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Metareview: Madden 06

David Touve

The latest installment of the Madden NFL franchise, Madden 06, has been on the street for a little while now, so we figured it was time to pull together some reviews for those still wondering what to think about this game. You might say "Why wait so long?" Well... most reviews hit the streets after the reviewers only have moments to smash around the game space, while in truth, it can take some time to dig into some games and really figure out what they are all about. What we did find was that some scores didn't seem to line up with the critical nature of the reviews, and that people's expectations for being blown away somewhat clouded an ability to just review the game as it is.

Average score of reviews considered : 8.5
After consideration of the replay, adjustment for butt-kissing nature of reviews in general, then re-adjusting for the expectations reviewers clearly placed upon this title...

Metascore : 8.3
With a Reviewer Vision cone extending from 7.8-8.8, so you might want to rent first and see how it goes. Excitement over this game seems to be sensitive to your skill level and expectations. Reviews of the '05 version of Madden averaged as high as 91-ish, so its wise to put the '06 reviews in that context.

By and large, the feedback on Madden 06 has ranged from good, to pretty damn good, to great. A noticeable amount of the variation seems to depend upon the platform, with the greatest disparity arriving when you cross from console to portable or PC. Such a response shouldn%uFFFDt really be a surpise given the length of time the Madden series has been around and the features of the game. It should, however, give Tiburon/EA reason to find features that fit with the smaller screens.

These reviews probably shouldn%uFFFDt be considered in the same context as those covering a new, or even relatively new franchise. This makes it hard to review the game in a market of titles hell-bent on sucking your eyeballs out of your head. To expect to gasp upon seeing Madden 06 is to be setup for a sack. The question is, has Tiburon/EA tweaked the game in ways that make the experience something worth the effort? The answer with Madden 06 appears to be, for the most part, %uFFFDYes.%uFFFD With some caveats for those who might just be content with their copy of %uFFFD05.

The feature that seems to be gathering the most attention is %uFFFDQB vision.%uFFFD Destined to frustrate newbies who already struggle a bit with the complexity of the controls in Madden, while adding an appropriate level of challenge for diehard players, QB Vision broadcasts a cone on the field, matching the focus of the QB%uFFFDs attention, for the defense to see, while adding a slightly higher threshold on the QB%uFFFDs ability to focus on a receiver proir to a pass.

Anyone who has played sports knows how much awareness of the vision of the opponent is part of the game, so this was a tweak worth adding. Mind you, IGN found this feature frustrating, while GameSpot and GameSpy thought it was appropriately challenging. What is probably apparently not lacking is simply the ability to disable this vision, making the game a bit easier to manage for those just picking Madden up for the first time. If this choice exists, please let us know in your comments, %uFFFDcause obviously we missed it.

The QB also gains the ability to %uFFFDlead%uFFFD receivers on a pass, a feature that mimics real life in ways that don%uFFFDt require you to have a surgeon%uFFFDs feel with controllers to understand. Backs get the %uFFFDTruck Stick%uFFFD to match the %uFFFDHit Stick%uFFFD of the defense. Franchise mode adds some perks from pre-game preparation. %uFFFDSmart Routes%uFFFD let you make minor tweaks to plays to match the context (like 7 yards to a first down on a 5 yard pattern).

The other feature that has drawn some attention, admittedly slightly mixed, is the Superstar Mode. You might consider this mode a sort of %uFFFDSims meets Madden%uFFFD type of implementation. In this mode you breed players from scratch - scratch meaning being able to go as far back as selecting parents- then work with your player over time in hopes of developing the best, both physically and professionally (or the worst, most flamboyant, whatever if that is your goal).

While the major pieces appear to be in place within Superstar mode for a serious sim, the little hitches in this mode hold people back from going completely gung ho on the matter. This is one of those additional features the presence of which make your jaw drop a bit, you have fun with it, but the experience of which leaves you slightly underwhelmed. You should enjoy it, while recognizing what we mean.

IGN 8.8
Oddly, IGN gave the more critical review while passing along one of the higher scores. Waddup.

%uFFFDThat said, it was only a matter of time before the streak had to end. Madden NFL 06 could very well be remembered as the game that didn%uFFFDt improve enough over its counterpart %uFFFD and for the first time in years, became a little less fun to play.%uFFFD

GameSpot 8.2
Overall, these folks seemed pretty keen on the game, but were taken back by their expectations.

%uFFFDUltimately, Madden NFL 06 is a highly playable game of football, but in comparison with the leaps forward the franchise has made in previous years, 06 feels like a false start.%uFFFD

GameSpy 4.5 stars
The Spy, living withing the fold of IGN, also offered a high score. Again, expectations vs reality driving the review a bit.

While there%uFFFDs no denying that Madden NFL 06 is better than the previous versions, this year%uFFFDs big additions don%uFFFDt quite live up to the expectations placed upon them.

GamesRadar 8/10

Lowest score, most glowing review. Its time for a universal scale on game reviews.

For an exhaustive NFL package with stats, glitz and awesome gameplay it%uFFFDs difficult to top this.

At a certain point in time, many of the tweaks to each version of the game feel more iterative than innovative. Inevitably, %uFFFDreality%uFFFD becomes an asymptotic line towards which each tweak of the game might take us that little bit closer. However we might trash talk the EA powerhouse simply for being a powerhouse, the truth of the matter is that the changes to the Madden line are making the game more realistic, but simply no longer in leaps and bounds.

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