarterback vision cone allows you to select where to throw the ball.

idea itself is great, but the downside is something of an extended learning curve which may throw off the more casual gamer. Once I got the hang of it, selecting where my ball would be going after the snap became easier and my number of successful throws started climbing up. But you can't get too comfortable and keep your QB vision cone fixed on the player you'll be throwing to all the time. If you start doing that the game's AI will pick up on where your QB's eyes are fixated on the field and rotate their guys to sack your player before you've taken five steps back. Along with the precision passing feature, QB vision is a smart feature and one that adds an extra level of realism to the franchise, but thankfully it can also be switched off before newbies like me start to lose their patience ascending the game's learning curve.

The other new feature is a game mode called Superstar which allows you to cultivate your own football star from his draft right on through the season. While it's fine to deepen the gaming experience, the Superstar angle didn't really grab me as much as just running with your own favorite team throughout the season. Maybe it's because I already see enough of the celebrity athlete on TV already; after all, who wants to play a game being a bling-bling player without actually getting to play with their real bling in real life?

True to form the game's graphics are more than adequate, considering that the next version of MADDEN will likely be for the PlayStation 3 and thus show us players' sweat and Gatorade-fueled spit in far greater resolution than I would like. EA has stuffed the game with a mixed alternative rock soundtrack that, after awhile, can start to grate on your sensibilities. Still, the bottom line is that MADDEN 06 is still the premiere football simulation for your living room. Whether you're a casual gamer or hardcore sports enthusiast, the new version of MADDEN won't let you down.


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