Madden NFL 2005 Review
Madden NFL 2005 is still Madden. That is to say, it's another superb game of football that continues Madden's long legacy as one of the best in the business.
As the best-selling football franchise on the market for an umpteen number of years, Madden NFL is a name that is known by the masses as representative of some of the best football you can get on a video game console. Last year's Madden NFL 2004, in particular, is revered as one of the best installments EA has ever brought out--which ultimately makes it a tough act to follow. For this year's edition, Madden NFL 2005, defense is the name of the game. Nearly all of the additions and tweaks made to this year's game fall squarely into the realm of defensive football, and they're all great new features. The downside to this high emphasis on one particular area of the game seems to be that the remaining aspects of the game (of which there are many) are generally only slightly improved or altered, if at all. In many ways, Madden 2005 is just a bit too much like last year's Madden for comfort--but it's still a truly excellent game of football all around.
If you've ever felt that Madden was simply a one-sided piece of pigskin in favor of offensive play, Madden 2005 changes all of that. The additions made to the defensive side of the ball are plentiful and all superb. The first and most entertaining addition is the new "hit stick." Essentially, when on defense, tapping the right control stick in the direction of your opponent will lay a nasty hit on him. What the hit stick translates into is context-sensitive tackling that you can control. If you're just running alongside your opponent and tap it without getting much of a head of steam, then you'll just kind of shove him. Get up a good bout of speed, and you will absolutely waylay the poor ball carrier. Using the hit stick properly will also result in more fumbles and dropped passes for the offense. However, you have to be careful, because missing with the stick leads to a supremely missed tackle, which consequently gives your opponent an easy way to dodge past you. While this sounds like it could be a little over-complicated if not done right, in this case it is done right. As a result, using the stick becomes an immensely fun way to play the defensive side of the ball.
Another big-time addition is the new defensive hot route system. Similar to the offensive hot routes, you can now redesign a defensive player's assignment at the touch of a button. Want to push a linebacker into deeper zone coverage or bring a safety in for the blitz? Simply highlight the player, and tap the right analog stick in the desired direction. You can also give better pre-snap assignments to your defensive backs now. Individual presses and pullbacks on receivers can be performed, and you can also lock a corner on to a specific receiver, thus preventing mismatches. Finally, you can now also adjust how a defensive lineman attacks the offensive line without actually having to shift your whole line. What all of this amounts to is a far more user-configurable defense that actually makes playing defense much more enjoyable and strategic. The strategy works beautifully, since the defensive artificial intelligence is generally very, very good, and it performs your changes perfectly. If you're adept at defensive playcalling and are able to make good reads, you should be able to dominate on defense--at least against the CPU.
On the flip side of things, Madden NFL 2005's offensive game isn't really all that different from Madden NFL 2004, save for a few, small changes. For one, you can now make formation shifts on the line. Formation shifts are essentially audibles that don't change the play. You can move your running back out of the backfield and into a better position for the reception, or you can overload one side of the field with receivers. You'll also notice some new option routes for receivers in this year's game. Option routes are typically highlighted on the playcalling screen and feature dotted lines coming off of a curl route, for example. These lines indicate possible directions that a receiver may run, depending on that receiver's assessment of the current coverage scheme. The intelligence of the receivers who are running these routes seems to vary depending on the quality of the player, but, as a whole, the feature seemed to work well.
However, aside from these few offensive changes, which ultimately don't amount to a whole lot more than nice, little touches, the offensive game feels almost exactly the same as last year's Madden. This isn't a bad thing, by any means, but what it does mean is that anyone who played last year's version of the game shouldn't have a lick of trouble simply blowing up the game offensively on the default difficulty. All-pro and All-Madden difficulties are something of another story, but in actuality, experienced Madden fans still shouldn't have a ton of trouble with either of them. Some of the old Madden money plays are still just as effective as ever, and there really isn't a whole lot of new "stuff" to get used to this time around. Granted, the AI defense has more tricks up its sleeve now, what with all the new defensive hot routes and shifts and such, so there is that to be taken into consideration.
On the features side of things, Madden NFL 2005 is as robust as it has ever been, though not all of the preexisting modes have seen too much in the way of changes. We'll start with the franchise mode, which has easily seen the most work. The big, new presentational change to the mode is the addition of sports radio host Tony Bruno. Billed as EA Sports Radio, the Bruno-hosted show actually plays at the start of each week, and by listening to the show, you'll hear interviews with players and coaches, hear Tony take calls from irate and occasionally idiotic fans, and hear little tidbits about things happening in the NFL. For example, we encountered one scenario where quarterback Mark Brunell was benched early on in the season in favor of Patrick Ramsey. Of course, Brunell was not pleased with the decision, which Tony was quick to report. The dialogue is occasionally a little jittery when Bruno discusses specific stuff related to your league scenarios, but the more generalized bits, like the phone calls, are pretty entertaining.
- Player Reviews: 22
- Game Universe:
- Madden NFL 2004 (PS, GC, GBA, PS2, XBOX, PC),
- Madden NFL 2000 (PC, GBC, N64, PS, MAC),
- Madden NFL 2001 (PS2, PS, GBC, N64, PC),
- Madden NFL 97 (PC, PS, GEN, SAT, GB, SNES),
- Madden NFL 98 (PC, PS, GEN, SNES, SAT),
- Madden NFL 99 (PC, N64, PS),
- Madden NFL '94 (GEN, SNES),
- Madden NFL 95 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES),
- Madden NFL 96 (GEN, GB, GG, SNES, PC, PS),
- Madden NFL 2002 (PS2, GC, PC, PS, N64, XBOX, GBC, GBA)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Number of Players: