Madden NFL 2006 (XBOX 360)
Sean W. Gibson / Apr 9th, 2006 No Comments
The most popular sports franchise in gaming makes its debut on the new platform, the XBox 360 in this new edition of Madden 2006 for XBox 360. One of the real big draws for gamers to the XBox 360 was the new version of Madden whose screenshots practically helped sell all the hype behind the new platform. With a brand new football engine and a built-from-the-ground-up gaming experience, Madden 2006 is a new title that gamers were definitely drawn to upon its release.
The list of features as supplied by the manufacturer:
* New Player Models – 3D head scans provide photo-realistic faces and physiques and a level of detail that shows the emotion and intensity of the NFL like never before.
* Next Gen Graphical Effects – From the reactions of coaches and players on the sidelines to the seat-level accuracy of thousands of lifelike 3D fans, the new graphics engine provides realistic lighting and visual effects that have never been possible before now.
* Three Times the Animations – The action starts before kickoff and continues with every touchdown celebration thanks to thousands of new animations.
* Redefined Gameplay – Select plays in a whole new way with the innovative playcalling and new picture-in-picture system. Popular features like QB Vision Control and the Hit Stick are also included to make Madden NFL Football veterans feel right at home.
* Advanced Franchise Mode – The game mode invented by Madden NFL Football comes to the Xbox 360 with new, easy-to-use Player, Team, and Box Score Cards that give you all the information you need to take your team to the top.
* Online Play – Find the perfect opponent instantly anytime of the day with Xbox Live™ and see where you stack up against the best players in the nation with the real-time leaderboard.
Indeed the big draw for Madden 2006 on XBox 360 is the new graphics and the amazing amount of detail given to all the players and the animations. There's never been a football game that's looked sexier, nor any sports game that's been on a console that's been played in High Definition. This is truly the most intensive graphical experience a sports game on a console has been given – but that said, it's not pulled off too well. The gameplay will chug and the camera angles for the game don't capitalize at all on the widescreen 1080i aspect ration of new HDTVs. So, the graphics of Madden 2006 is a mixed bag – you definitely appreciate all that's in the game, but at the same time, the new interfaces and presentation were put together in a poor way.
Okay, the name of the game IS Madden right? Well, Madden isn't in the game. The commentary by Al Michaels and John Madden ended up not making the cut for this edition of the title, with a weird and distant-sounding "radio announcer" calling the plays and the action on the field. Overall the announcer gives a really weird vibe to the game, as if you were listening to a competent radio announcer calling the game on a radio in the other room of your house. The sound effects aren't anything too exciting, and the normally amazing soundtrack to the game has failed to capitalize on the 5.1 surround sound ability of the console. The on-field sound effects are about what you'd expect from any football game, and nothing completely exciting that make it revolutionary.
We always like to present both sides of the "good and bad" of a game and let the reader decide for themselves whether a title is for them or not. With Madden 2006 this objective is nearly impossible. This is easily the worst football game released in the last 4 years, and sends you straight back to Madden 2001. The controls seem non-responsive, the game feels disconnected completely from the user, and the overall feel of the game seems ridiculously shallow. The PSP version, released last year to rave reviews here at GI, has more features than this XBox 360 version! That's absolutely insane and the biggest proof that this title was completely unprepared for release.
Getting through a season in this version of the game is so difficult because games just seem to drag and seem so identical play-to-play that the action is dull. There's no glitz, no glamour, no spark to the game that usually has brought cult-like love to this franchise. Getting back to the lack of features, the PSP version featured many new (and very popular) mini-camp drills and modes to play in. This edition has … get this … ZERO. Gone. Nada. Totally inexplicable … with this hardware we expected to see more, not less, or much less. Getting back to the gameplay however, the interaction between user and team seems less relevant, the plays much more mundane, the defensive AI for the running game less improved, but for the pass protection somewhat improved. In the end, you'll end up going back to your PS2/XBox edition of the game.
ONLINE / MULTIPLAYER
There is a robust online environment that EA has properly set up, including the nice match-making services on XBox live in order to find an opponent and give all the stats an online gaming junkie could want. Beyond the multiplayer aspect, the gameplay is so bad it's doubtful you'll want to stick around for an entire season, much less an entire franchise campaign. You'll play it, get frustrated, get bored, and stick it on the shelf.
As a huge fan of Madden, and EA Sports games in particular, I don't think I could properly convey my true sense of disappointment with this title without showing a picture of my face when I try to play this game. The gameplay is pretty bad, the features of the game have inexplicably vanished, and the only good new thing about the title is the improved graphics – which really aren't all that groundbreaking when compared to other 360 titles. This game only comes recommended for a rent if you're curious about it, but wait for the 2007 edition of Madden (wait for the reviews too) if you're serious about football gaming and stick to your PSP/PS2/XBox editions.