THQ's NFL Football 2006 reprises last year's 11-on-11 play, and attempts to make these full lineups a little wieldier. The camera has been zoomed way out, and several key features have been adjusted, seemingly to more closely resemble Jamdat's competing product. NFL Football 2006 is a decent game of pigskin, but still, artificial intelligence problems and gameplay slowdown are this year's major gripes.
The bird's-eye camera view lets gamers view about 15 yards on either side of the line of scrimmage. Naturally, players appear to be moving more slowly when they're covering a wider distance. Even still, NFL Football 2006 seems to run at a much slower clip than it should--particularly during kickoffs or punts, when the ball seems to hover endlessly aloft.
It wouldn't be reasonable for THQ to pull back the camera any farther, yet the LG VX7000's narrow aspect ratio precludes decent lateral vision. Often, your receivers are just out of view and are represented by the numerical keys that initiate passes to them. This time around, those numbers will change color to indicate the likelihood of reception, much like in Jamdat's footballer. These change rather quickly from green to red, even if only one defensive back has been assigned coverage.
The DBs attempt to prevent passes by charging impotently against your intended receivers, causing a graphical glitch that makes their limbs flail uncontrollably. As soon as one of your men receives the ball, however, he'll suddenly become vulnerable to this arm flapping, and immediately fumble or fail outright to complete the catch. It's as though the defensive backs were spectres, unable to exert influence over the corporeal realm unless its denizens first defile themselves through unholy union with the reconfigured remains of a flayed pig.
When running, it's much too easy to avoid defenders entirely. We can't count the number of times we scored directly from a kickoff reception. Directional running alone seems to be enough to thwart NFL Football 2006's lackluster AI. Your teammates will occasionally do you proud by blocking your assailants, but you'll mostly just outrun them.
Interestingly enough, NFL Football 2006 features a two-player mode (in addition to its quickplay and season options), which asks you to swap a single handset back and forth. This means that defense is fully automated. In essence, you and a friend are taking turns besting the computer and not really playing against one another at all. No one will be enticed by this half-baked multiplayer.
NFL 2006's best feature is its playbook, which combines Jamdat's elegant play-sorting system with real plays. Novices will find defensive and offensive maneuvers nicely sorted as "pass," "run," or "kick," and more experienced players will be glad to see the names of familiar plays in their repertoires.
The game's audio is average, featuring some introductory music and a smattering of in-game sound effects. Mostly, you'll hear the call for the hike, and then a few seconds later the low moan of a tackled ball carrier. The uniforms are roughly their correct colors, but the graphics are otherwise unremarkable, other than the glitch mentioned above.
NFL Football 2006 makes some good presentational improvements over last year's game, but fails to ameliorate AI and graphical slowdown problems. Players would be better served by Jamdat NFL 2006, which also features full player rosters and stats.
Editor's note 08/31/05: The original review for NFL Football 2006 stated that the game lacks juke moves. In fact, you can juke in this game, and the review text has been adjusted accordingly. GameSpot regrets the error.