'Arena Football' for the PlayStation2

Staying loyal to the AFL rules and regulations, EA Sports' Arena Football aims to keep sports junkies hooked on the juice during the off-season. However, unlike real-world NFL, Madden NFL 06 has no off-season, thus the need for another game is eliminated.

Necessary or not, Arena Football garners a lot of rave for its slamming sidewall and hyper-speed plays, but these features just dilute the feverish intensity of how a football game should play.

If your player gets anywhere near the Great Walls, he slams onto the ground or flies over the rails and crinkles like a tin can. Like driving a bumper car, except every time you hit something, your car dies. Warp-speed plays and passes keep you on your toes but make the action so fast that you never enjoy the precious moments playing as the Austin Wranglers or one of their rivals, let alone perform a play that is strategically satisfying or longer than five seconds. Overprotective walls and speedy play ejaculations turn what should be an exalting experience into a one-night stand.

The visuals in Arena Football are noteworthy, but they sparingly make up for the design itself. For the intro, you are panoramically viewing a huge arena with fireworks, light shows, and crowd noise piped in from a Rage Against the Machine concert. When the whistle blows, all the noises that make a football game audible (crowd-roaring, grunts and moans, trash-talking) go mute. The few voices that remain are insipidly scripted – especially the trash-talking: third-grade humor at best.

Dream team options grant you personal selection of your teammates, a notable advantage over the real AFL. But does this make it game-worthy? Imagine a vaguely appealing idea at the goal line when you're on the 10-yard line, then slamming into one of AFL's padded walls.

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