Madden NFL 2005
I saw my first American football match a few years ago when local TV broadcasted the Super Bowl, which was rather strange for our country. Despite the insane hour of the live coverage I was ready, as was my family pack crisps, for the Greatest Show on Earth. To my own surprise the typical American spectacle totally exceeded all my expectations. An unbelievable show, complex tactics and strategies, rock-hard action and Britney during the break were combined in a very exciting and professional ballsport, spiced up with tough players full of attitude. It should not be difficult to imagine my expectations about Madden NFL 2005!
The Maddenseries of EA Games has been one of the best selling and most respected football games on the market for years. But Madden is not different from the FIFA-series: every year there is a new version with some improvements and better graphics. This season the adaptations were focused on the defensive side of the gameplay. Most prominent new feature is without a doubt the so-called ‘hit-stick’: depending on the force and direction of you hitting the thumbstick you can now tackle the opponents like hell. Spectacular crashes or embarassing misses will be your part when using this option.
The game itself remains very extensive and the most demanding sportsgamer will encounter sufficient different modes, trainings and tutorial options to keep him or her satisfied for weeks. Not only you’ll have the classic separate games but there’s also the Franchise mode where you can take care of the management of a team and lead it to the top. Thanks to the Storyline Central you’ll receive feedback, stories, interviews and coverage on radio and in newspapers. Very important in this mode is the players’ morale that will be dependent of the achievements on the field. Your management of the social adventures of the players will be key to making them perform optimally in order to bring the team to the Nirvana of the NFL: Super Bowl.
The amount of options and settings is truly impressive and it gives this game a depth that I haven’t experienced yet in any sports title. Without going into too much detail, some examples: one can assign hot routes for offense and defense, change assignments of players on-the-fly, quickly adapt formations, tasks and patterns of the team etc. In the Franchise mode you can even take care of the composition of the grass, the color of the shirts, weather, budgets, buy and sell players etc.
It can’t be denied that this level of detail and simulation is a very big plus but for the normal Belgian gamer the stunning amount of rules, tactics and plays of American football can be a little bit overwhelming, even if you know some of the basics like I do. Despite the possibilities to get to know all the plays and aspects of the game separately in some of the different modes, you’ll probably feel at bit lost in the beginning. The developers clearly assumed that you already knew the ins and outs of American football before you booted up the disc, just like nobody will explain to you the off-side in a FIFA-game. Do take this into account because it could jeopardise your experience if you do not want to invest some time in getting to know the basics and rules of this sport.
Compared to the previous version of Madden we can state that the AI of the cpu-controlled players has been improved significantly. Everyone on the field seems to react logically to different situations. Even when you’re not touching the controls you can count on it that they will handle as you ordered and will adapt independently according to the situation. The good AI is also reflected in the difficulty of the game. On All-Madden the game will turn out to be a huge challenge but it never feels as if the CPU is cheating. Nevertheless, the All-Madden mode can’t replace the thrill of competing agains human opponents which makes it all the more regrettable that the (excellent) online options are not available on this European version of the game.
The graphics are overall of high quality and also the menus are very well done. Especially the models and animations deserve a separate mention. Agressive tackles (players really do go airborne according to the impact), elegantly throwing quarterbacks and running forwards are all animated very fluently and realistically. A fun addition is without a doubt the Create-A-Fan option in which one can design a fan (with team colors and accessories) and meet them in the game later on during a cut-scene.
The soundtrack and commentators do what they have to do (but nothing more): create the atmosphere and support the focus of Madden: gameplay.
Madden NFL 2005 is an extremely detailed sportsgame with impressive depth that will not disappoint the football fan, despite the lack of online options and some smaller issues. The realism and the fun that comes from the endless number of options, the AI and All-Madden mode is combined with excellent animations and an attractive Franchise mode. In short: this is triple A gameplay and a real must-have for gamers who know American football or for those ready to invest a lot of time in it.