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Madden 2005 Package Art
 GENRE
  Sports
 DEVELOPER
  EA Tiburon
 PUBLISHER
  EA Sports
 NUMBER OF PLAYERS
  1-4
 CONNECTIVITY
  no
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Madden 2005

During the past four years, madden NFL has been a strong presence on the GameCube. After all, Sega, and now Take-Two as well, have not stepped over to Nintendo’s console with the ESPN series. Be that as it may, Madden has always, and for some time afterwards, been the name for NFL football action, especially on the Cube. Having said that, Madden NFL 2005 still holds a brilliant candle on the genre without lifting a finger. Improving upon the series has been hard since it is still so great and tampering with the proven formula could lead to disaster. Even so, they’ve added some great features on the defensive line that actually solidify the gaming experience as a whole. However, the offensive improvements are few and far between. The same could be said for other aspects such as visuals and production value overall. As it stands, this game is still an amazing title that proves once again that Madden is the king.

visuals

If you’ve played last year’s installment, don’t be surprised if you see the same old same old in tact here. There have been minor adjustments to players’ uniforms and the frames of the character models, but that’s mostly what you’re going to see from a technical standpoint. The most impressive visual aspect in this title, however, are the new tackling animations which are just amazing. Using the new hit-stick, which will be mentioned later, can lead to players slaughtering each other and practically punching them in the face. They might as well, after all, after some of the hits we’ve seen. Also, the create-a-fan mode is impressive in the amount of depth. In NCAA 2005, we had a slight option for the fans, but creating your own obsessive fan is just awesome. The amount of options in the creation is very generous. Of course, the only things the fans offer are recycled bits played out over and over. You’ll never see any drunken brawls, but you’ll still see plenty of half-naked, painted men. Vikings have never been sexier.

audio

One of the most noticeable complaints on this game that can be judged right off the bat is the soundtrack used in the continued EA Trax feature. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of Franz Ferdinand, The Hives, and Green Day... but in football? Are football fans all emo-freaks? Come on, now. At least give us some Kool and the Gang or Jefferson Airplane. At least we don’t hear Modest Mouse in the game playing “Float On” dozens upon dozens of times.

Having gotten that out of the way, we can definitely say that the overall production quality in the field of sound is amazing. The sound effects really put an extra “hit” into the hit-stick feature and coupling that with those awesome tackling animations, it’s just one more step towards greatness. The new EA Sports Radio, which we’ll talk about later, is a very cool addition also. Tony Bruno may not be the most enthusiastic or charismatic radio host, but he gets the job done in the overall delivery. His service here is greatly appreciated and the calls he takes from the irate fans can lead to hilarity.

gameplay

Let’s start off on the right foot here. There haven’t been a whole lot of changes in this incarnation of Madden. That being said, if you’ve played last year’s to death, you will easily dominate the field offensively on the default difficulty setting, so you may want to automatically go to All-Madden for some real challenge.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can head straight into the main additions to this year’s installment, which is mainly in the defensive game. Most impressive is the hit stick controls. While you’re playing defense, you can use your right analog stick in order to stop a ball carrier in their tracks. It may sound a whole lot like a normal tackling maneuver, but the hit stick is far more than that. Using the analog’s precision technology, you can tap the stick while running alongside your opponent and give him a gentle nudge, causing him to lose his balance and stumble. Too wimpy? Try slamming on the hit stick for a full on, “I will kill you” tackle which will always leave you a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’. Getting the timing down for this maneuver is critical, though, since you can easily give up a touchdown just by falling down on your face. Also included is a new hot route system for the defense. If you’ve been playing Madden, you should know what a hot route is in the offense. Basically, you highlight any given player and assign them to a different direction using your analog controls. Having this option on the defensive line can save games, especially considering that the artificial intelligence can just own a quarterback during a blitz.

Offensively, there just isn’t that much flavor added to the mix this year. You have the option to move the offensive formation, which are best described as audibles only you don’t change the play at all. New option routes have also been added, but they’re hardly noticed, especially if you’re used to the sort of gameplay from last year. This lack of change is certainly not a bad thing because the series has always been an offensive juggernaut. If they had improved offense even more this year, the balance that’s been achieved with the hit stick and defensive hot routes would be null and the hard work would be on the verge of pointless.

Some of the more notable improvements are found in the Storyline Central found in the revamped Franchise mode, which is the meat of Madden NFL 2005. Along with the EA Sports Radio, which we mentioned earlier, other additions include communication from agents and players via e-mail. All they really do is gripe in your ear for no particular reason if things aren’t going their way. Also included is the use of licensed local and nation newspapers. You’ll be able to read the San Diego Union-Tribune if you’re playing as the San Diego Chargers. Raiders fans will get to read the Oakland… Newspaper.

multiplayer

No football game is complete without multiplayer. What use for sports is there if you can’t get together with your buddies, booze it up and start playing some big matches of Madden? Unless you’re under 21 of course, in which you should omit the boozing part. However, there are some improvements to the multiplayer experience if you only have one other friend to play with. There’s a set of mini-games you can play, either on defense or offense. If you’re playing offense, you need to get as many touchdowns as possible within two minutes. Guess what you have to do on defense? That’s right. Defend your goal line. Yet another example of a gratuitous design scheme that EA Tiburon just throws out there with some sort of a “Check this out. We did this for you,” comment.

overall

Madden NFL 2005 is easily the best football game on the GameCube today. Even if you aren’t a football fan, I can’t see you disagreeing with that statement. If you only have a GameCube, chances are that this is your only option this year. However, if you have a PS2 or Xbox, there’s no doubt that you’ve already checked out ESPN NFL 2K5. There’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t give Madden 2005 a shot, though. It’s a great game of pigskin and if you’re a fan, you should pick this game up, gather up four wavebirds and invite your friends over for Round Table, MGD, and Exhibition.

final score 9.3/10





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Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"


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