Madden NFL 2006 Review XBox 360
John Madden series of games have always been close to my heart. From the early days when Madden first appeared on the Mega Drive, I was hooked. But when the series took a leap to the next generation PSOne then PS2 I always felt these games have been a bit of a let down. Unfortunately Madden appears to have fallen short on the next-gen XBox 360. Yes the graphics are very good; everything from the players to the stadiums to the motion capture looks spot on. You would expect Madden NFL 2006 to be at least as good as old generation versions of the game but with better graphics, right? No. To start with there is nothing new here, and secondly there are even elements of the old gameplay that haven't made it through to the next generation.
I could go on about the graphics and tell you how amazing this game looks, which it does, but instead I would rather point out the bad points of Madden NFL 2006 first. Anyone used to playing the Madden series of games will find this XBox 360 version has a lot of elements of gameplay that have been stripped down or completely omitted from the evolved successful formula. To start with the defensive playmaker system and controls just don't exist. You can't change how your individual defensive players will play.
On the offence you will encounter problems too as you can't make formation shifts. Audibles and hot routes are still available. The quarter back vision cone is here but you may not notice it to start with as it is switched off by default. It will rear its ugly head even when switched off at times. If you decide to change one of your primary receivers before the snap you will notice the quarterback vision cone will appear from nowhere. The computer opponent will always use the quarterback vision cone making it pretty easy to see where the quarterback is looking.
A controversial omission is the ability to challenge plays. Rather than watching replays and waiting for a decision, everything now becomes a fumble whatever the situation. The controversial tuck-rule is out of the window, so there is no need to check weather it was a fumble or an incomplete pass. In my opinion this is better for the game as the action isn't broken up by replays here and there. From a purist point of view it probably should be here.
There is a whole host of other stuff missing from Madden on the 360 such as the mini camp mode, practice mode, create a player and no superstar mode. If you are used to using the mini camp mode you will obviously be disappointed and the game could feel a little empty as a result. Basically what you have here is the core of the game with none of the extra, or as some may say crucial, bits you have been used to before.
However, there is a new addition to Madden on 360 which was quite pleasing, the play calling screen. The play calling screen now has a multitude of categories. If you want you can ask Madden for advice and he will tell you which play to opt for. Then there are sections broken down by formation, play type and key player. This can be used to great effect, if you want a certain receiver to get the ball it's now really quick and simple.
As you can probably gather by now the developers haven't spent a huge amount of time on the gameplay, they have spent a long time making Madden look very good. The players and stadiums are brilliant; when you get up close to a player you can see a lot of detail, especially in the faces. Even the helmet shine is as if they have been cleaned in a bowling ball polisher. You will find some players, especially those which you are familiar with, don't look quite right. I have noticed the same thing with FIFA on the 360, everything looks to have a high gloss but this makes skin look very plastic. With Madden it's a different case, you can just see which players they have spent the most time modelling. They have obviously run out of time as some major players are lacking. That said, they still look great even if they don't look exactly the same as their real life counterparts. Unlike FIFA, the crowds look really good and the coaches in some cases look better than the players. To get the best results and see all of the detail you do need to run on HDTV, if you don't all the detail will blur and you loose all the crispness as you would expect, but overall it still looks pretty good on normal TV's.
Although this is Madden NFL 2006, John seems to have gone missing from the commentary booth. You will hear John in the game but nothing like as much you would expect or like. Instead, John has been substituted for the EA Sports Radio announcer whose name we don't know. To be fair he has a very excitable voice and does a pretty good job. It would be nice to hear Madden co-host, but it's not to be. The sound effects and the sound track are mostly the same as those in other versions of this game.
Madden NFL 2006 on the XBox 360 is a good game the core gameplay is as good as always. Under its skin a hell of a lot of features haven't been included and as a result this is a kind of Madden Lite, almost a step backwards. I'm sure all the missing parts of Madden NFL 2006 will be back in 2007 along with a whole host of other new stuff. For now though this is as good as the NFL gets on the XBox 360, it's certainly not a must own title, that's for sure. If you own this title on XBox or PS2 there is definitely no need to buy. If you don't already own it, consider buying on the old generation console, unless you can't stand the temptation of those great graphics.
7.0 out of 10
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