Review by Fastkilr

" I'm never buying another EA game for a reason"

What makes a sports game successful? Obviously positive sales would help, but other than that it would seem hard to define a good sports game. This year it was fairly obvious that the console sports games were completely dominated by Sega. This was because of both the quality, and the helpful low price which was fairly attractive for armchair quarterbacks across the globe. However, the sales didn't signify that the ESPN line was doing better than EA's worn out Madden series. What's there to learn from this? Even if your critical acclaim is high, whoever can better promote their game has the most plausible chance at beating the other company to the snap.

Madden doesn't run smoothly. It could've worked fine if the game would've been presentable. The menus are well fleshed out, sure, but that doesn't do much for the headache inducing pace of gameplay that is at times rather unresponsive, and jumpy. Incapable of completing even the most obviously easy of passes, it could just be me, but I have a feeling Madden may suck equally for everyone. The players themselves are about as horrible at football as I am. Simple, dumbed down, and linear Madden's only about half as fun as the console counterpart.

The play books are nearly all identical, and the only real differences I found in them weren't really big enough of a deal to even sort through to one of your favorite playmakers. Whoever designed the plays in this game needs to be shot, as the players never follow their supposed routes which are often somewhat unpredictable and scrambled due to the setup of the defense, which always seems to be the perfect strategy against your plans of attack. How do you score or defend on a team that doesn't want to let you do either? It feels this way throughout.

After venting my disgust over the progress of the Madden series throughout the last few years, I was fired up and ready for EA to start making some changes. I've never played a good portable sports game before. Lonely as a cloud sat Madden 05 glaring at me underneath it's over-protective casing screaming out for me to bring it home, and call it my own. I would have none of that. Instead I decided to be the bigger man, and didn't throw a penny at EA. I politely “burrowed” Madden from my friend so I could give the portable for a test drive.

Visually, EA does pretty good for themselves producing a very neat (although somewhat sloppy) recreation of what the NFL's all about. It may capture some of the attitude, but it also comes out somewhat generic. Generic categorizes so much of the game. The player models all look the same, it's hard to identify players, and the colors blur all over the field. There's also quite a bit of flickering. Once your “team's” stolen a touchdown, the individual who took the point will start dancing. This is to be expected, but did you expect him to dance in place? I sure didn't. Perhaps Madden needs to stay off the portables until we can figure out how to make it look less eye-burning, and a little more natural.

As for the quality of the premise for a portable football game, it's already failed in that category. However, there's still hope. Madden 05 is a more linear, toned down version of the overly popular console game. Without all the bells and whistles of the home game, we're left with nothing but bells and whistles. Throughout the game, the crowd never shuts up, never changes expressions, never seems to care what's going on in the game. Whatever. Who really cares here.

Even if it's somewhat of a letdown, Madden does deliver replay value that will keep you squinting at your DS for many painful hours of mind numbing horror. You'll have to earn Madden cards which virtually do nothing for you. Some of these card challenges will ask you to do something like “QB has 100 percent passing”, or “Complete 20 consecutive passes”, all in all these challenges blow. The season mode feels far too long, and the games take far too long to get through, don't expect to play Madden in huge stints, I won't expect you to play it at all.

In the end I feel irritated, aggravated, and a little out of my mind. Madden hurts my head every time I look at it. EA did a horrible job of utilizing that great touch screen and I feel like the DS isn't doing itself any justice. I was already pissed off enough at EA, and the newest entry in this average football franchise didn't help matters. I will hold grudges. Viva La Sega!

4/10


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/05


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