Madden NFL 2005 - Review
This year marks the 15th anniversary since the first Madden NFL title was released on Apple II way back in 1989. With almost 37 million sales since then it is clear that this is one of the most important franchises in the game industry. Indeed, so big and powerful is this series that Sony and Microsoft have dropped NFL games from their development, leaving only Sega to release a competitor in their ESPN NFL 2K5 title this year. Last years title, however, was outsold by Madden NFL 2004 at a ratio of 10 to 1 in America. With Sega's title still not confirmed for a release in Australia this may be NFL fans' only option.
|Go Greenbay! Go Greenbay!|
Anyone who has followed this franchise over the years will know that EA's Madden NFL is second to none in terms of AI, and this is one area which Electronic Arts have put even more effort into this year. Much of the AI has been reworked and every player reacts a lot more realistically to the action onscreen. It's a lot harder now to make a long pass to a player running along the sidelines as the opposition will do almost anything to intercept, or at least stop the offensive players getting to the ball.
Perhaps the biggest change to Madden NFL 2005 over last years version is the defensive play. You are now in complete control on defense and have the ability to modify pre-snap assignments, including double teams and player-specific match ups, for any defensive player on the field. One of the new defensive elements is the all new Hit Stick. Essentially you can now use the right analogue stick to make a huge hit, potentially increasing the chance of a fumble, and thereby forcing a turnover. The first few times you try the Hit Stick it may seem pointless, almost as if it doesn't work, but it all comes down to precise timing of the movement. Of course if you get the timing wrong then it may cost your team even more then if you had laid normal tackle on the opposition.
|Sidestep the tackle.|
One new feature of this title is the ability to create your own fans (see picture below). In this mode you will be able to dress your fans and paint their faces. During crucial points in the match, such as when you score a touchdown and conversion, you will see a clip of your fans celebrating, or abusing you! Also improved dramatically is the Franchise Mode with players now reacting to their progress during the season. It may be wise to trade away unhappy players, while your best players should be promoted to captain and so on.
The biggest disappointment with Madden NFL 2005 in PAL territories is the lack of online gameplay. Sure the market is small here, but seeing as EA use peer-to-peer directly between two PS2's there's no need for servers to be set up. Why it was omitted (especially as the US game is into the 3rd year of online gameplay) is beyond comprehension and really puts the overall value down a few marks. If Electronic Arts can get a game like Burnout 3 running with 6-players online they can surely get a 2-player American Football game running as well. One possible reason is the need in America to enter your credit card details to verify who you are so you can't keep quitting games when you lose (it is free to play though). Perhaps next year then. Fortunately the game supports up to 8-players with two multi-taps which is extremely entertaining - as long as enough people understand the rules which is pretty had to accomplish here in Australia.
|The new create-a-fans.|
Graphically Madden NFL is still EA Sports' flagship title. The players are as detailed as every before and the animation simply superb. Players move realistically and once again the range of moves, including touchdown celebrations seems to be improved, certainly over Madden NFL 2003 which is the last title we reviewed here at Future Gamez. The weather and lighting also change during the game which is a nice touch of realism. The frame rate is a rock steady 50fps.
|In the Franchise mode.|
One problem for Electronic Arts is that Sega's ESPN NFL titles have much better presentation, especially as they use the same graphics and style as the TV coverage of the sport. Electronic Arts is a little less stylish, which was fine until Sega's titles come along. At this stage though it doesn't look like Sega's ESPN titles will be making it to Australia in the near future. Another small issue is that although the players are stunningly modeled and animated, the cheerleaders, and even the create-a-fans need more realism and look quite low quality taking you back out of the realism the rest of the title exudes.
Sound is also quality. With support for Dolby Pro Logic II the crowds come alive while the music is typical fast paced rock. What does disappoint is the commentary which is almost identical to previous years. Al Michael and John Madden don't sound terribly exciting and indeed, it's almost time for a change. Occasionally, and this is very occasionally, some of the comments are off track, giving hope to teams when there is none. It's not bad, but EA really need to look at improving, or would that be re-vamping, this for future titles.
|Time to feel the pain!|
Overall Madden NFL 2005 is another great game in EA's premier sports series which is only let down by a lack of online gameplay here in Australia. Why? Who knows. The changes to the defense play make that aspect of the game much more enjoyable and the hit stick is a terrific inclusion. If you own past Madden games on PS2 you may want to give this a miss and wait for online gameplay next year (hopefully), but if you've haven't grabbed a Madden NFL title for PS2 yet you won't be disappointed with this game.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||It looks great, but the competition (Sega's ESPN) is catching up fast.||90%|
|SOUND||Not as exciting as past years, Madden is going through the motions.||87%|
|GAMEPLAY||As good as ever with much more enjoyment for defense players.||96%|
|VALUE||Once again no online gameplay - why?! Franchise will last months.||86%|
|OVERALL||Madden NFL 2005 is simply the best NFL game on the market. This game is so good it's no wonder the opposition dropped development of their games. The real disappointment is lack of online gameplay. Still, this is as perfect as NFL has ever been as a video game.||90%|