"EA Sports said their primary focal point this year was that Madden 2005 would be about defense. The first indication of that focal point was having Raven's star linebacker Ray Lewis grace the games cover. Just like Lewis, Madden 2005 packs a mighty blow when it comes to defensive game play enhancements. The new addition of the “Hit Stick” allows for defenders to lay the wood on opposing players carrying the rock. By tapping the right analog stick, it lets the defender put a devastating blow on the ball carrier or receiver trying to make the catch.
If you time it right, there is a good chance that the ball carrier will cough up the ball or a receiver will drop the pass. There are several different animations that occur depending on the timing and the angle of the hit. There is a downside. If you mistime your hit, the result could turn a sure tackle for minimal gain into a broken tackle that turns into a big gain for the offense. For example, I (Kobra) was playing Bert, when I decided to run a sweep with Jaguars Fred Taylor. It looked like I had the outside for a huge pick up, Bert decides to use the “Hit Stick” and make the tackle with Julius Peppers
. The next thing I know, Taylor lays the egg on the field and one of his players scoops it up and high steps in for a score, while laughing at me (Bert, not the player).
If the possibilities of the using “Hit Stick” doesn't get your heart pumping, here is some more new defensive additions to send you into a cardiac arrest. Defending Jet Packers this year shouldn't be a problem. I tried to jet pack Randy Moss several times and never got the same animations that have dominated Madden 2004. I'm not saying that you can't sky and snap a pass out of the air, but what I am saying is for those who relied only on Jet Packing on offense to move the ball, you either need to put the controller down for 2005 or you'd better learn to play real football. Jet Packing not going to get you very far. Something I noticed while lobbing the pass several times up to Moss was the defense reacted quicker and also the defenders got up in the air to knock pass down.
Another option that was added to defense for Madden 2005 was the ability to change individual defensive assignments. This year you can adjust any player's defensive assignment by using one of five defensive hot routes: zone, blitz, spying the QB, flat, or contain. For instance, say the linebacker is playing man cover, but you decide you want him to drop back zone. Just push up on the right analog stick and now he plays zone coverage. If you are playing against a team who has an athletic QB you can call a defense where the SS and ROLB are both blitzing. Now you can have both of those defenders spy the QB. So you go ahead and take control of the ROLB and push left on the R stick, now he is spying the QB, then you switch to the SS and do the same. Now both are spying the QB, making it hard for the QB to take off and run. Another option is to hit down twice on the R stick. This puts the defender in containment. What this means is the defender will not rush the QB initially, but will stay near the line of scrimmage to make sure the QB doesn't take off and run. This sounds a somewhat like QB Spy, but it's not. If the QB does not take off and run, then the defender will eventually rush the QB.
One of the offensive pass routes that has been a problem for years in Madden, is Circle routes ran by the backs out of the backfield. By using the new defensive hot routes, you can drop two defensive linemen into a short zone over the middle to help take away the Circle route options.Here's one more example, say you come out in 3-4 defense and the play does not have any defender covering the flat. So you decide you want the RE and LOLB to cover the flats. Press the R Stick to right while in control the RE, he now will cover the right flat, then take control of the LOLB and do the same. He now will cover the left flat. This allows you to cover the flats on the fly. To me this one addition to Madden 2005, will make playing defense fun, not the chore that has plagued the game is past versions of the game.
EA deserves credit for revolutionizing the way we will call defense in future video football games. Another option us gamers have been asking EA to do over the last several years was to give us the ability to put our defensive back on the opposing team's top receiver. This year you can. If you want to match up Champ Bailey on Randy Moss all game, no problem you need to go to Match Up Assignments and assign the player you want to cover the teams top receiver. Another great addition is the Man Lock On/Off option. If you call a defense where the RCB is in man coverage on the SE, but you don't want the RCB to follow the SE if set in motion, then just press straight down (you will hear click) on the right stick, it turns man lock off.
This means if the WR is sent in motion, the RCB will not follow the SE. This has to be done, before you call a defensive play. If you want man lock on, just push down on the L stick down before you call a defensive play and man lock is back on. This new option should be great for those who like to motion glitch all game long to move the ball. Being able to disguise Bump N Run pass coverage is still there. As a matter of fact, the EA rep we talked to said they loved it so much they decided to leave it in Madden 2005. Speaking of Bump-N-Run coverage, not all players will hold receivers as long as they did in Madden 2004. This year Bump-N-Run will be based on player ratings and animations. You will have more wins and losses in each Bump-n-Run opportunity. If a CB "wins", the WR will be locked up pretty strong. If a WR "wins", he will cause the CB to whiff on the jam and blow right by him.
Also for those who like to enhance zones, it's still in the game as well. EA added another coverage audible to Madden 2005. This coverage audible allows you to bring the safeties down all the way near the line of scrimmage. Here is how it's done. Press the Coverage audible button ( PS2 triangle button, then push the L stick to the right, this brings the safeties all the way down. If they arer in zone coverage they will drop back, if they are blitzing, then they will bring the heat. For those of you who run the Nickel Blitz, then call Bump-N-Run, then you should have a pretty good idea of what I am talking about. This new coverage audible allows for the defense to call it in any formation, not just the Nickel Blitz. One of the biggest requests we have seen that players wanted added to the defensive package system this year, was the ability to put a linebacker in at DE in passing situations. The guys at EA have heard those requests and have implemented it into the game. When calling plays from the Dime or Quarters defensive sets, you will have the option through the package system to put linebackers in at defensive end.
Here are so some more quick defensive bones to throw at you. This year, you cannot put defensive ends in at defensive tackle. That means getting pressure up the gut between the LG and C with a fast end isn't going to happen in Madden 2005. Another tactic we see players do while playing defense, is to audible down from a Quarters to a 4-3 defense. You can still do it, but here is the problem. The defensive player
ratings drop substantially during the play. The idea is keep player using this cheap tactic to cheat the AI. For now that's all on defense, but keep reading as we still have to cover new options on offense special teams and in franchise mode. Finally to wrap up our first day report on the defensive side of the ball, there may be one new defensive formation added to the game before its release, but that's not set in stone. For now we can tell you there are some new defensive plays such as Rams Buc Cover 2. With all the defensive options, Madden 2005 really looks like defenses win championships.
One new addition this year that was added to the offense was the ability for the receiver to change their route during the play. For instance say the SE is running a Hook route in the diagram, but he also has two dotted lines. One of those dotted lines has the SE running a Corner route, while the other dotted line has the WR running a Post route. If the QB was to rollout toward the left (as you look at the screen) the SE would break off the initial hook route and run a corner route to get open. Does this mean any WR will do this? The answer is no, it all depends on the players awareness. The higher the awareness, the better chance he will break off his route to get open.
The receiver will also adjust to the coverage. We have one example with Plax running a short 5 yard hitch. He also had an option release to a fly or inside skinny post. The defense played a Cover 2 zone with a man in the flat. Plax then released to the outside on the fly for the pass.
Madden has some new offensive sets and plays A few of the new sets are the Shotgun Five Wide Bunch, Strong I Tight, and Singleback 3TE. EA also added Formation Shift. What this does is allows for you to do change up your formation, without changing play. The Bucs run this type of motion a lot of the time. For instance, say you come out in the I-Form Big, but you decide you would rather have the TE2 line up at the SE position. If you don't want to change the play, just call the formation shift and the TE2 will line up as a SE without affecting the routes.
For those of you who use the HB Pass to pick up rushing yards, better rethink using it in 2005. This year once the ball is snapped the pass icon will come up. Here comes the kicker, you can't bring them back down and take off and run. This means you can't hit the speed burst button and take off and run. For those of you who want Goal Line passes added to Madden 2005, forget it, it won't happen. We didn't see any Goal Line PA plays either. Players who like to scramble and throw off balance will experience less accurate passes, depending on the QB's accuracy rating. If the QB drops 20-30 yards back, his accuracy and throwing power rating will suffer.
First off let me say, the FG Punt Block is gone. No more blocking extra points or field goals from the punt block formation. With that out of the way let talk about two other things we seen added or subtracted from special teams. In Madden 2005, you have the option to call three different punt block formations, normal, zone, and man. EA decided if you call onside kick, you can't adjust the kicking direction. That's right, no moving the kicking direction up or down or side to side. This means the onside glitch is totally gone. There will be no getting onside kicks 4 out 5 times a game. They have also added a squib kick option for the kickoff.
Madden over the last few years just gets better and better...2005 is no exception. This year teams will have preseason battles. For instance say you draft a rookie stud QB, but you also have an ageing veteran on your team. During preseason, the two will battle it out to see who starts during the regular season. The player with the best stats will win the default starting job. You can still replace him with the other player, but he will suffer a major morale loss and lose rating points.
You will find restricted free agents and franchise tags. Free agency during the off season has been rebuilt from the ground up. Having a free agent sign with you involves 15-20 different factors. For example, a veteran will look for a team with better chances of contending over a team offering a higher pay day. By the same token, a young player with lots of years left in his career will often op for the dough. Trading or releasing a top or well respected player, will bring the teams overall morale down. For example when the Patriots released safety Lawyer Milloy last year, the team morale dropped and they ultimately were blown out in week 1 by the Bills. Of course the following weeks the team played well, but still the news of Milloy being released hurt the team in the first. Those same results could also happen to your team in Madden 2005 if you release the wrong player. Things that you do to players on the team, will effect the morale of other places and either raise or lower their ratings. If you put a favored player on the trading block, ratings will suffer. If you put a no-namer on the trading block, it will have very little effect.
EA has added Newspaper and Sports to Madden 2005. There will 20,000 different story lines to choose from. As of right now there are 19,043 stories. Tony Bruno of Fox Sports Radio will have several different commentaries when talking about each game. There also will be a new sideline reporter gracing the cyber sidelines. Her name is Jill Arrington. Another great addition added to this year's franchise mode is how much good and bad coaches impact team performances. Say for instance you sign a Bill Parcells to coach the Arizona Cardinals
. Even though the Cards may not be a great team on paper, the presence of Parcells will have a serious impact on how the teams overall performance is week in and week out (rating boost). On the flip side of the coin if you hire a bad coach on a good team chances are that team will become just average during the season. Player ratings will adjust also during each week, which is something many franchise players have been wanting for years. Stay tuned tomorrow for another update as we dive into the gameplay even deeer.
Day 2 Impressions
Not as much stuff today as we really hit the game hard yesterday. We still have a couple of things that we want to share with you guys.
In addition to the standard line shifts of left, right, pinch and spread, EA Sports has also added the ability to change the rushing patterns of the defensive line at the line of scrimmage. Using the L1 button and the right analog stick (PS2 & Xbox), you can cause the defensive line to rush in 1 of four ways. The options include crash left, crash right, rush in a spread pattern, and rush all slanting in. We haven't had a chance to test this for ourselves, but will do so tomorrow.
QB's move at normal speed behind the line of scrimmage. Last year you may have noticed how slowly the QB moved behind the line of scrimmage when the passing icons were up. This has been adjusted this year so that the QB moves at regular speed. This makes for a more realistic QB experience, but with the new containment logic by the defense, this shouldn't result in an overbalance. Now the defense functions as more of a unit. If you drop the QB back and roll out to the right, the whole defensive line doesn't follow. You may remember having a pack of defenders mirroring the QB from left to right if you ran around in the backfield. Now they work in more of a tandem partnership so they don't get as far out of position. With the new containment pre-snap option, stopping Vick should be more possible this season.
We tried the squib kick option out today. It is pretty wicked right now as the ball takes some pretty lethal bounces. Many times the kicking team was able to recover the ball before we could get there. Don't get all freaked out yet. We have been assured by the design team that this feature is being heavily tweaked and won't be like that in the final build."
Sounds fun, can't wait!!!!