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Monday August 23, 2004 1:25 pm

Head to Head: Madden 2005 vs. ESPN NFL 2K5

Madden 2005 vs. versus ESPN NFL 2K5With the recent release of the latest iterations of two great football games, many a gamer has pondered which offered the better play experience. Of course, Madden is the old time favorite having been around for over a decade - however, Sega (now using the ESPN brand) has released a superb game at a value price. Which is better? Gear Live contributing reporter Edwin Soto takes both games for a spin to provide some insight.


It's hard to believe that it's that time of year again. The time where devoted fans of their franchise start to tell you which football game they own and all the reasons why they know it's so much better than yours. So who is it this year? Well let's start by stating who it isn't: 989 Sports and Midway. Both developers dropped out of the football race this year. Their arcade-style games (NFL Gameday and NFL Blitz), have been popular in the past, but not nearly as much as the big boys that they left behind this year. Sewing their hearts onto their shoulder pads, both Madden and ESPN have a lot to offer. The following is a breakdown of some of the aspects that identify how different these two are. So how will you decide?

ESPN NFL 2K5 Touchdown XBOX

Graphically, both games have improved their player models to the point where I can see wrinkles! ESPN's 2k5 is a masterpiece of animated splendor. The animations go unparalleled by sports games today. The tackles are precise and coincide with whatever position the players are in. Your QB's motions in the pocket are smooth. In previous versions of this title, the ball would go from a straight line that it is thrown in and magically land in a receiver's hands. There's only realistic magic here. If you man is running on target to the football and his hands are ready, expect a completion. However, if his back is turned or there's a defender's arm in the way, expect realistic physics-no catch buddy.

Madden 2005 Tackle

Madden handles graphics in generally the same way except for a few differences. First, let me say how beautiful the textures are displayed in Madden. They are so very well detailed, too well detailed. The farther back you zoom out the more problems there are with textures. Considering you do a lot of zooming out to check defensive zones, check your plays, move your "D" around, it can become very noticeable. Although this isn't a huge loss, it is one of the aspects of the game that can take away from the realistic experience (if your looking for that). I also found that the QB can sometimes look more like a contortionist rather than a quarterback. Arms begin to move in funny ways and seem like they are attached to the shoulder pad directly. This is also just a minor setback, but again, it takes away from the experience.

Winner: ESPN 2K5

Two games with fantastic control schemes. Both have in-depth controls for both offense and defense. ESPN's play calling controls work very well for those whom are playing against a friend (or on XBOX Live), as you can fool your opponent into thinking that you've chosen a particular play when in fact you chose a play that's not even on the screen anymore (pretty handy, eh). You can do this by simply holding on to the button that the play is assigned to while still scrolling through the playbook, then just let go to choose the play that you had originally chosen.

First Person Football adds to the fun factor in simulating that you are actually on the field. There's nothing like seeing yourself demolish a QB into a sack from the helmet, or make that big interception, or even go for that 40 yard run through the defense. However, this is just about the extent of the fun, and really doesn't hold any replay value (and to add it is incredibly hard to make completions this way).

Madden 2005 Diving Catch

The only other notable difference, in ESPN's controls is the QB's "in the pocket" maneuvers. You can use the right thumbstick to dodge any incoming defenders trying to sack you. Madden's defensive controls: where this game takes on a new life. Remember the playmaker controls in previous Maddens? They are back, except on defense this time around. The use of the right thumbstick to execute devastating tackles is nothing short of perfect. This really makes the opponent think about toning down that passing game a bit. I was amazed at how much I really used this feature and how neutralizing it can be. This really makes the game more immersive and gives you what you want: control. I really hope that this continues to be a staple in future Maddens.

Winner: Madden 2005

NFL 2K5 Tackle

Sound had been important in football since the beginning. There is no major improvement in the sound effects in general. The new insults are nice though. Both games do this flawlessly. The commentary is great in both games but as usual, it gets a bit stale. So what can you possibly improve on in this category? ESPN's got it. How about custom stadium music? How is it custom? Utilizing the soundtrack feature on the XBOX you can actually manipulate your music to play specific clips at specific events in the game, such as a home team interception. You can create playlists for your jukebox at your crib (more on that later). Unfortunately, Madden does not take advantage of any of these features. However, at least blubbo himself is still doing the commentating.

Winner: ESPN 2K5

How great are these games? How long can you play them? Forever. The franchise modes go well into both games. While ESPN gives you the option to plan your week full of things to assign to you players by team or position, Madden's news clips and trading system are flawless. ESPN gives you a "Crib" to use for every profile you make. Here you can unlock things by passing certain milestones and buy stuff for your crib using crib credits you gain during gameplay. But this is not really at all useful except for unlocking players and cheats. But it's cool to have a crib full of trophies.

Winner: Tie

Madden 2005 Running

There's no comparison between these two. Although EA's Madden puts forth a valiant effort, Sega Sports really did their homework and put out a fantastic football game. Did I mention it's only $20? Why even bother getting anything else (unless you're made of money). In that case, by all means, go and get Madden too (although I must say after playing both games at the same time the controls got confusing).


- Edwin Soto

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