View Full Version : Wallcrawler In-depth review: Madden 2006 PS2

08-09-2005, 07:20 PM
Out of sheer morbid curiosity, I went out and rented the latest Madden title.

For those gamers out there still on the fence in regard to whether or not to buy it, hopefully this review will give you a little more insight than the basic reviews by IGN and other places.

First of all let me start off by saying that Madden 2006 is a better game than Madden 2005 was.

I couldnt help but laugh though when I saw that they had rated William Bartee at 80, with 79 awareness.

Here is a list of new things that have been added to make the game different from last year's game.

The "Vision and Precision" passing. If you play with Trent Green, behind the offensive line of the KC Chiefs, you will love this new mode. Trent Green can see virtually the entire field, and with a receiver inside his vision cone, you can use Precision Passing to aim where you want to throw the football. Up while throwing directs a high pass for a jump ball, or to throw the ball way out in front of your man on a streak. You can use the left or right aim to throw the pass behind or out in front of your receiver, or you can aim the stick down to throw a low pass to your receiver.

Passes thrown to receivers outside your vision cone are not accurate, nor can you use the precision passing. But if youre using a great QB, it wont matter, and you'll love it.

Unfortunately, if youre using an average QB, behind an average to poor offensive line, youre going to HATE the vision and precision passing. For starters, your cone of vision is going to be very thin, and when you move it, it moves really fast. So it is very possible that while trying to look back across the field to dump the ball to your back, you will accidentally move the cone too far and throw a horrible pass, thus making a relatively simple checkdown pass seem much harder than it really should be. If you have a horrible offensive line, youre going to have to reduce yourself to locking on to your primary receiver pre-snap, and pray that he's good enough to get open against double coverage. You will have time to make maybe one read after your primary read, and then youve got to get rid of the ball.

I like how the QB awareness stat now counts for something besides simulations, but in some cases it really makes it next to impossible to execute many of the passing plays with a lesser QB.

For instance, I tried out the superstar game mode, created a QB, and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the 4th round. Thin vision cone, crappy o-line, it was a complete nightmare trying to complete anything.

You can turn this feature off, but along with it goes the really cool precision passing, which kinda sucks.

Playmaker Controls. It seems that this year, they really tried to incorporate every defensive playmaker control from previous games, into this one. For the most part, it works really well, unless youre playing against a human player who will snap the ball before you can get your pre-snap adjustments done.

Highlighting players and moving the right analog stick will give them specific assignments pre-snap.

During the snap, if you hold the L2 button, press UP on the stick to make your defenders go into all out pass defense if youre thinking pass, or press down on the analog stick to make your defense attack the run.

During the play, the right analog stick then becomes the "Hit Stick" from last year's title and still delivers bone jarring hits that can knock the ball loose from even the most sure handed ball carriers.

Man Lock defensive feature. Now, in this year's edition you can activate the Man Lock scheme in any defensive play that you want. Now this means that no longer can the opposing team use a great wide receiver to burn your zone by lining him up on the opposite side of the field of the guy that you had covering him in Man coverage, but who doesnt follow him in zone coverages.

With Man Lock activated, your defender will stay with his assigned man regardless of whether or not he is playing a zone. When the opposing team goes in motion, and sees your defender following him, any other game, they would know it was man coverage and go for the bomb. This year, they dont know if it is a man lock zone coverage, or pure man to man coverage. It works very nicely and is a great addition to the defense.

Superstar Game Mode. Be prepared to invest a lot of time if youre going to play this feature. From the outset, you can create your player, and then take your interview and IQ test, and proceed to the draft. Sadly, I dont think it is possible to be drafted by the Chiefs, as almost every time Ive been drafted, it was in the third round in which the Chiefs had no pick.

Anyway, so you get drafted, and during the offseason you have days where you can practice in training camp, running plays with your offense against your defense. You pick your play, and the defensive play, and you get in as many reps as you can, and try to rack up as many points as you can per play to improve your stats for your next game. Positive yards yield points, negative plays take points away from you. This is extremely time consuming, but worthwhile if you want to improve your character.

You can alternatively simulate the practices, but more often than not you have terrible showings, and your stats will drop. I havent gotten very far into the Superstar mode, as I got drafted by the Dolphins and playing QB for the Dolphins is a complete and unequivocal nightmare. But, at least I have the option of becoming a malcontent and pissing and moaning about my team and my coaches, so that could turn out to be pretty entertaining down the line.

Hard Count. I really like the fake snap in this year's game. If you play against a really aggressive human player, youre going to get yourself some offside penalties for sure. As you call the fake snap, the screen yanks back for an instant, and displays the passing symbols of your players for about a half second. It really looks as if the play is starting, but you have to concentrate on when the line moves, not when the screen yanks back to avoid jumping early.

New animations and actions. These are kinda subtle, but really add to the game. First of all would be the Auto Strafe that is done by the defensive backs. Now, when the ball is in the air, your db will automatically strafe and square up to get in position to intercept or knock down the pass. It is so much easier to defend a pass when they get themselves into position so much better. Gone are the ridiculous jumps in midair 5 yards away from the receiver that leave you torched for a huge play, when all you wanted to do was swat the ball down.

Next on my list would be the Football Tracking by the actual players. Now, you can actually see the heads turn and look for the football. No longer do you just have your pass swatted down by a linebacker who had his back turned to the play the entire time, but somehow had the presence of mind to swat the ball down at the perfect time. Receivers turn their heads and watch the ball into their hands, and overall it just looks a lot more realistic, and a lot less aggravating when you get a pass knocked down.

Truck Stick. Now this is a great addition to the offense, albeit a bit overpowered like the hit stick is. But at least now the offensive ball carriers are not at the mercy of the super defenders anymore. Now you actually have the ability to break an opposing defenders tackle, not just have your arm ripped off with a stiff arm attempt, or ribcage crushed on a bad spin or juke. There are times when you can flat out call BS on it though, such as Derrick Blaylock truck stick plowing over Sammy Knight and completely laying him out on the play and taking off for an 80 yard touchdown run.

The same could be said for the hit stick as well, with a no-name scrub linebacker hit sticking Priest Holmes and causing him to fumble 3 times in one game when he normally fumbles once or twice in an entire season. But, thats just how the hit sticks are going to work I guess, so you just have to take it in stride.


These are some of the things that really irritate me with this game, and probably the reason that I wont purchase it until the price drops significantly.

The speed of the players seems to me too high. Its like if anyone ever gets by you, its over. You might as well be chasing after Barry Sanders with an old woman who has two broken ankles. Fullback Zack Crockett of the Raiders caught a pass in the flat, broke one tackle, and then proceeded to outrun Derrick Johnson (88 speed), Eric Warfield (88 Speed), and Patrick Surtain (93 speed), over the course of 74 yards on his way to the endzone. None of my guys with full sprint held down could run down this fullback. Thats pure BS.

Furthermore, there is nothing in the A.I. sliders that governs the speed. Simply Awareness, Blocking, and Tackling. Many of the gameplay issues could probably be resolved by constantly tweaking the sliders to get it as realistic as possible, but Im of the mindset that the programmers are supposed to do that before they release the game, not make the player fiddle with it constantly to get it where it needs to be to have realistic football games.

Special teams is another instance. Very rarely do I ever field a punt without 2-3 defenders standing in front of me for about 2 seconds waiting for me to field the ball. Ive never seen faster gunners on special teams in a game before in my life.

Speaking of Special teams, it seems that the folks at EA Sports still havent figured out that in order to block a field goal, its usually a good idea to JUMP. For the second year in a row, NONE of the defenders on the field jump in an attempt to block the field goal. How that ever got into the game is beyond my comprehension. Youre drawing up a play for a field goal block, but you dont make any of the players jump? How does that work? Pure stupidity, plain and simple.

Presentation is still non existant. The same stale, recycled one-liner commentary along with no halftime show or post game show. EA Sports really needs to get the lead out in the presentation department.

In closing, this game in my opinion is MUCH better than last year's edition, and hardcore Madden fans would be safe in purchasing this game. Personally I prefer the presentation and gameplay style of the ESPN game and will probably play that one over the course of this season, but this game is much better than what the reviews on it say that it is.

Ive had a lot of fun using the new defense of the Chiefs. I did what Gun says he's going to do and moved Bell to the outside linebacker spot opposite Derrick Johnson, and put Kawika Mitchell in the middle.

The results have been quite good. Bell moves up in rating from 88-90 after the switch, and he is a complete monster on the outside. If this game is any indication of what he and Johnson can do, its going to be a lot of fun to watch Chiefs defense again.

08-09-2005, 08:14 PM
Great review... I'm going to move Bell to outside and Mitchell in the middle as well, didn't think of that.