Review by MortigiTempo

Reviewed: 08/12/05

Better than I expected.

When I heard EA was awarded exclusive rights to the NFL license, I vowed never again to play the Madden series or, for that matter, an EA game ever again.

But when August rolled around and murmurs of a never before seen "superstar" mode, I couldn't help but admit that my interest had been peked. I personally wrote letters to EA and Sega Sports requesting this mode. Needless to say, to see the one thing I really wanted finally included in a football game kind of shattered my anger towards the series.... so I decided to do something I haven't done in 3 years. I bought a Madden Game.

The superstar mode isn't a let down. You create your own player by first selecting your "parents", with randomly generated jobs, IQs and talents. These stats will affect your player's natural ability, so choose wisely.

From there you get to the NFL Draft, where you are more or less randomly assigned to a team. Hire an agent, customize your player's appearance, and you're ready to go! Guide your player through two a day practices, field questions from reporters, and ink yourself a movie or commercial deal to gain notoriety for your character.

You are in complete control of your character in this mode. Be a noble and humble player, or rip a page out of Joe Namath's playbook and guarantee victory... but be careful... your image in the public eye is at stake.

The graphics are sharp, especially when it comes to the lighting. The sun actually moves during the course of the game to hammer in that feel of a warm fall afternoon drifting away to dusk, and the gameplay and computer AI is noticeably improved.

With all the nice additions, you'd think it'd be hard to complain. But EA managed to omit some really great parts of the game, and still have some kinks they refuse to iron out.

Namely: Audio. John Madden and Al Michaels just don't cut it. The speech is jagged and badly spliced together. Madden and Michael's rigid delivery doesn't give the gamer the feel of two seasoned commentators giving their perspective on the game. They don't even actually speak to eachother so much as they just trade one liners, or state the painfully obvious.

Some of the audio clips have been in the series for years, and it just seems that they aren't even trying. This really hurts the presentation as a whole.

And speaking of presentation, this is where Madden really slacks off. No pre-game talk or animations, no half-time special, no post game chatter either. It's all strangely missing, and hugely disappointing.

In the graphics department, the uniforms, field, stadiums and lighting is top of the line, but the look of the players themselves, particularly in the face is still off.

The gameplay is good, but complicated. The new passer field of vision is unique, but highly unnecessary, and the "truck stick" can be hard to manipulate.

Playmaker control requires you to "click" the R3 button, then hit a direction to make an on the fly route alteration, but this proves too difficult, as the only time you would need to use it is when you've been flushed out of the pocket and have all your receivers stuck downfield, or are setting up blocks for your halfback. Unfortunately, things are pretty hairy and fast paced in these situations, and having to reach down to the control stick from holding the X button to sprint can be hard if not clumsy and frustrating.

All in all, the game is great if you've got nimble fingers and don't mind the lack of effective presentation.

If you're a casual gamer and have to have the most current, updated game on the market, or, like me, have been wishing for a mode where you control one player through his entire career on and off the field, then this is your game.

But if you like witty commentary, beautiful player likenesses and television quality presentation, you might want to pass on this year's offering from EA and pick up (or keep playing as the case may be) ESPN 2k5

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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