Madden NFL 2005 Review (PC)

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No name is more closely associated with NFL football than John Madden, and no PC Football game is more recognizable than the Madden franchise, which is over a decade old now, and has stretched from console to PC. For all those years, football fans have thrilled to the excellent game play and good looks of this game system, so what does 2005 have to offer, outside of the latest player stats for the previous season? Quite a bit actually.

The biggest problem with this game system in the past, and really, most video football games, is the extremely high scoring. This isn't so bad head to head, but against the AI, it was not uncommon to hit 60 or more points in games, and that just isn't pro football. One of the many reasons this is true is because human players will often go for forth down, whereas the PC rarely will, and the fact it was so easy to get the yardage, scores were incredibly lopsided. Madden tries to correct this, by decreasing the probabilities of getting a first down on forth down, as well as a number of other defensive improvements.

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There are now preset defensive coverages you can use by just hitting the buttons, instead of having to bring up the defensive screen. This works great head to head, now you can look over the offensive set, and decide to blitz, or play zone, ect. You can also assign defenders to follow players, no matter the offensive set, so you can put your best corner on Moss, and you will probably need and want him there! All of these refinements means you can really defensively overwhelm the AI, and greatly improves head to head.

To really get the most out of the new defensive features, home PC owners should play this game with an dual-analog game pad. The reason being, hitting the control stick at the direction of the offensive player will propel your defender at him, and put the big hurt on the offensive player. How hard you tap the control determines just how hard you will hit the ball carrier, from a push to literally laying him out. This, if used correctly, will force fumbles and dropped passes. If you use it poorly, expect a big gain, because you can miss the ball carrier completely.

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Offensively, the game plays the same, with one exception, you can now shift players in formations, without changing the play. This helps fool the defenses, and provides different looks for the defensive player to deal with. There are also optional routes to run out of the same formation, so you can further fool the defense, by, for example, having TO run what looks like a curl, but is really a quick slant! These little perks add a real feel to this game, which makes it quite different from previous Maddens.

Overall, the game looks and plays very smoothly, as one would expect from such a well defined game system. They even included a sports caster and call in show, that includes wacky callers, and NFL news pertaining to your current season. This plays at the start of each week, and can be skipped, but it isn't long, and is fun to watch.

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Its hard to believe I have been playing Madden football for so many years, going back to the old Super nintendo, to where we are now in sports video games. All fans of pro football should pick this game up, and people who want to give a football fan a great gift, you won't go wrong by giving them Madden 2005.