It's inevitable that Madden would make an appearance on the PSP at some point, considering that the game has appeared on just about every platform since the 90's. Even though Australians (or even Europeans) aren't huge fans of American football the games still make it over to our shores on a yearly basis and even though there was a little delay, Madden has arrived on the PSP. Despite a few minor niggles though, Madden NFL 06 is one the best handheld football games ever and is sure to please fans of the series.
Just about everything that made it into the console versions has been crammed into the PSP version, and we're pleased that not many sacrifices had to be made for the game to make the transition to the handheld. All of the offensive and defensive moves are in tact, as well as all of the game modes that were in the console version. There is also a much wider range of training camp drills that were in the console versions, and they are just as fun this time around as well.
Some concessions have had to be made with the controls because the PSP lacks a second analog control. The hit stick playmaker move has been removed, as has the passing cone. The vision cone was actually a bit annoying anyway; so this can be seen as more of a blessing rather than a noticable omission. If it had been included it probably wouldn't have worked properly with the PSP controls either. Precision passing, (which allows the quarterback to throw the ball in a more specific place) is in the game, and there are plenty of opportunities to practice this move in training, however the PSP's analog stick is a little too sensitive, which means it does take a little while to get used to precision passing.
The game also has the ability to link up with the Playstation 2 version of Madden. This means it is actually possible to start a franchise game on the PSP, upload it to the EA locker and then download it to your Playstation 2 and vice-versa. There is no limit to the amount of times you can do this and it really is brilliant because you can play the game whilst you're at home, but still continue playing whilst on the road. This is an example of connectivity that is actually useful, and we hope this is only the beginning for PSP-PS2 connectivity.
There is one major problem that plagues the game though, and that is the loading. It's fair to expect that the game will have a little bit of loading, but even the initial boot up screen takes a hefty amount of time to fully load. The franchise mode is hit hardest by the long loading, and everytime you try to do anything there will be a slight pause. This is disappointing, and really does affect the pick up and playability of the game, simply because you need to be ready to wait to play this game.
Visually the game is impressive, and even though there are a lot of player's on field at once, it is never really difficult to keep up with what is happening. The players are a little less detailed than their console counterparts, but the frame-rate stays very steady for most of the time; except when the game pauses to bring up the play calling screen.
The sound is exactly as you expect it to be, there are plenty of sound effects on field and the commentary from John Madden and Al Michaels is relatively insignificant. There are plenty of music tracks in the game, but they are relatively boring and EA seem to be including the same kind of music in all of their games lately. The players make grunting noises whilst they are on the field as well.
The game also includes support for wi-fi multiplayer. This is an appreciated inclusion, but it is very unlikely that many other people will have a copy of the game, so the multiplayer may be a little under utilised. It would have been good if EA supported the game share feature with this game so you could send a demo of the game to your friends, but unfortunately this is not the case.
The game itself should last a significantly lengthy amount of time. The mini games are extremely addictive, and the franchise mode is lengthy enough, as it contains all the options from the console versions. The loading may annoy some people after awhile though. The wi-fi support is appreciated, but finding someone with another copy of the game could possibly be a challenge in itself. It is apparant that EA have tried to squeeze as much into this port as possible; and for the most part they have succeeded.
Madden's PSP debut is relatively successful however, there are a few problems such as the excessive loading and extremely sensitive analog stick. We appreciate that it doesn't appear Madden has been heavily downgraded for the PSP port though, and being able to connect to the Playstation 2 and transfer your franchise over is a great addition that will hopefully set a precedent for PSP-PS2 connectivity. This is the greatest handheld American football game available and fans of the game are likely to be very impressed with the game. The only problem is that next year's inevitable incarnation is likely to fix the few issues that this game has.
XBOX: Madden NFL 2006