Madden has made it big time. The release of this years game marks fifteen years since its first iteration made it into homes everywhere across the world. To celebrate the milestone, EA Sports is releasing a Collector’s Edition of Madden 2005. Of course to get such a special edition, you must pay $10 more. Does this landmark sports title give you the bang for your buck? Or will you be left wishing you never came to the Anniversary party?
The first thing you do when Madden loads up is choose your favorite team. The menu looks better this year as it is not only pictures of your favorite teams players, but some short video clips mixed in with a background that is the same as the color scheme as your favorite team. The menus look better IMO and are categorized pretty much the same. The in game presentation has been somewhat overhauled as well. The play menus have been made darker and sleeker,and the way the plays are shown has been changed for the better IMO. Different colors are used for Safeties playing zone/blitz and CBs/DBs playing zone/blitz which makes it easier to tell who is who. The scoreboard looks similar to ESPN’s baseball scoreboard and the Stat Graphics that pop up on the bottom are similar (or almost exactly) like Monday Night Football. Replays have been giving a nice touch with a old reel film effect when they are shown. The multiple screen replays have made a return this year. The cutscenes are nice,some showing distraught or happy players on the sidelines, some showing a group of 4 fans (one which can be created by you) in the stands either booing or celebrating. The documentaries are very good and entertaining. Even though I was sad to see the “Madden Curse” Mockumentary that was slated for the game conspicuously absent in the final product. Maybe I just missed it. Overall they are really good:Score: 9./10
Players have been given a beefed up look to them and they no longer all look like they have the same build, unlike previous Maddens. 400 lbs. linemen look like 400 lbs. linemen. QBs look like QBs and so on. Pretty good upgrade from last year. The fields look better than last year as well as the stadiums themselves. The 4 3D fans look great but the others are still the mainly 2D sprites. This does really bother me but I would like to see some improvement in the future.. The cheerleaders are , as they would say, U-G-L-Y. They all have a nice chest but the faces are ugh. Very bland and unattractive . Luckily you only see them a few times per game. Moving on…,dirt on the players has been improved because they are more spots where they can get dirty(stop thinking sick). The overall graphics and atmosphere is darker too which takes some getting used too. A few nice touches this year are Field wear and Weather/Time changes. As the game progresses into the late quarters the field becomes more torn up and it really shows. Turf is lifted up, there are dents and blemishes on the grass and the field looks worse in general. The weather and time of day also change as the game progresses. You can start a game in the Late Afternoon and by Halftime it will be Night. It can be sunny at the beginning of the game and pouring at the end and the field gets soggy and slippery. Very nice touches which gives the game a very realistic feel. Score: 9/10
As far as field sounds go, in this years Madden they are as good as ever. Players chatter and call out plays and audibles before the ball is snapped. The crowd gets louder as the home team drives down the field. The hard hits sound bone-crunching and players moan and groan as they lye devastated on the ground after they got their head knocked off. Nothing is better than hearing pad vs. pad collisions and this game represents it well. An overall improvement from last year.
Now for the commentary. Not much has been added or taken out of it this year. It is essentially the same as last year aside from a few minor improvements in transitions between parts of a sentence that have been pieced together to sound relevant. Madden still rambles on about things that are obvious and Al Micheals calls the game with generic play by play like any other sports game. Not much different than last year but luckily the sound is somewhat drowned out by the onfield sounds. Score: 8.5/10
The gameplay is top notch. All the add-ons to defense really make a difference from what I’ve seen so far. Especially the defensive hot routes. That saved my ass once when I realized that a player such as Samari Rolle was covering Brandon Stokley and not Marvin Harrison, like he should be. I moved him over to bump and run on Harrison and it saved me because the play was a designed deep pass to Harrison. The Hit stick takes some getting used to but can also make a difference. In one game I used it 6 times and missed 3 out of those 6. The 3 I hit though were beautiful. 2 of them caused fumbles. Let me tell you,the hits are DEVASTATING. Much better than last year. I cringed as I laid out Stokley as he came across the middle or when Steve McNair got demolished when trying to scramble. Every tackle animation has been improved along with the addition ALOT of new ones. I only saw four old animations from last year while the rest were new. Coverage is better this year also. If you throw a ball into double coverage do not expect it to be caught or you’ll be looking at 6 the other way. A nice little thing added is last minute pressure kicks. As your Kicker takes the field to make a game winning/game tyeing kick the game goes into a cinematic first person view. You then watch with anticipation as the ball flies through the air in slow motion. It is very fun to watch.
On the offensive side of things not much has changed except for a few minor,yet very good tweaks. When running holes open more realistically and you can actually run it outside this year. Something I really enjoy doing. The receivers are more responsive when you use the playmaker to change they’re direction. A flea-flicker is finally in the game as well as option plays for receivers in which they get a chance to choose which route they will run based on the defense. Screens develop better and a new QB drop animation has been added. The gameplay is great this year and I truly love the way it plays.
The new Rushing Attack mini-game is a blast as well as the Training Camp games from last year. I had some fun playing the old Sega Genesis Madden and the PS1 Maddens. Football 101, Practice Mode, Situation Mode, Tournament Mode, Create a Player, Create a Team and Create a Playbook all make a return this year as well as an all new Madden Moments mode exclusive to the CE version in which you replay some of the best Football moments of the past years. Another addition are videos which show and chronicle various aspects of the games making and history, All Playoff teams from the last 15 years as well as a very fun Trivia Mode that has over 1000 questions to answer. Another addition is the fun Create a Fan mode in which you can create the fan of your dreams that will actually appear during the games in short cutscenes. You can create nearly any aspect of the fan which makes for lots of fun.
Online play has been revamped with all new features and tidbits that make it unique. The ranked online games are now 4 minute quarters which makes for fast games. Some will like this but I personally do not. A new Sports Ticker is on the bottom of the screen that shows you scores of real life sporting events as well as online games people on your buddy list are playing. User Info is more in depth with all new stats such as scramble percentage and Rep points which show you if you can trust in having a clean game with the player. A feature to be added later this year is the All New Premium Pass in which you can create online leagues and have feedback on your and other player’s play styles. This will require a credit card but is free this year. This addition is awesome for any online fan.
Franchise mode has been improved for the better with Storyline Central in which the biggest stories in the NFL and your team can be viewed through National and Local Newspapers. These Storylines can affect morale,performance, attitude and other aspects of your team. You can now name Team Captains which can make your team better or worse depending on the respect coaches and players have for the Captains. Email is sent to you to express how Management, Coaches and Players feel about your decisions. Another addition is EA Sports Radio hosted by Tony Bruno. It is entertaining to listen to and and sounds authentic. It doesn’t repeat from what I have heard throughout my first Season and some say it does not repeat for 6 years of Franchise mode. Score: 9.5/10
This year’s Madden is a must have game for any true Madden fan or football fan in general. But the main thing is,Madden is a BLAST to play and you will get hooked for hours like I did. With the realistic yet fun gameplay, awesome online mode and classic Madden games, Madden 2005 would be hard to pass up.