In every great legacy, there's a setback. Even the strongest among us falters here or there, and it's because of these missteps that we are able to grow and learn.
For Napoleon, it was Waterloo. For Nintendo, it was the Virtual Boy. For Kesha, it was pursuing a career in music. And for Tiburon, it was Madden NFL 06.
It was supposed to be a good idea. A gameplay mechanism that allowed more control and precision over your quarterback's throws. It sounded to the layman like a massive step forward from football game to football simulation.
After all, 2005's hit stick was an exciting way to finally deliver those bone-crunching tackles you'd always wanted to on puny guys like Az-Zahir Hakim. The rear cover boasted that this was the 'year of the quarterback'. It omitted the word 'shitty' between 'quarterback' and 'the', because we were handcuffed to the infamous cone of shame.
Known at the time as 'QB vision', it meant that every time you threw a pass, a ray of light shot out from your quarterback, indicating their range of visibility, or their fondness for Scott Summers. Throws made outside of this light area were horribly off-target, and suddenly this made a QB's awareness stat of utmost importance. If you were Peyton Manning, you could see almost everywhere. If you were Kyle Boller, you were Stevie Wonder.
To test it out for the first time in ages, I took on the woeful 2-14 49ers, and the results were not pretty. Steve McNair completed 15 of 33 passes for 222 yards, 2 TDs (one a miracle completion to Drew Bennett, the other an inexplicably successful 4-yard goalline grab by Troy Fleming, where the 230-pounder miraculously juked a defender) to 3 interceptions (iPhone wanted me to say interventions), and 2 sacks. On the other side, rookie Alex Smith fared even worse: 9 of 20, 136 yards, 1 interception and 7 sacks. Those are the kind of stats I'd expect if I were playing football.
In case you were wondering, yes Erron Kinney was fantastic. I'm beginning to think that he was actually the lead programmer with EA at the time, or had slept around a fair bit in order to put himself in such high regard. End game: a 13-31 win that I'm not proud of. Also, the only good game that Andre Woolfolk ever played. Historic.
As you can gather, the QB vision element was more of a hindrance than a benefit, simply too cumbersome for a game of it's pace. You could turn it off if you wanted, but then that defeated the purpose of even getting the game. If you were updating your Madden, you wanted more of a payoff than Pacman freakin' Jones.
On that note, this Madden is a bit sour grapes to me anyhow, because it came after a Titans 5-11 campaign, making them one of the worst teams in the game. So I'm playing the worst Madden game with one of the worst Titan teams... why, exactly?
Another gripe I have is that punt returning is simply impossible, because your AI won't block for you. Instead, they'll face your direction, watching with eager anticipation to see what happens next. And, inevitably, that results in your return man getting absolutely killed. In my case, that returner is aforementioned Pacman, which makes it okay.
AI issues aren't new to Madden, but because the overall package is usually so good, it's otherwise overlooked. In 06, however, it's hard to get into the game when your QB passes as well as Garo Yepremian.