Longtime GBA Madden fans will notice a few cosmetic improvements when they first fire up Madden NFL 2005. The playbook interface now looks more like the interface used in the recent console versions, instead of the one used in the decades-old Sega Genesis Madden games. The variety of different player animations hasn't changed since last year's game--there are still dozens of them--but the camera viewpoint has been pulled back and player bodies have been slimmed down, which makes the action more realistic and easier to follow. When you really dig into the game, you'll discover that Madden NFL 2005 is much more than just a cosmetic rehash of Madden NFL 2004. It's a complete overhaul, with better artificial intelligence, customizable skill settings, and a greater degree of control over play calling.
The Madden NFL 2005 playbook contains more than 400 offensive and defensive plays.
Console Madden games have had adjustable skill settings for years. Madden NFL 2005 is the first GBA version of the franchise to include such a feature. In addition to being able to pick from four general difficulty settings, you can now tweak the CPU's skill in 18 specific offensive and defensive categories. Sliders allow you to adjust settings such as coaching aggressiveness, run-pass ratio, interception ability, and QB accuracy in your favor (or out of it) by moving a tick mark left or right. The frequency with which referees call various penalties can also be adjusted.
The playbook interface received a makeover as well, but, more importantly, the process of surveying the line of scrimmage and invoking audibles on the fly was made easier. Now, before the snap is made, you can pull back the camera to get a bird's-eye view of the entire line of scrimmage, instead of just the five or six players huddled in the middle (like last year). If you don't like how the opponent is lined up, you can use one of your audibles to change the play you want to run. Basically, audibles are a feature of the playbook that allows you to assign a specific play to each button before the game starts. Madden NFL 2004 provided a very short time window for calling audible plays. In Madden NFL 2005, you can call one right before the snap is made and for a few seconds after a play ends. In general, selecting and running plays is much easier in Madden NFL 2005 because the graphical diagrams in the playbook now actually show the exact routes receivers will take during each play.
One thing that hasn't changed much is how the game plays. Before the snap, you can use the A button to cycle between players at the line. After the snap, the iconic passing system lets you toss the ball from the quarterback to one of four preset receivers using the GBA's button array. On defense, you can make your linemen sprint, jump, and leap. Whether an interception or a tackle happens depends on where your player is in respect to the ball and the opposing receiver. On offense, the GBA's button layout lets you tell your receivers and running backs to sprint, dive, spin, and juke. The CPU in Madden NFL 2005 is more aggressive than it has been in previous Madden games. On offense, the computer is better at finding open receivers and spinning through holes in the defense. On defense, the GBA-controlled player puts more pressure on the quarterback and does a better job of guiding its defenders to where a pass will end up. Although the AI is smarter in this latest game, it doesn't cheat. Most of these changes just mean you'll need to get rid of the ball faster.