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Madden NFL 06 PlayStation 2

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date: Out Now
Price: £29.99

Madden NFL 06, an introduction.

For many years now the EA Sports series has been a phenomenal success. The range covers an impressive amount of sports and always manages to sell very well indeed. Without a doubt though, the jewel in the EA Sports crown is the Madden series. For years now the Madden NFL games have managed to fight off stiff competition from other NFL games and for the most part the series has managed to stay at the top. This year it's all very different as Madden NFL 06 is the only NFL title you can buy. Without the NFL licence other games just won't be the same but what about the Madden series? Recent years have seen slight alterations made to the game in order to improve the formula but even though it's now the only NFL game you can buy it's obvious in Madden NFL 06 that the game is still trying to be improved upon.

What's the game about?

The main focus of Madden NFL 06 has been to improve the passing side of the game. The game features both a QB precision placement system and a QB vision control system. A new Truck Stick control has been added to break tackles. New camera angles have been added too. Probably the star inclusion in Madden NFL 06 is the new Superstar mode that allows you to create your own player and then turn him into an NFL superstar. Naturally the game has fully updated rosters etc. for this season and everything that was great about last year's game makes a return.

What's good about the game?

My favourite new feature has to be the NFL Superstar mode. You'll begin with creating your own player or importing your character from NFL Street 2. If you choose to create your own player you'll have to choose your DNA before you do anything else. You're given a random set of parents whose characteristics determine what your preferred position will be. If you're not happy with the random parent selection you can have another random selection time and time again until you're happy. When you've chosen a name, weight and height for your player you'll be taken to your apartment. Your first course of action will be talking to your mentor, attending an interview, signing an agent (if you want to) and then being picked in the drafts. Playing games is not your only concern in the NFL Superstar mode and you'll have to keep an eye on your image. Each agent has ratings for their negotiation, influence and interview skills and they perform accordingly so you'll have to keep an on whether your agent is actually doing your image more harm than good. The NFL Superstar mode aside, the other modes in the game are old favourites. Franchise, Tournament, Mini Games and Practice mode all make a return and are as enjoyable as ever.

The new offensive and defensive controls are certainly worthwhile additions. The Truck Stick controls gives you further options when on the offensive and when coupled with the more advanced smart routes and formation specific audibles, it makes for a better overall experience. The new passing features I'm not so sure about. QB Vision attempts to give you a more realistic line of sight for the quarterback whilst QB Precision Passing allows you to fine tune the accuracy of your passes. With QB Vision you can still pass to those receivers who are not in your line of sight but the accuracy of these passes is greatly reduced. These are nice features in theory but in practice it's another matter entirely and after several failed attempts to get accustomed to the QB Vision I disabled it and returned to the tried and tested method of passing.

What's not so good about the game?

Top of the disappointment list has to be the lack of an online mode. Like last year the PlayStation 2 won't have an online mode here in Europe. Whilst this omission is disappointing it is somewhat understandable due to the general lack of interest in online PlayStation 2 games here in Europe. Personally I didn't hit it off with the new QB Vision and QB Precision features and I found myself disabling the feature in the game options simply because it over complicates things and breaks up the natural flow of the game. As much as I liked the NFL Superstar mode it's not as engaging as it could have been with erroneous messages and feedback that sometimes doesn't make sense. Longstanding fans of the series are probably still going to prefer the Franchise mode over the NFL Superstar mode.

How does it look?

The Madden NFL series has been taken as far as possible on the PlayStation 2 and it's no surprise that Madden NFL 06 isn't that much different from last year's game in terms of how it looks. The extra camera angles are a nice bonus, although you'll probably still use the tried and tested ones. The presentation of the game has been honed pretty much to perfection and the interface looks and feels probably about as good as it can on a console.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

As per usual with a sports game there are omissions, the game commentary for example, for deaf gamers but nothing that really spoils the game to any great length. That said, it's a shame the tutorials, that cover the new features, are not subtitled. In the NFL Superstar mode you'll receive a variety of e-mails from your agent and mentor and some of these messages are voice mails. These voice mails are not subtitled so in effect they're useless for deaf gamers. Whilst this is an inconvenience, it doesn't exclude deaf gamers from anything important.

Final thoughts.

Madden NFL 06 is a solid follow on from Madden NFL 2005. The new Superstar mode is a great inclusion and the new camera angles are welcome too but I'm not fully convinced about the other new features in the game. The developers obviously realised that the new QB Vision features might not be to everyone's taste and wisely allow you to disable them, if you want to of course, in the options menu. Once again we have another great Madden game although this year it seems like a hollow statement saying it's the best NFL game on the market because it's the only NFL game on the market.

 

Overall Game Rating: 8.8/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:


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Another year another Madden NFL game and once again it's a great game. Not all of the new additions really work that well but on the whole it will delight fans of the series.