Madden NFL 2005 Review

A brand new portable system and a new incarnation of the long running Madden NFL series Ė recipe for some great football gaming on the go, right? Wrong. Madden NFL 2005 DS features some surprisingly sub-par graphics, poor sound work, bugs, and a general lack of polish that will leave you with the feeling that youíre playing with a beta version of the game rather than the final product.

Probably the first question that came to your mind when you heard that Madden NFL was coming to the DS was probably whether or not the game would make good use of the DSí unique dual screen layout. Well the game makes use of both screens, but overall it tends to be more for noveltyís sake than for innovative gameplay. The touchscreen is used to display your playbook and you can even tap to select plays, but while this is going on the main screen just shows your team in a huddle so thereís not much added value here. The touchscreen is also used to display the kick meter, so you get a nice big view of the meter but do so at the cost of being able to aim your kick.

During plays the touchscreen is used to display a top-down, Xís and Oís view of the action. This can give you a good look at the separation between a receiver and his defender, but overall it is not very practical to be bouncing your eyeballs between two screens to both watch for open receivers and avoid the rush. I suppose you could play the entire game while using the touchscreen view, but itís been over 20 years since gamers were last forced to play video football with an overhead view of Xís and Oís.

Overall the gameís graphics are disappointing. The players all look the same Ė cartoon-like, disproportioned hulks whose animation is surprisingly stilted and choppy. Itís almost as if EA recycled an older graphics engine for the game rather than develop one that takes advantage of the DSí screen resolution. The quality of the visuals can also make play a little difficult at times, as it can be hard to judge the distance to holes in the line or to cut the right defensive angle. While the graphics are merely disappointing, the sound is downright terrible. The game commentary is surprisingly limited, so expect to hear the same few phrases over and over again even within the same game. Making matters worse is that there is sometimes a disconnect between the action on the field and the play by play call, leaving you to wonder sometimes if the announcers are watching the same game that you are.

On the plus side the game plays a solid game of football and the strengths and weaknesses of the teams do a good job of matching those of their real-life counterparts. However, the AI does have a tendency to have trouble with some particular plays. The running game is a mixed bag, with running between the tackles too difficult and large gains from outside runs too common. All in all, though, youíll probably be pleased enough with the on field play in the game.