|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, X, PC, GC, PSP, DS, GBA||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Tiburon||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: EA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug 2006||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1 - 2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|Review by Patrick||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
By Patrick Evans
Handhelds have traditionally had a terrible time bringing the football experience to the tiny screen in the past. Last years Madden on PSP fought the good fight, but excruciating load times and jittery gameplay tripped it up at the line. EA Tiburon looks like its handled much of the technical faults of last years outing, providing a solid travel companion to the PS2 version while falling short of providing a unique experience of its own.
With Shaun Alexander on the cover, this years Madden is focusing on revamping the running back position. By using the Triangle button in combination with the directional pad or analog nub, players can pull off jukes and moves that werent available in previous outings. What moves can be performed effectively depends on the individual running back, so a smaller back like Tiki Barber would want to try using the left and right jukes instead of barreling through a defender, while a banger like St. Louis Steven Jackson would instead find success if he just went at them with his shoulders down. Along with that, gamers can now control a lead blocker as he leads his runner into the gaps. Tiburon has ensured that the running game can be any players focus instead of solely relying on the deep ball.
And for the most part, this new running system is successful in achieving its goal. Players that wish to pound the ball on a defense can do so more successfully in years before with the added control options. Bowling over a DB to take it to the house is simple now, while the added controls for the blockers are a big help. To stop the run, just like in real life, teams will start to put more defenders close to the line of scrimmage. This sets up the passing game, just like in real life, and makes the entire experience feel more authentic. I didnt notice the unique running back styles that are present on the console versions, but the fact that they got the most important improvement of this years console release on the handheld is enough to sell me on it.
This years PSP outing is more technically sound than last years as well. Loading times, for the most part, have been slashed. Going through menus to scout players for a trade or to look up an injury report arent the chores they once were. The time before a game has also been halved or better. The only time issue that Madden on PSP sees is when simming any aspect of the season. Free agent signings at the end of a Franchise year can take 15 minutes even if you arent signing anyone, and even longer if you decide to scout the free agency pool. Rookie drafts didnt feel as long, but simming through all the computers games in a season is just as tedious as free-agency. Again, its not perfect, but its a drastic improvement from the year before.
In trying to provide a unique experience on the handheld Madden falls a little short. The mini-games and mini-camp activities are defiantly worth noting, but they are nothing that could convince a player to get the PSP version without its big brother on PS2. Franchise mode feels like the PS2s and Xboxs a couple years ago before they added owner options. Boosting your players attributes is the only real progression that is made on PSP. By completing specific goals each week, the franchise earns points that can be used strengthen the attributes of any player in any category. Instead of relying on stat-based progressions from years prior, the Assistant Coach mode gives you ultimate control over your team.
Madden on PSP this year is a much better experience than last year, but EA Tiburon has yet to provide a reason to pick it up beyond the PS2 connectivity that allows gamers to take their PS2 seasons with them on the road. For football fans constantly on the go such as me, this is a no-brainer. But for those who can play at home on their big screen at will, EA is going to have to provide more content to sell us on buying two copies of essentially the same game.
CCC Staff Writer