NINTENDO DS REVIEW: MADDEN NFL 2005
Sports fans know that Madden has been around on every system since the NES 8-bit. So it was really no surprise when EA announced Madden would be their first "Sports" game to be released for the system at launch time. We heard about the new changes in the kicking meter and the use of the touch screen. It looked like Madden would be a great football game for the DS. While it is a solid football game overall, the game is not without a few bugs and seems a bit stripped down from other versions. I know that this is a handheld system and to expect every feature would be asking too much. One exception is that EA did add almost every mode found in other versions with the exception of the franchise season. One of the limitations is that the season mode only takes you to the Playoff games. There is no Superbowl game and once you win the season you need to replay the game. Now they did keep in the options like trades and the deadlines. All of those can be changed or turned off or on to fit the gamer's preference. They even added the 2-minute drill and the Madden Challenge as well as the Madden Cards. They even have a few special things locked away to earn like historic coaches playbooks and other neat little goodies. It would seem that the game sounds great so far, right? Well, not so fast EA missed a few things that made this one a decent game when it could have been a great one. Read on to see why I made this statement.

Let me start with the graphics of the game. When you turn it on and see the opening and the music starts to play, it looks fantastic. The same goes for any of the modes when you enter the game. The graphics are sharp and detailed. However, after the very first play, you soon will see that the detailed look fades fast. You won't see the names of your players down the field or even their number. It seems that the farther the camera pans out in the top view, the worse the graphics seem to get. It's not terrible but it does make the game look less impressive. I will say that the animations of the player doing a "Juke" move or a another special move are great and only proves that with a little more effort the graphics should have been better throughout the entire game. I also noticed a few glitches. Players seem to blend into the sidelines and at times the graphics clip a bit. Of course being a huge fan of sports game and a reviewer, I notice these things perhaps more than the average gamer would. Although I am sure die-hard fans will notice the same things I am.

Madden tries to make use of the dual screens and pulls it off fairly well. It does take some time to learn exactly how to make use of the "touch" feature. You can do some really neat things with the touch screen but the learning curve is a little longer. You may find yourself trying to pass by looking at the bottom screen and it's hard to throw the ball with the right touch using this method. I found the best use for the touch screen was when I was in a running situation or calling an audible or hot route. This is where having the 2 screens is pretty cool. I have also heard from a few friends who have played the 2-player connect mode that the touch screen options are not available while playing in this mode. I checked with a few sources and found this to be the way the mode was made. The sound is great at the intro screens and the music comes out clear and not having that tin can sound like the GBA version. Again, it starts out great and soon fades in the background. You will hear John and Al make comments every once and awhile but the crowd and other sounds seem distant and at times almost seem to disappear. You will hear at the snap of the ball the QB and other players very clear but once the play begins the sound fades quickly.

While this game may not be as solid as one for a console, it's not bad for a handheld version. The amount of plays and options for a handheld version is impressive. You will need to adjust to the way the graphics and sounds are to enjoy the game. Die-hard football fans will adjust faster than the gamer who plays a sports game every now and then. If you're thinking about picking this one up, I would suggest a rental if you're not a die-hard sports fan. If you are a die-hard fan, keep in mind you will spend some time getting used to the dual screen controls as well as the kicking meter. Onside kicks will be hard to pull off if not impossible. While the game has a few issues, looking back so did the first version of every Madden ever made for a new system. It's not an excuse and certain things could have been addressed before they released the game. I found that after playing the game for a while I soon got used to the way it was made and had a good time playing it. While it has issues the game is a good football game complete with realistic fatigue and injuries. It certainly showed promise for the next version and sports games in general.

Preview By Chris

Madden NFL Football has always shown up on new systems. So it should be no surprise that a smaller version of the game will be released at the same time as the launch of the DS system. Long time Madden fans will have to be ready for some major adjustments and will have to get use to using both of the DS screens though. Madden will feature impressive 3D graphics and also thanks to the duel speakers the game will have some great sounds for a handheld version. The big differences in this version will be how gamers will play the new Madden.

Of course by now everyone knows about the touch screen that the DS is going to feature. It seems Madden will use this screen as the screen to control the major parts of the game. This will also be true in all the modes, which seem to include almost all found in the regular version except the franchise mode. In case you are wondering how you will be able to watch both screens at one time while playing the game you are not alone. While the DS version looks impressive from the screen shots the controls are going to have a learning curve for sure. Every one knows from seeing John Madden covering the Monday night football games.

He loves to use that illustrator of his. He loves to draw diagrams and lines and at times almost seems to get carried away. His style has become an easy target for those that parody the guy on shows like Mad TV and even on the Fox pre-game show. Now imagine the touch screen as your own illustrator. Using the touch screen you will be able to draw up plays and have to use this screen for all the action. Including passing, kicking and then use the top screen to see the play develop.
If you are confused welcome to the club however, it seems the new control system may just be the one thing that will give football fans the real chance at a taste of what its like to be a coach as well as play the game.

You will see on the touch screen in offense your key passers and top play makers. When the ball is hiked you will see the your options and then touch the screen to that player to highlight him. The QB will then wait for the right opening and pass the pall to that player. I am sure gamers will have to take time to learn the new control system and the learning curve will take awhile. One you get the hang of having to look at both screens it seems that the game will open some new ways of playing the game that even the bigger versions have never offered before. It will also add a more realistic angle to the game since the when playing against a friend they simply cannot look and see what play you picked. This is due to the fact you can draw up slight changes on the basic plays and confuse the other player.

The game will also feature a new kicking system that will also be controlled by the touch screen. Imagine seeing the kicking meter go off and then all of a sudden you see someone waiting in the end zone and your down by six points instead of three? Madden NFL 2005 will be different on the DS that is for sure. The big question is will players like the new touch screen controls. After all it is a huge change from the game sorts fans have grown to know.

Features:

  • Lose the Wires - Play Madden NFL 2005 wirelessly against players across the room.
  • Best-Ever Graphics - Featuring the ?nest 3D graphics available on a handheld unit, including authentic uniforms and detailed player portraits.
  • Incredibly Deep Gameplay - With a full Season mode, detailed player attributes, and other game modes including Situation mode and 2 Minute Drill, there's plenty to keep you busy.
  • Put Some Touch on the Ball - Take control of your game faster and easier than ever before with a quick touch of the screen. Use the touchpad to select plays, call audibles at the line of scrimmage, and maneuver the kicking meter.
  • Twice the Vision - See where all 22 players are on the field on one screen while controlling the key action on the other.
  • Breakthrough Gameplay - Air it out with 5-receiver sets or let your QB create havoc with his legs as well as his arm with all-new scrambling ability.
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System: DS
Dev: EA Sports
Pub: EA Sports
Release: Nov 2004
Players: 1 - 2
Review By Chris
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.0
CONTROL
3.5
MUSIC/FX
3.0
VALUE
3.0