Originally posted by latinlawyer@May 3 2004, 02:50 PM Madden. Better game play and control. Espn...has nicer graphics but not as good game play.
Madden Online is great!
Hey guys, 1st time poster but long time reader. Felt this was the best time to say something, esp when it comes the MADDEN vs ESPN debate.
I know you all are talking about ps2 and xbox games but have you played MADDEN on a computer with an incredible video card? If not, you are missing out big time. The game is by far the best. Plus the online game is the best, ESPN had problems with there servers last year..
MADDEN ROCKS in every which way!
April 30, 2004 - Chris Berman finishes talking over a series of rumblin', bumblin', stumblin' highlights where Curtis "My Favorite" Martin scores the game winning touchdown. As the replay ends, Berman kicks it down to Suzy Kolber for a postgame interview. In the background, you can still hear the chanting crowd: "J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!" With no Broadway Joe in sight, Suzy is safe to proceed, asking Martin about the game, and the Jets runner gives a few shout-outs before sprinting back to the locker room.
While this scenario seems like any typical Sunday, it isn't. In fact, it could be any day of the week. All you need is an Xbox or a PS2. That's right. This is exactly what's going to happen in ESPN Videogames' new football title, ESPN NFL 2005. Only thing is, it's not the real Boomer, Suzy, or Martin, it's their virtual stand-ins. Polygonal representations of a situation that happens after every game in real life, but has never been replicated in a video game…until now.
This is just an example of the type of broadcast-style presentation ESPN NFL 2005 is shooting for, and we haven't even gotten to the good stuff yet.
What could be better than cyber Suzy you might ask. Well, if you're Joe Namath, not much. But if you're a video game fanatic looking for some of the most groundbreaking enhancements seen to the genre, then sit back and bring some smelling salts, because the additions ESPN Videogames is talking about adding to this year's game might leave you laid out like you just took a blindside hit from The Freak.
Now let's head back into the studio of The Franchise Show as Boomer hands-off to Trey Wingo who's here to talk about all of the week's news, including trades, signings, cuts, and retirements. If you want to know about something that happened in this week's franchise, Wingo is your man. Later, Boomer's back with highlights from every game of the week, including yours (PS2 owners will need a hard drive, or instead of highlights, you'll get still pictures for your game).
But the show's not over.
Starting around Week 8 of your franchise, a special guest will visit the studio, draft expert Mel Kiper. Using 100's of portraits of NFL players and blending them together, ESPN 2005 will put faces to the names of fictitious rookies about to enter the draft, and Kiper is the man to help hype and sort out the ballers from the fallers. Every rookie will have his own face and name that Kiper recorded, so the virtual Kiper will break down the draft by position during The Franchise Show. He might start pumping up some running back named Bill Johnson from Ohio State or wideout Jon Hopkins from Stanford, and after you continue hearing how great these guys are for weeks, you start to get pumped up to add them to your team. Mel will even beak down what happens at the rookie combine and how each player performed, giving you, for the first time, a real reason to draft these made-up players, and turning the draft into more of the spectacle it is in real life.
But the additions to Franchise aren't all just talking polygons. In fact, there are three pretty significant features that will help further the Franchise experience.
The first feature is called Weekly Preparation. In the NFL, the fans see what happens every Sunday, but it's not like the team takes the rest of the week off to participate in dating shows and high-stakes card games. Okay, bad examples, but the players and coaches work diligently week in and week out to prepare for Sunday, and now you will have a hand in this preparation.
The week starts with you setting the tone of your head coach's weekly press conference and team meetings. You check out the scouting report on your next opponent, then decide what film needs to be watched by your coaches and players. If playing as the 49ers, for example, you can tell your assistant coaches to watch film of the opposing defensive backs, either by players or formations. You can then bring in individual players like Brandon Lloyd to watch film on a specific corner, or you can bring in your entire wide receiver corps. You then train this group or player through exercise/training programs to help increase their attributes. You can even choose whether or not you want to give your players a day off. Everything you do not only takes time off of the clock, but affects player attribute points. Heading into a week where you know you'll need a big passing game, you can actually increase a player like B-Lloyd's attributes by up to six points. Don't give him a day off, and yeah, he might be able to train more, but he could also become more fatigued during Sunday's game. If you're not into micromanagement, you can simply setup the week ahead of time and simulate all of the actions at once. Otherwise, it's up to you who trains for what and when, and how that will affect next week's game. At the end of the preparations, you'll see a results page showing the attribute gains of your players throughout the week. And if you think this won't affect gameplay, imagine the difference between a player with a rating of 90 versus a 96, or even an 80 to an 86. This preparation will affect each and every game you play in Franchise, and is a refreshing take on a subject that's been mostly ignored to this point.
The second Franchise addition is a visual simulator. Think ESPN's Gamecast Live with a video game twist. 49er ball, run, pass, run, punt. You can watch what happens in a speedy simulation, meanwhile adjusting your sliders to affect the game. If you don't like how the computer is controlling your team, or if it's the last drive of the game and you need a touchdown, you can then jump in and play the remainder of the contest. The producer of the game still wasn't sure if you'd be able to jump back into the Gamecast once you start to play, but it's an issue they're working on.
The third improvement to Franchise comes in the name of contract signings. You can now finally setup contracts on a year-per-year basis, even including signing bonuses into the mix to make this portion of the game more realistic. This will also enable virtual owners and GM's the ability to try and manipulate the salary cap more toward their advantage, back-loading contracts so that you can sign that one free agent who could potentially lead your team to Super Bowl glory.
And while all of the improvements to Franchise are exciting, if the gameplay itself wasn't worth playing, all you'd be left with is one of those "looks good on paper" teams. Luckily for gamers, it looks like ESPN NFL 2005 is poised to play at the same high-quality as its list of features.
The biggest new gameplay addition is Maximum Tackle. If you hold the tackle button, your player will attempt a textbook wrap-up. Tap the button, however, and you'll unload with a dynamic hit, blasting the ball carrier toward the turf and increasing the chances for injuries and fumbles. This will enable fast-fingered defenders to even combo the tackle, wrapping up the runner with his first player, then switching defenders and fly in for the fiercer blow. Maximum Tackle is a two-sided feature, however, as it also works for the ball carrier, in the all new, "you're never down until you're down" scenario (not that we needed any more broken tackles after last year, but ESPN Videogames promises they're working on the issue). The Maximum Tackle broken tackles are more of players stumbling out from defender's grasps then either breaking free or falling facemask first. It should lead to more seamless blends of broken tackles, and not the free-for-all that was the 2004 game.
Speaking of running with the ball, the game will also feature all-new run animations, including spins, jukes, cuts, and plants. Forget the days of the joystick jockey running full speed to the left, then breaking back right without slowing down. This season, you'll actually see as a player plants his foot, then cuts back the other direction, slowing down just like a real runner would. The dynamic weather will also become more of a factor, as it's easy for a guy like Clinton Portis to make his cut on dry turf, but if he tries to make too harsh of a cut in the snow or rain, he might end up falling on his ass.
Another addition is the new Quarterback Evade button. If you thought Michael Vick was dangerous in last year's game, now he's even going to be more difficult to get your hands on. Tap the right analog stick as a defender flies toward you and watch as your quarterback ducks or steps up in the pocket to clear room for a throw. The more agile the quarterback, the better he'll be at evading the rush. Sounds like another year of Falcon video game dominance.
Play calling has also received an upgrade, as the game will keep track of every play you choose, and the plays you use more than once will be put into a Favorite Plays column for you to easily scroll through and select. To top things off, there will be more trick plays in this year's playbook, and you'll see the addition of more team and coach specific plays, like the new Redskin Joe Gibbs plays.
If you were a fan of the Cribs feature the game offered last year, you'll be happy to know that this year's pimped-out room will be tree times bigger. This year, it will even involve an economy to unlock special items, whereas you earn points for accomplishing different goals, then it's up to you on what you want to spend your points on. There will be catalogues and catalogues of items to buy, including new mini-games like a dartboard and shuffleboard, there will be a placement system for you to hang posters and trophies, and you will even be able to unlock touchdown celebrations that you can then assign to your players before a game. That's right, ESPN is about to take custom celebrations to an unheard of level, as you begin the game with 40 selectable dances from the worm to the slam dunk. Like I said, you can then assign different dances to different face buttons and bust-a-move on your opponent from the end zone. Buy new dances with your points, then use them late in games to further humiliate opponents.
Last year's other huge, and probably most talked about feature was First-Person Football. Gimmick or gem, it's not going away. This year, you'll be able to switch between first and third-person games at will. So if you want to run a few plays through the eyes of Eli to see what he sees in the pocket, it's up to you. Unlike Manning, however, if you don't like what you see, you have the opportunity to at least switch back. To help the virtual Mannings of the gaming world, the first-person passing game has also been revamped. Passing will now incorporate a progression system where you'll automatically look at the primary target, then by clicking the right analog stick, you can work your way through the series of progressions. If you liked passing the ball the old way, you will still have that option as well.
To make you feel even more like an actual NFL player, ESPN Videogames worked in conjunction with Dolby Labs to completely redo the sound. Those with a 3D sound system will now be able to hear different sounds generating from different speakers in your setup. This will work for all aspects of the game, but First-Person Football should benefit the most as you will now be able to hear footsteps of people behind you as opposed to simply hearing the rustling of a random player close to the action.
And since this year is ESPN's 25th anniversary, ESPN NFL 2005 will celebrate with fans by offering a new mode enabling you to relive the top 25 NFL games of the past 25 years. With an intro from Chris Berman where he actually talks about the games and the players of old, like John Taylor's Super Bowl winning catch from Joe Montana. The only thing is, once you play the game, there is no mention of Joe Montana or Taylor, only a vague likeness to the personalities and abilities of yesteryear. The cool part is, though, that there is a player editor, so you can easily just plug in the correct names and numbers when you get a chance. This mode gives you the chance to change or relive history, dropping you into the critical situation of the game, and letting your skills decide what happens.
If that's not enough, ESPN NFL will also incorporate living rosters into online play. So now, not only will you be able to play in leagues and tournaments with friends, but you will also be able to make trades, track injuries, and even check out all of your stats and schedules on the Web. In fact, everything you can track in season mode you will also be able to track online. But it's the living rosters addition that will make hardcore fans smile. Trading players with friends is one thing, but then to actually see it incorporated into your league, that's the kind of online functionality gamers have been dreaming about.
So now you know about the new features, but there's still a word or two (maybe a couple hundred) about the graphics. ESPN rewrote the entire graphics library for the Xbox version of the game for 2005. That's right, started from scratch. The reason is simple: Every year the game was designed with the PS2 as the lead platform, then ported over to the Xbox. This move obviously didn't take advantage of the Xbox's superior graphics engine, so this year, the Xbox version was designed as the lead SKU, enabling the designers of the game push the Xbox engine to the max.
The new graphics engine incorporates a technique called Triple Pass Rendering. Instead of just molding a player onto a skeleton, Triple Pass Rendering takes into account everything from the wrinkles in the jersey to the flexing of muscles. Normal maps utilize geometry to show creases in the uniform in a more natural, not drawn in way. Then the light map is added to enhance the overall look of both the textures and player models. Combine those two elements with the new muscle rig system, and you will actually notice the muscles on players arms flex as they grab the ball and maneuver smoothly down the field.
Another addition to the overall look of the game is the addition of all new cut scenes. Last year, there were only about 40 of these cut scenes, and while they looked cool at first, the majority of gamers simply ended up buttoning past them after a few games. This year expect over 200 new cut scenes to add more variety, including scenes from the locker room to fans tailgating in the parking lots before games.
Dirt off your Shoulder
Can you hear it? There they are again. They're the footsteps closing in on Madden. Could this be the year where the big man is finally sacked at his own game?
We'll have to wait and see what EA Sports has left to counter this overwhelming list of new features from ESPN.
One thing's for sure, though. At the rate both games keep improving, this could be the best year for football video games in the history of the genre.
Click on the media link at the bottom of the page to check out the first screens of ESPN NFL 2005 along with an all new video of rumored cover athlete Terrell Owens as he cuts and jukes his way down the field. Only thing missing is the Sharpie.