March Madness 2006 falls under a long list of EA Sports "basketball titles" that have "dropped the ball". While the Madden franchise and the younger brother title NCAA football continue to develop new ways for fans to become engulfed in the gameplay, NBA Live as well as March Madness seem to think that touching up on previous mistakes makes for a decent release title. Honestly, they couldn't be more wrong and MM 06 shows how little developers think about their basketball fans.
Simple mistakes that should have been caught in the production and testing stages such as stepping out of bounds, fan reaction, and player development seem to have been to much a challenge for testers to stop and question. Why is it that running certain defenses makes the computer run offensive sets that are either to easy to stop or impossible to stop, but always predictable. 9 times out of 10, you can tell exactly what play the computer is about to run and regardless of your reaction, the AI isn't adaptable enough to realize you know where the next pass is going and to change their strategy. I guess EA decided to balance it out by letting certain plays be nearly impossible to stop. For example, when the computer runs the baseline screen play, even if the play recieves the ball 5 feet away from the 3-point line, he still has a 95% chance of making the shot.
Then there's the addition of the senior leader. This has got to be the most frustrating feature of all. The player labeled as the team's "emotional leader" spends more time waving his arms and slapping the court in critical situations that actually playing offense/defense. I feel like slamming my controller down when I get a steal and the player who should be leading the fastbreak is to busy half-assing his way down court because he's playing up the crowd and not worried about scoring. Seeing this display makes me call a quick T.O. and let my senior leader lead from the bench.
Next, while the addition of cheerleaders and the mascots for most teams is nice, why not have coaches visible on the sidelines. Where's that post game celebration when an underdog knocks off a top seed? Where's the excitement of the coaching cheering from the sideline or pacing in disgust during a blowout. Everything on the sideline is dull. No player movement on the bench and the crowd simply stands and sits and occasionally does a cheer.
I'm really hoping that one day EA will let their developers sit down and give as much effort, thought, and attention to their basketball titles like they do their precious Madden and NCAA college football. Give the real gamers who love an in-depth basketball experience something with true replay value. Gives us a reason to create a player, develop him into a college stud, and move him to the next level where he can be drafted and become a superstar. If EA doesn't have the devoted staff willing to sit down and breathe some new life into their basketball titles, call on me. I know I can't be the only one near the edge of giving up, but before I do I hope my ideas and opinions can be heard and put to good use.