Review: No longer as easy as Paris Hilton.
Players no longer simply play football. They can ask to be traded, undergo morale changes, voice their concerns in the paper ? it's just so realistic. For example, if your star quarterback goes down with an injury, the team's morale will suffer and they will play worse. If you lose a rivalry game (such as Washington vs. Dallas), then the morale will really take a hit. There's a virtual radio show with player developments, rumors, interviews and caller sessions. You get memos on your PDA, you can read about your team in the local and national papers. This is just a glimpse of the franchise mode.
The Franchise mode in Madden NFL '06 is even more in-depth this year, as you get more in-depth reports about your opponents every week. Not only do you get a breakdown of their offensive and defensive schemes; you can also prepare special plays ahead of time. By practicing specific plays in practice, there is a chance that you will be more likely to succeed in the actual game. The radio show with Tony Bruno has more things for you to keep things fresh. Yet another new addition is the spawn feature, which allows you to play regular season games at a later date, but I haven't looked into this too much.
But Electronic Arts surprised everyone with yet another new mode, NFL Superstar. This new mode allows you to live the life on a NFL player. You start off by creating a new player, and the process begins. You'll have to choose your parents, where stuff like their profession will affect your success as an athlete (former athlete for a dad is never bad). From there, Terrell Davis will be your mentor, and you'll pick an agent, take IQ tests, and do everything you can to improve your draft position. After being picked in the early 3rd round, the real action began. From here on out you practice with your team, play in games, try to obtain movie roles and spots in commercials, hire new agents, work-out in a gym to improve your stats, try to lead your team to a Super Bowl, buy bigger houses and live the life of an NFL player. You can even go to the barbershop for a new cut or get some new tattoos at the parlor. On paper, this mode seems great. But the more you play, the more you realize that it's fairly shallow. I'm sure that over time EA will expand NFL Superstar mode to be as deep as Franchise mode, where you can host parties, buy cars, but until then, you don't really feel like a true NFL Superstar. It's a valiant effort, but no cigar.
All of this, and I haven't even mentioned that Madden NFL '06 is Xbox Live enabled, allowing you to face off against pigskin fans from around the world. There's a ton of options here as well, ranging from various leagues and tournaments that you can participate in, to simple matches. Free roster updates are available for download, which is always cool. There are also some anti-cheating measures, such as a system where you can leave negative feedback for those that quit games to discourage others from playing against them. I haven't ventured online much thus far because I'm trying to master this QB Vision that you apparently can't turn off online, so I'll wait a bit before I destroy everyone online.
Graphically, Madden NFL '06 appears to look better than its predecessor does. The changes are mild, but player models are even more detailed. In should be noted, however, that ESPN NFL 2K5 is probably the best-looking football game to this day. But since Madden is all we get, I certainly won't fuss because it still looks good. Next year there should be a monumental change in graphics, as the game will be released for the Xbox 360, but the current years' installment is probably taking it as close to the maximum as possible. The animations are extremely realistic, although there aren't any new ones this year as far as I can tell. The stadiums are almost exact replicas, with beautiful grass, a realistic crowd (especially if you use the create-a-fan feature) and all that jazz.
The audio is better than it was last year in my opinion. The sound effects remained unchanged, because you leave what sounds good. You can't really tell the difference if you close your eyes and listen to the game and then listen to a real game in terms of sound effects. The commentary was the weak point last season, as in consisted of poorly connected phrases that lacked humor. The same can't be said this year, and there is more continuity in the dialogue, although John Madden is not at the top of his game. At times his commentary will be so specific and full of intricate football lingo that casual players will wonder what he's talking about. The Madden series is known for offering an amazing soundtrack year in and year out, and I enjoyed the track this year. You've got a nice mix of rock and rap artists, along with some re-mixes of classic NFL Films tracks from ESPN. There's a nice mix of underground and mainstream tracks. Rock fans can enjoy Foo Fighters, All American Rejects, Godsmack and others; while rap fans can hear Memphis Bleek, Spider Loc (the new G-Unit member), Papoose, Stat Quo and Slim Thug.