Universal acclaim - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 42 out of 42
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 42
  3. Negative: 0 out of 42
Buy On
  1. 94
    Are you kidding me? This game rivals "Madden" in every way and surpasses it in feature set... and it's only twenty dollars. Plus, it's out three weeks ahead of "Madden." Fans of the series will love the improvements and continue to sing its praises.
  2. For all of its excellent modes and gameplay, however, ESPN NFL 2K5's greatest asset comes in the form of its graphics. Hands down, flat out, undeniably, inarguably, this is the best-looking football game ever made.
  3. Don't just get this game because it's 20 bucks, buy it becuase it's the best football title there is and the only one that's a must have. [Sept 2004, p.100]
  4. No other type of sports games requires such strategy while under pressure. Online leagues and tournaments are an improvement over XSN's online leagues, but are still in their fledgling stage.
  5. The good parts of ESPN far outweigh the bad and combine to make one of the most satisfying and challenging sports games ever. It's such a steal you might want to wear a ski mask to the store – just in case.
  6. 90
    It has great graphics, exciting gameplay, and a solid online mode. If you can skip over the slightly gimmicky modes and stick to the excellent Franchise mode, you'll be happy that you whipped Mr. Jackson out at the game store.
  7. It does a nice job offering a much cheaper alternative without sacrificing too much quality. It's just a shame that the online play is broken, though I suppose you get what you pay for after all.
  8. 100
    This year, the design guys as Visual Concepts have turned ESPN NFL 2K5 into the most entertaining show in video-game football. [Sept 2004, p.98]
  9. 85
    As it stands now, ESPN looks better, but it doesn't feel better. It's pleather not leather, nutri-sweet not sugar, and that's not going to get them far in the long run.
  10. Sure, there are thousands of die-hard Madden fans who will remain in denial and line-up for their copy of "Madden 2005" like the Lemmings they are, but anyone who plays ESPN NFL 2K5 will know the truth after their very first game.
  11. If you happen to be a fan of football, even if you bow down to the altar of "Madden", you should go out and buy 2K5 simply because this is a great simulation of football.
  12. While the game is too easy on Pro and very difficult on All-Pro, some slider adjustments can help the situation.
  13. In a move that shows that the designers had far too much free time on their hands, each of the bobble head dolls can be manipulated and bobbled, just like in real life. Hell, I'd pay $20 for this aspect alone.
  14. 80
    NFL 2K5 has leveled the field of play significantly with its wallet-friendly price and killer presentation.
  15. Official Xbox Magazine
    Not only is ESPN an outrageously inexpensive AAA-level game, it's also the best NFL title on the Xbox at any price. [Sept 2004, p.83]
  16. Play Magazine
    For a mere $20, Sega's game is every bit as deep, feature-rich and addictive as EA's powerhouse. I'm not saying that 2K5 is better than "Madden"...but it's just as good - no joke. [Sept 2004, p.84]
  17. Electronic Gaming Monthly
    ESPN's franchise mode is much improved, but I'm not entirely sold in its biggest addition, Weekly Prep, either. [Sept 2004, p.94]
  18. 90
    With unparalleled visuals, a deep franchise mode, and tons of new and improved features, "Madden" is facing a 4th and very, very long this year.
  19. The best football video game of 2004.
  20. A few less than spectacular extra features complete the package. Worth mention only for reference these include annoying celebrity matches, and a frustrating ESPN 25th anniversary mode, where the top 25 plays in football are reenacted by the player.
  21. ESPN NFL 2K5 has the best graphics that I have witnessed in a sports game to date... The V.I.P system is the coolest thing since controllers with shoulder buttons.
  22. It trounces "Madden" in nearly every in-game and out-of-game aspect. And since "Madden" is a newbie to the Xbox Live arena, ESPN's Live support, replete with fully customizable leagues and comprehensive player profiles, it is simply unmatched.
  23. I have found almost NOTHING wrong or flawed in NFL 2K5. It is what I would consider right now the perfect Football game. It is a must have game.
  24. The best sports game I have ever played. The graphics, immersion, and mechanics are all near-perfect.
  25. 90
    The replay value in this game is phenomenal. What other game includes online play, all the modes like Practice, Quick Game, Tournament, Situation, and Franchise, the brand new VIP addition, ability to add in your own music, and team preparation? Better yet what other game does all that for only $20?
  26. Besides the online problems, that are getting better, the game is one of the best football games ever made.
  27. netjak
    Worth noting is that ESPN NFL 2K5 is one of the few third-party games to take advantage of the Xbox's custom soundtracks, and it even goes a step further by allowing the player to set up Stadium Music that plays at certain points in a game, such as when the home team scores a touchdown or forces an interception.
  28. The few rare problems in this game are able to go unnoticed without a second thought. For any true football fan that doesn't own this game, you should feel very empty inside...very, very empty.
  29. Plain and simple, ESPN NFL 2K5 is Sega's best football game to date.
  30. 80
    Where Madden's defensive co-ordination has been tightened up, ESPN's is a little slacker, with offensives able to turn up the heat on the occasionally sleepy and slow rearguard with little effort.
  31. The decision to take out LIVE compatibility is a major downer, but don't let that prevent you from playing one of the most superb NFL games on the market.
  32. But the graphics and game play have been juiced up, too, with improved passing, a slightly tougher running game, and lots of combo-move action via manipulation of the right analog stick.
  33. Xbox Nation Magazine
    The single most glaring problem with the crowd A.I. The audience is just flat-out stupid, and this is terribly unfortunate because it distracts from what would otherwise be a totally immersive NFL gaming experience. [Sept 2004, p.86]
  34. 85
    A title which a lot of Australians will have fun with. A lot of gamers here are curious about American Football with the hype, big hits and spectacular plays but get turned off by the strategies in which ESPN NFL 2005 will be a perfect match.
  35. Without doubt the best game of this genre, ever.
  36. 100
    The biggest advancement is the VIP system, which studies your habits on the field and develops a profile based on how you play the game.
  37. 95
    Outclasses "Madden NFL 2005" in all areas except for Franchise, but I would rather have the game that is simply more fun to play than having my eyes glare at stat menus for hours on end since that is what matters the most in a football game to me.
  38. You just never know how the AI will react, but at least they do take the timeouts and run the hurry up offense when they are down. It doesn't play dumb. In fact, the AI will go into a no-huddle offense, just to throw you off occasionally. How cool is that!!
  39. Where NFL 2K5 really shines from an Australian perspective, however, is that it really nails the TV presentation aspect.
  40. My jaw dropped when I saw the Raiders white road jerseys, the shadows and player models and even the animation. This game looks absolutely stunning and is the best looking football game have ever seen.
  41. ESPN NFL 2K5 is the single greatest football game ever made. Even with a $49.99 price tag, this game would surely have been a huge seller. However, the $20 price makes this game a steal.
  42. A great game. It just has an arcadey feel to it, but I guess Sega is trying to appeal to the common user and not the hardcore football fan.

Awards & Rankings

#4 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2004
#9 Most Shared Xbox Game of 2004
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 94 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 84 out of 94
  2. Negative: 6 out of 94
  1. Jan 18, 2014
    Still the best football game to date. To think that this came out 9 years ago for only 20 dollars... wow.
    Graphics were ahead of its time.
    Still the best football game to date. To think that this came out 9 years ago for only 20 dollars... wow.
    Graphics were ahead of its time.
    Gameplay wasn't the best, but for 2005, it was fantastic.
    CPU AI and teammate AI was more intelligent than any Madden.
    ESPN presentation, pregame-halftime and postgame show, player interviews and Sportscenter weekly wrap ups still = the best presentation in a sports game.
    Even though the announcers are fictional, they are still great.
    The "Crib" is still one of the coolest features in a sports game... if only 2K would add that to NBA 2K...

    All in all, the greatest football (and maybe sports) game ever.
    Full Review »
  2. Dec 27, 2013
    This has got to be the greatest football to todays date. Amazing graphics for its time. gameplay is fast and in a good way unpredictable.This has got to be the greatest football to todays date. Amazing graphics for its time. gameplay is fast and in a good way unpredictable. running the ball and shoulder charging ppl is so satisfying. Full Review »
  3. Mar 27, 2011
    Even after all these years, this stands the time as one of the best football games ever made. The presentation is unparalleled and the game isEven after all these years, this stands the time as one of the best football games ever made. The presentation is unparalleled and the game is so packed with features that it still has life nearly 7 years after its initial release. ESPN NFL 2K5 is our generation's Tecmo Bowl. Full Review »