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Q3 2004



- Brilliant new defensive A.I.

- More modes than any game of its type

- Addictive mini-games and Madden Card collection

- Hit stick gives players more control over defenders



- GameCube's lack of online play limits multi-player experience

- Commentary remains tired and repetitive



Review: Madden NFL 2005 (GBA)

Review: Madden NFL 2003 (GC)

Review: NCAA Football 2004 (GC)



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Madden NFL 2005

Score: 9.2 / 10


Though the field has been narrowed to two franchises (Madden and ESPN), it is still a great time to be a fan of American football and video games.  Our ESPN review has already appeared and it noted a game that was not only brilliant but priced at a bargain rate.  Madden isn't the same type of bargain (it is a full-priced game), but its depth, quality and number of modes makes it a bargain at any price.


madden nfl 2005 review           madden nfl 2005 review


Not much has changed since last year's model, but what changes are here are significant.  The big focus for EA in this update seems to have been defense.  Defensive options are more varied and the assignment of tackling to the analog stick is empowering, but the biggest difference is in the quality of artificial intelligence for the computer controlled defense.  No football game has ever approached the quality of A.I. seen in Madden 2005.  On the highest difficulty settings (which is the only way the game should be played), players will struggle for every inch of turf.


Like in the past few years, Madden's mini-games have become an obsession of mine.  Now, in training camp there are dozens of mini-games that can be used to increase the stats of a number of players on a team.  I much prefer the mini-game approach to simply assigning training as is done in ESPN 2K5.





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The other area that I think Madden is a step above ESPN is in the rewards area.  ESPN has The Crib, where players can use points earned in the game to buy bling for their apartment.  Madden 2005 returns with an improved Madden Card system that not only rewards players for in-game accomplishment, but also provides one-time cheats related to the player or team on the card.  I can't imagine how anyone could prefer the Barbie Doll like Crib mode with a mode that not only reflects the sports enthusiast's obsession with collectible cards, but also provides cool cheats for big game moments.



Graphically, the game is a minor upgrade over last year.  The textures are a tad higher quality and the character models, already great, have been further polished.  The stadiums are well-modeled, though the fans could use more detail and variety.  The animation is so realistic that hard tackles (especially those crunching blows delivered by perfect use of the hit stick) are absolutely brutal.


madden nfl 2005 review          madden nfl 2005 review


Maybe it is just that I'm getting used to the game, but the physics engine seems slightly less realistic, and, therefore, a bit more flexible.  Players still can't make cartoonish, stop-and-go moves, but it seems a bit easier to change direction or bounce off an offensive lineman than in the past.


The game's presentation, while lagging slightly behind the brilliant design of ESPN 2K5, is great nonetheless.  Only the still tired commentary keeps the presentation from being a total joy.  I really liked the new radio call-in show, though I'd like for it to focus more on the “local” team and less on the league as a whole.  The soundtrack is the best yet in a Madden game, though when I switch to playing the Xbox version (my version of choice), I'll definitely use my own soundtrack while playing through the multiple seasons.


I can't tell much difference in the control or overall quality of the Xbox and GameCube versions.  Graphically, the Xbox version is a bit sharper, but the difference between Xbox Madden and GameCube Madden is less than the difference between GameCube Madden and PS2 Madden.  Still, one of the best features of Madden 2005 is missing from the GameCube version: online play.  With Madden on Xbox Live and EA's own network playing so well on the PS2, it is hard to recommend the GameCube version to anyone who owns the other two systems.  Still, if the GameCube is the only system you own, Madden 2005 is a great purchase.


- Tolen Dante

(September 26, 2005)

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