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Madden NFL 2005 PlayStation 2

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

Just over a week ago we looked at the PC version of Madden NFL 2005 and once again it was another impressive addition to one of the most successful sports game series. Now we get to look at the PlayStation 2 version of the game and in truth it's every bit as impressive as the PC version of the game. You won't find a plethora of new features in Madden NFL 2005 but the changes that have been made all serve to compliment what was great about last year's game and on the whole the new features have made this the best Madden game yet.

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.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 you can go to the Game Modes option to choose from Franchise, Mini Camp, 2-Minute Drill, Practice, Situation and Football 101. There's no online option though. 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.

Despite the PlayStation 2 now being a fairly old console, Madden NFL 2005 still looks great. In fact it's fair to say that visually the console versions of the Madden games over the years have been excellent and although you'd think that the PC version would look much better it's not the case and the game looks just as good on the PlayStation 2. Performance is very good too, with the frame rate remaining constant throughout which is great to see. In terms of presentation I actually prefer the PlayStation 2 version to the PC version. It's more simplistic and more intuitive. Before the snap you can press the R2 button and you'll have all the symbols for the buttons which is more intuitive than the numbers on the PC version (because not everyone knows how the buttons are numbered on a PC gamepad).

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 the EA Sports Radio is unsubtitled and again it's not any major importance. The Football 101 tutorials and demonstration movies that highlight the new features aren't subtitled either. It's a shame about the Football 101 tutorials although you can still use them to practice your skills though you won't be aware of the excellent advice that is given. In every other respect though the game is absolutely fine and all the information is in text so you'll have no problems at all in enjoying the game. The game manual, like the PC 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 on the PlayStation 2.

Overall Game Rating: 9.2/10
Once again it's another first class addition to the Madden NFL series. Defensively the game is much better and the game feels much more balanced as a result. It's going to be very difficult to improve the series next year.

Deaf Gamers comment:
There are some aspects of the game that are not subtitled but there's nothing that should spoil your enjoyment of this excellent game.