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Hooked on Madden

For some it may seem ridiculous to devote a sports column to a video game.

However if you’re one of the millions world wide that have played one of EA Sports titles in the last five years, then you know &uot;it’s in the game&uot;.

A long time fan of the Madden series, I picked up the new Madden 2006 this week and it is more in the game than ever.

If you’re one of those football fans that can’t tell the difference between nickel and dime coverage, then this is not the game for you.

It would behoove you to find a game a little more player friendly, maybe NFL Blitz.

If you’re like me however, and want a game that is as realistic as possible then read on, you’re gonna like this.

The first thing you notice when playing Madden 2006 is the Quarterback Vision feature. Gone are the days of rolling right and throwing left.

In an attempt to make the game more realistic, you must now be looking at your receiver before throwing to him.

As your quarterback becomes more experienced and comfortable with the offense, he begins to see more of the field, therefore making it easier to run your offense, just like in real football.

This new feature also adds some credibility on the defensive side of the ball.

Now your safeties and corners can make a read on quarterbacks and anticipate the pass.

If you are controlling the free safety and notice your opponent focusing in on one receiver, you can drift over to his side and make a play on the ball.

The second new feature you’ll notice when playing is the &uot;truck stick.&uot;

One of the newer additions to the game in past years was the &uot;hit stick,&uot; allowing you, as a defender, to bring the pain.

The &uot;truck stick&uot; is identical, but available only when running the ball.

It should be used sparingly as it slows down your runner tremendously and requires a bit of timing to be used correctly.

Using it sparingly is easier said than done however.

The first time you use it successfully and see your runner lower his shoulder and lay out a middle linebacker, you will find yourself running right at defenders the rest of the game.

The third and possibly most significant addition to the Madden series this year is the Superstar Mode.

This essentially allows you to control a player, not just on the field, but off it as well.

This includes everything from hiring an agent, taking the rookie IQ test, getting your haircut (I’m quite serious, the barber can hook you up with a tight fade), doing interviews, getting tattoos and getting endorsements (that is if you picked a good agent and haven’t embarrassed yourself and your team with a stupid answer during an interview).

With Superstar Mode in Madden and Heisman Mode in EA’s College Football game you can take control of a player at the end of his senior year of high school, take him to college, maybe win a Heisman or national championship, import him into Madden, get drafted, play in the NFL, maybe win a Super Bowl or a few MVPs and retire to become a coach.

Needless to say I am hooked.

I imported my player from Heisman mode and was just drafted by the 49ers in the second round.

I should probably take this opportunity to apologize to my friends for not hanging out with them for the next few weeks.

I hope they understand that David Friedman is just doing what’s best for David Friedman.

See…I’m already sounding like an NFL rookie.

I’d like to hear from you. If you agree or disagree with my opinion on something, have an idea for a column topic or just want to let me know someone is reading this every once in awhile please e-mail me. My address is david.friedman@r-cnews.com. See ya next week!