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Madden NFL 2005 PC CD-ROM

Published by EA Sports
Developed by EA Sports
Release Date : Out Now
Price : £29.99

Every year we see updates of the EA Sports range and we all hope that the titles we're interested in will have improved. Some years this doesn't happen which is natural of course but if you had to pick one series that seems to get better every year then it would have to be the Madden NFL series. Almost every Madden NFL game that's been released has been an improvement upon the previous one and that's no small achievement when you consider they are almost always impressive titles. Last year we looked at the Xbox version of Madden NFL 2004 and for a change this year we thought we'd look at the PC version of Madden NFL 2005 to see if the series can maintain it's continual level of excellence.

Madden NFL 2005, as you might expect, brings some nice additions to the series. There's been an emphasis on improving the defensive aspects of the game and perhaps the most innovative new feature is the incorporation of the Hit Stick. The Hit Stick essentially requires you to use a gamepad with two analogue sticks. Console gamers will automatically have these requirements but the chances are that most PC gamers will probably need a recent gamepad in order to use this function properly. When in defensive positions you'll now be able to perform all manner of defensive manoeuvres ranging from fantastic take downs to simple nudges in an effort to stop your opponents. Of course, as the manual says, it requires good timing or you'll effectively allow your opponent a clean run to the line. New defensive playmaker options are also available in Madden 2005. Defensive hot routes have now been included. Before the snap you'll be able to use the right analogue stick to contain the Quarterback, order a Blitz and make line adjustments. The Madden series might have been criticised in the past for not being as impressive with it's defensive options as it has been with it's attacking options but this year, this has been rectified.

Anyone who played last year's Madden game will more or less know the game modes that are available in Madden NFL 2005. You can jump straight into a quick game by choosing the Play Now option or Play Online or you can go to the Game Modes option to choose from Franchise, Mini Camp, 2-Minute Drill, Practice, Situation and Network Game modes. On the face of it then it's the same as last year and whilst that's pretty much true there have been some differences made to the Franchise mode. The emphasis seems to be more on keeping your players happy and looking after their morale, which is more realistic. You'll now notice a Storyline Central tab that allows you to look at virtual newspapers for both local and national news. You can also check out any emails that you might have received. Also under the Storyline Central tab is the EA Sports Radio. Of course you're probably thinking this isn't going to be any good for deaf gamers and you'd be right in thinking that. Once the EA Sports Radio has been enabled a virtual radio station plays away whilst you look through the other menus and tinker with the various options available. Deaf gamers will be completely unaware of it though. Thankfully though it's not much of a loss as it doesn't provide any information that can't be found from the statistics.

Customisation is another key word of Madden NFL 2005. You can create a team, create a player, create a playbook, change the rosters and even create a fan. For those of you who like to have a hand in customising everything these options will be most welcome. Whilst it's actually rather amusing to create your own spectators I suspect most will just choose the create a team and create a playbook options. Whilst we are on the subject of customisation you can even change players positions if you want to. As per usual you can also edit the rosters to keep them as updated as possible, a feature that an enthusiast couldn't possibly be without.

Having looked at the Xbox version of last years Madden, it's a bit of shock to see the game on a PC at the higher resolutions the PC offers. Surprisingly though although the graphics do look sharper you can't really say they look any better although the texture quality does seem to be better. This isn't really a complaint though as last year's Madden NFL 2004 looked very good on the Xbox and Madden NFL 2005 is still a good looking PC game but some would probably feel that it should have looked a lot better than the console versions. Everything from the detail and animations of the players to the vibrant and animated crowds is impressive (no cardboard cut-out audiences here). Presentation is once again fantastic and even the Franchise mode seems to have been set out better this time around.

Sports games are always the same in regards to how deaf gamer friendly they are and Madden NFL 2005 is certainly no different. The game commentary is of course unsubtitled and in fairness to sports game developers it would probably be impractical as the text would impede your vision of the game. We've already mentioned that EA Sports Radio is unsubtitled and again it's not any major importance. In every other respect though the game is absolutely fine and all the information is in text so you'll have no problem at all in enjoying the game. The game manual is disappointing because other than listing all the game controls it does little else and doesn't offer any information of value that would help a novice (seasoned Madden gamers probably wouldn't need much help).

In truth Madden NFL 2005 doesn't make wholesale changes to the series but those of you that played Madden NFL 2004 will know that it wasn't necessary to do this. Instead the developers have kept what was great about Madden NFL 2004 and simply corrected what could have been better. Essentially this means that the defensive aspects of the game have had a rework and feel much better and you have a sense of more control over your teams defensive activities. The upgraded Franchise mode is also a boon and it's the one area of the game that gamers will never tire of. The extra customisation options are nice but if, like me, you don't have time to invest in such lengthy undertakings you probably won't fully appreciate just what you can do with them. The bottom line though is that Madden NFL 2005 is the best game in the series that builds on the excellent Madden NFL 2004 and provides the best NFL experience that you can currently buy.

Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10
The new defensive options give Madden NFL 2005 a more realistic and complete feel than any of the previous Madden games. Easily the best virtual representation of the sport to date.

Deaf Gamers comment:
There a few areas of the game that are unsubtitled but for the most part it will cause deaf gamers no problems at all.