Top 100 PS2 Review: #98 – Madden 2005 (2004)

A Time Capsule.

I’ll Check My Palm Pilot After I’m Done Reading the Newspaper.

IGN’s Ranking: #98/100
My Rating: cropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpgcropped-star.jpg

[OVERVIEW]

I’ve only broken a controller to one game — Madden. It is quite possibly the most infuriating game I’ve ever played. Your star wide receiver will fail to corral a soft lob while the opponent magically catches a richoteched pass off a players’ foot for a 90-yard touchdown. There is absolutely no justice in Madden, but there is a lot of fun that comes with the ups and the downs. 

Between all the Maddens, 06 was the one I sunk the most hours into. That was my senior year in highschool, and I only went to school every other day. I kind of stopped after that iteration because Madden is really hard to just pick up and play. It has a steep learning curve and typically playing on All-Pro is too easy while playing on All-Madden too difficult unless you put in the time. 

With Madden 2005, the biggest addition was defense. The goal on every play was to line up the defender just right and use the “hit stick” (the right analog) and flick it in the direction of the offensive player. Timing it right leads to a massive tackle and potential fumble. Along with that, a bunch of defensive adjustments were added allowing you to change coverages or certain matchups. All of this was in a response to Madden 2004 where people who chose Michael Vick could embarrass any team. 

Good luck.

I didn’t know what to expect when I came back to Madden after so many years. Would the fingers still be nimble? Would I remember how to play? Would I break another controller?

While I did almost break my hand after one egregious series of events, Madden 05 was everything I remembered…and more! It is impressive how much replay value there is as I played through variations of franchises taking my woeful Washington Football Team (which was of course called the R****** back then) to back-to-back Super Bowls after a couple years of building the roster and progressing players.

What I wasn’t expecting was how much life had changed in the past 15 years, both with football and life.

[ANALYSIS]

Peace Out, Homeskillet.

My sister moved to London during my freshman year of college. Not being able to carry over device, she left her palm pilot with me. I was the big boss on campus with this massive $300 dollar machine in my pocket. It came with a stylus and had a full, mechanical keyboard for texting. The iphone wouldn’t come out until a couple years later.

Using your trusted palm pilot, you can check the NFL schedule, read messages, and enter player negotiations. I forgot a stylus even existed! There is also an option to read the local newspaper to see if you are getting the respect you deserve from the local market

I read the sports section every morning on the bus.

And who could forget the Madden soundtracks? A collection of eclectic genres (because they had to satisfy a wide spectrum of musical tastes) included rock, hip-hop, and alternative. What could be more 2000s than a Will.I.Am hip-hop single?

It wasn’t only the cultural/technological changes that stood out but the actual changes made to the game of football. This game actually reminded me that special teams had a purpose — I forgot the feeling of running back a kickoff thinking that this might be the one that I take the distance. This is also pre-player safety. The hits are vicious and there are no ticky tack calls for roughing the passer or late hits. This brand of football is never coming back and with good reason.

Character Building.

This game has such immense depth to it. I spent hours building franchises, making blockbuster trades, and developing players. It never got stale.

The game is very much like an RPG: players have ratings in certain stats (speed, catching, blocking) which you can improve in training camp by successfully completing drills or by having the player do well in season. Every 5 or 6 games, the player is reviewed and additional points are added if they have been doing well statistically. Done right, you can build a super team over the accumulation of points to players stats from year to year.

This requires some foresight as you have to also balance players’ contracts. That WR you spent the past three years developing might be too expensive to keep. Also, players retire frequently (and without notice!) which can leave massive holes in your roster.

While there are some difficulties, the game is very much skewed towards the player. It is easy to max out certain stats like catching in DB drills making a formidable secondary and getting proficient on offense means every starter will be catapulted to 99 overall (the highest rating) in a few seasons.

But this is where the true magic of Madden comes in.

It’s Completely Rigged.

The better your team gets, the more wacky the game becomes. At one point every starter on my defense, with the exception of the d-line, was at a 95 or above. I had the nastiest secondary full of multiple future hall of famers (Charles Woodsen, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor). My linebacker core consisted of Lavar Arrington in his prime, Mike Barrow coached up, and Marcus Washington with pure speed. Everyone on the team was athletic, smart, and a top talent…

and sometimes it didn’t matter.

Lavar Arrington is in perfect position to intercept this pass, and what happens?

???? Or how about Charles Woodsen:

Perfect position for an interception, instead goes for a swat, and ultimately misses and allows T.O. to score a T.D.

This game is professionally rigged, and you can feel it in your very bones as you play. If you get too far out ahead, the game will put up every roadblock to try and keep the game close. They mostly do this through tripping up your defense; a 99 overall corner with top speed will fail to stay on top of a slower, less talented receiver for a deep-bomb.

My favorite memory was a shootout with my rival for the NFC East Championship. I started out with an insurmountable lead (I think it was 30 to 7), but you started to feel the shift. After a barrage of turnovers and touchdowns from defense and special teams, the game became razor thin…until I blew off the doors in the fourth quarter!

Wacky Madden is the Best Madden.

The superbowl for our three-peat ended in the same fashion but went in the opposite direction. The Patriots (your perennial opponent for the Super Bowl in Madden 05) jumped out to a 27 – 3 lead. Slowly, I clawed my way back in until it was an even game with under two minutes to go. However, Madden knew the fix was in as the Patriots did a calculated drive down the field against my 99-rated defense.

I performed some Tomfoolery by having as many players retreat before the ball was snapped so they could score easily and allow me to have some time to mount a comeback, but with only 27 seconds on the clock, there was not enough time to score the tying touchdown. I was completely exhausted after my fourth, and final season, as the WFT coach.

Here’s Charles Woodson letting me down one more time. A catch rating of 89 wasn’t enough, clearly.

[CONCLUSION]

This game is nothing short of exhilarating, even in defeat.

Other People’s Takes:

  • Dreager1: Different game use different methods to make hard difficulties more challenging. Some like Mario just speed up the timer, others like Final Fantasy will make the enemies more powerful. Madden takes a different approach, it simply makes you a lot weaker.
  • My Entertainment World: “Madden 2005 stands out from the rest as the best. This game has some great features that make the game feel real. It was also the last game to not have a silly QB look added yet.”
  • The Daily Mix Report: “This edition introduced some groundbreaking features like the often unrealistic “hit stick”. It was fitting with Ray Lewis on the cover to add a lot of freedoms to the defensive side such as making individual player adjustments, much like “hot routes”.

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