Madden NFL 2005 E3 2004 Preshow Updated Impressions

EA Sports' next Madden football game will be at E3 2004. Get the details here.

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EA Sports will have Madden NFL 2005 on hand at E3. The new game's most prominent features will include a further emphasis on defensive plays, enhanced graphics, and an improved franchise mode.

The Madden team decided to add new gameplay improvements to the defensive side of the ball based on what players had said about last year's game. Specifically, many said Madden 2004's offensive plays seemed to present a bit of an advantage over its defensive plays. As such, the new game will let you use the right analog stick on your console control pad as a "hit stick," which essentially lets your currently selected defensive player make an exceptionally powerful diving tackle that, when successful, can stop a player cold. However, the hit-stick advantage is balanced out by the fact that if you miss your tackle, your player will fall flat on his face and will most likely be taken out of the current play. Besides featuring all-new hit-stick-tackle animations, the game will also feature a number of enhanced "regular" tackles--like shoestring tackles and "strip" tackles--which essentially let the defensive player target the ball rather than the runner, thus increasing the chances for a turnover. Additionally, you'll also have an expanded arsenal of defensive coverage plays, so you'll be able to assign your players to press coverage, and you can even double-team your opponent's star receiver when necessary. You'll actually be able to give individual coverage audibles to your players by quickly switching around to each one when you're on the field, which is similar to the mostly offense-oriented "playmaker" mode in last year's game (which does return in this year's game).

The new Madden game will also make numerous superficial improvements, including extremely detailed player models that will not only feature the reflective helmets and tattoos they had last year but also detailed jerseys with improved cloth textures that look realistically rumpled. The new game will also present improved stadiums that will be illuminated by all-new lighting and sky systems that will change dynamically over the course of a game.

Madden 2005's third-most-prominent improvement seems to be its franchise mode, which is now being referred to as "storyline central." This mode's interface will resemble that of a handheld personal digital assistant (PDA). The idea behind this mode is that any given season of the NFL is "driven by stories," including big wins, big losses, big trades, and big injuries that involve star players. The mode will feature audio commentary by ESPN radio-show host Tony Bruno (along with audio interviews from various NFL players and coaches), who hosts a radio show each week within the game. Storyline central will also let you consult the latest newspapers, which will feature dynamic coverage of the major stories that are happening in the league. Good and bad press will result, of course, based on your own career as a team owner. Therefore, if you make a poor trade, critical remarks about your judgment will be made by columnists. The game's e-mail system will work through your PDA, and it will let you field messages from your players, coaches, and agents, who will all work to keep you apprised of your players' morale levels, in addition to updating you on the status of any injured players on the injured reserve list. (Moreover, your staff will even chew you out for making a bad trade.)

Madden NFL 2005 will attempt to add some significant improvements to last year's already solid game. It's scheduled to ship later this year for the PC, the PS2, the Xbox, and the GameCube, along with a separate GBA version.

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