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Critical Reception: Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL 06

This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, focuses on the latest inst...
This week's Critical Reception, a regular column that looks at how the gaming press has received a particularly notable recently released game, focuses on the latest installment of the perennial, now NFL license-exclusive Electronic Arts franchise, Madden NFL 06, developed by EA Tiburon. This latest franchise iteration scores an average rating of 89.22% with reviewers for the Xbox SKU, and similarly high marks (within 2% of the Xbox score) for the PlayStation 2, PC, and GameCube SKUs, according to review aggregation site GameTab. Thus, the title’s reception is on par with last year’s well-received release - Madden 2005 scored an average rating of 90.15% for the Xbox, according to GameTab, with the other SKUs also hovering around that mark. As the sole game featuring NFL teams and players, Madden strives to be all things to all NFL fans and gaming enthusiasts. But some effort has certainly been made to change up the franchise - in his 90% equivalent review of the title, 1UP’s Wellington Moreaux cites the additions of the vision cone, “used to represent the field of vision of the quarterback looking to pass,” and the NFL Superstar mode, which enables “you to take a player just before the draft to and through an NFL career until retirement”, as decent upgrades that only add to the football fun of the series. Reviewing the title for Gamespot, where he gave it the lowest score of the major review sites at an 83% equivalent, Alex Navarro notes the focus of this year’s iteration is on improving the offensive game, which he says “isn’t nearly as impressive as it seems like it ought to have been. In fact, Madden 06 comes off as a somewhat unfocused and unpolished piece of work.” He sees the scope of the game growing in leaps and bounds, “for while the scope of things you have to do to get a ball into a receiver’s hand this year has gotten more methodical in nature, the speed of the game has not.” Gamespot’s Navarro also claims to find several bugs and glitches which, according to him, “are pretty minor things, like draw plays where—every single time—your quarterback’s vision will be focused straight ahead, as opposed to focusing in the direction of a particular receiver.” Additionally, AI glitches, “where running backs will get stuck behind offensive linemen, linemen will get stuck trying to block defenders, and so on,” reside in the code, and Navarro found Madden NFL 06 to be “sloppier than in recent years.” In contrasting style, evaluating the title for Gamespy, where he awarded it a 90% equivalent score, Will Tuttle found the title to be “a smooth, lag-free experience” even when playing online, where he “didn’t notice any drops or problems (except for the fact that some people were complaining about the QB Vision system).” Tuttle feels this year’s release “is better than the previous versions,” not particularly citing glitches as a problem, but commented that “this year’s big additions don’t quite live up to the expectations placed upon them.” While reviewers agree that the game isn’t quite perfect, the latest Madden is sure to be a massive retail and significant critical hit with football fans, thanks to the new additions and incrementally honed gameplay. And those who don’t care for the EA’s latest offering will have to wait for the release of Midway’s rougher, more tongue-in-cheek Blitz: The League if they crave a new fix of digital football.

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