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Madden NFL 25 review

Great
AT A GLANCE
  • Powerful running game
  • Moving your franchise
  • Being a historical player
  • Occasionally bizarre physics
  • Too many interceptions
  • Rather ordinary commentary

There are moments when Madden NFL 25 is awesome. Thanks to long-needed improvements in key areas, every type of football philosophy can be successful this season. Want to pound the ball up the middle? No problem. Feel like being a mad bomber? Fire away. By taking the time to learn Madden’s intricacies, you can run like Lombardi or throw like Coryell all the way to the Super Bowl. There are also moments, unfortunately, when Madden is incredibly aggravating. Occasional technical glitches, quirky AI, and bizarre physics behavior give players a sense that it’s close to coming apart at the seams. Madden NFL 25 is the best effort yet this console generation, though no sports franchise feels as desperate for the promise of the next one.

The best, and most-needed, improvement this year is the interior running attack. Run blocking has been upgraded to allow backs to better see developing holes and exploiting them without as much potential of getting twisted around their own teammates. Because you can consistently generate positive yardage pounding the ball inside, the entire game management process is now more realistic; by forcing the defense to key on interior running, more options become available down the field. Basic Football 101 has finally come to Madden.

"Madden NFL 25 is the best effort yet this console generation..."

Longtime players will have a lot to learn and plenty of habits to break. New running controls executed with the left trigger allow for powerful trucks and jukes that, when timed properly, can be devastatingly effective. The whole notion of “hit turbo as soon as you get the ball” has been turned on its ear with the new controls, as they actually serve to slow the runner down as to prepare for the precision action. They are disconcerting at first but, with some practice, lead to some really fun destruction of hapless defenders.

The modified truck moves stand out in particular, not just because they lead to valuable yardage but also because of their sheer violence. In slow motion, you see just how viciously a running back cracks the helmets of would-be tacklers. On the other hand, the modified jukes can make your runner sometimes pinball crazily in an unworldly way. Spin moves also remain clumsy in many situations; the animation times are very long, and more often than not the runner winds up in a worse position at the end of a spin than at the start.

"...though no sports franchise feels as desperate for the promise of the next one."

While running can be dramatically different this season should you choose to engage the new controls, the rest of the on-field action feels comfortably familiar. There are some important modifications to the passing game, such as position-specific hot routes, but you can still exploit curls against backed-off corners and drags against the press. Interception rates are still high, too; you will pay dearly for poor decisions. On defense, the best philosophy is still choosing man coverage over rather ineffective zones, although both can be successful in the right circumstance. Even though it can feel like playing defense is simply “pressing a button and hoping for the best,” there will be moments when a correctly called tactic--such as guessing the right play type and direction on a key goal-line possession--reminds you that being smart and taking calculated risks is still vitally important.

Madden’s presentation is also hit and miss. The updated Infinity Engine allows for some superb tackles and interaction between players in motion but unfortunately there are plenty of “uncanny valley” moments too. Awkward body movements and strange behaviors will have you doing double takes. Conversely, the wear and tear that helmets, uniforms, and grass fields take over the course of a game is excellent, as you can really tell who’s been sacrificing their body versus who’s been left mostly on the sidelines. The second year of Phil Simms and Jim Nantz doing commentary is fairly bland, and while the pair is infinitely better than the abomination of two seasons ago, you’ll start to hear repeats and exaggerations almost immediately. Sorry, Jim, but a preseason tilt is not a game “you’ll remember forever.”

The newly renamed Connected Franchise mode is really three game variations in one, allowing you to experience the NFL as a player, coach, or--new to this season--an owner. As the owner, you not only control rosters, games, and the entire coaching staff, but you get to micro-manage everything about the stadium’s infrastructure (parking, seats, bathrooms, concessions, etc.), the team’s marketing plans, and other necessities of the business. You can also move the club entirely, which is devilishly fun. While managing the price of hoagies and jerseys will not appeal to everyone, successful navigation of your finances will put you in position to get improved coaches and training staff, directly translating into better chances to win.

"When compared to releases from two and three years ago is light years ahead in terms of on-field quality and off-field activities."

One of the niftiest aspects of Connected Franchise is player progression. Gaining experience points (XP) as you play practices and games, then allocating those points to the attributes of each player, is addictive. Perhaps the most underappreciated feature in Connected Franchise is re-living the career of a historic player (and there is a healthy selection of them to choose from). Dropping Randall Cunningham into the modern-day Cleveland Browns as a rookie, for example, then using XP to increase his abilities as a season progresses is one of the hidden gems of Madden NFL 25.

Madden’s detractors often, and incorrectly, refer to its annual release as a “roster update.” Madden NFL 25 is anything but; it’s better than last season’s solid effort, and when compared to releases from two and three years ago is light years ahead in terms of on-field quality and off-field activities. While Madden may be burdened by relying on a core engine that is creaking under the weight of everything the development team is putting on top of it--and can’t quite seem to come up with a combination of gameplay and presentation smoothness that counterparts such as MLB: The Show or NBA 2K do--it scratches that football itch quite nicely this season.

This review was conducted using the Xbox 360 version of the game.

More Info

Release date: Nov 15 2013 - PS4
Aug 27 2013 - PS3, Xbox 360
Nov 22 2013 - Xbox One (US)
Available Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox 360, Xbox One
Genre: Sports
Developed by: EA SPORTS
Franchise: Madden
ESRB Rating:
Everyone

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14 comments

  • andrew-hardin - October 15, 2013 7:27 p.m.

    THIS GAME REALLY FUCKING SUCKS, so just a minute ago i was beating the shit out of this guy online and im like 20 and 0 so im playing and it starts really lagging, then out of nowhere i get booted out of the game and im rewarded with a loss!!! MADDEN GO FUCK YOURSELVES THIS GAME IS A PEACE OF SHIT, im telling everbody i see for the next year too not buy your gay ass game! Please excuse me im gunna go take a shit on this stupid ass game and feed it to my dogs, madden fuck you!
  • jeffrey-bailly - November 7, 2013 7:39 a.m.

    oh man thats funny
  • avantguardian - August 24, 2013 9:38 p.m.

    nice. i've taken a couple of years off of madden, it's good to know the game has progressed nicely in that time. this year's ncaa has finally found a proper balance, and has me excited to get my browns into the playoffs (because lord knows, it isn't happening any time soon IRL). i preordered this for the x1, is there any word on differences between versions? i would hate to see ea cut some features just to get the game 'next gen'. i recall the first couple of 360 maddens to be a bit shite.
  • usmovers_02 - August 24, 2013 1:45 p.m.

    Calling the presentation "hit and miss" simply means that the reviewer is a casual football fan at best. The presentation in last years game was beyond abysmal.
  • avantguardian - August 24, 2013 9:32 p.m.

    gr is lucky to have a sports reviewer as good as grisham. he actually cares about sports, and what things matter to other hardcore sports fans. i'm pretty sure he knows more about football than you ever will. show some respect.
  • usmovers_02 - August 25, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    I seem to have hit a nerve. Not my intent. Nor did I disrespect him. All I know about Grisham I read in this review. Calling this years announcers bland is a terrible understatement. In the few games I played of this years demo all the same absolutely terrible commentary was still there. They seem to think anybody who has the ball is a running back and that the offense is the defense. If grisham thinks this is "bland" commentary then why should I believe he knows more about football than me? Of course this is based on this ONE review I've read. For all I know for this particular review he put forth absolutely no effort when perhaps he usually does.
  • avantguardian - August 25, 2013 11:21 p.m.

    claiming he's skimping on his work by using the word bland is just silly. to any professional this would be insulting. so yes, you are disrespecting him. commentary has nothing to to do with actual football. btw. to infer his lack of passion for the sport based on something so ultimately pointless just shows that you have no idea what you're talking about. good day.
  • usmovers_02 - August 26, 2013 2:42 p.m.

    I did not claim that he skimped on this review. I merely through it out there as a possible explanation for his seemingly uninformed opinion of the commentary in Madden 12, 13 and now 25. If he IS familiar with the previously mentioned games then he is not familiar with commentary in the NFL or it is simply a very poorly worded opinion. The commentary in Madden isn't bland, it's terrible. Commentary DOES have something to do with the NFL. It actually has a LOT to do with the NFL. It has no baring on what happens on the field but it is a key part of the Sunday experience for most fans of the NFL. Madden makes extensive use of the NFL license and as such commentary IS a big part of the overall package. Regarding my respect or lack-thereof for Grisham: What has he done to earn my respect? Before this article I didn't even know he existed. Therefor he gets the same neutral respect all strangers get from me. Regarding my questioning his passion for the sport: Baring in mind that this article is all I know about him and taking him at his word how can I believe that he's a true NFL fan if he think the commentary in this game is bland? There's certainly nothing WRONG with being a casual fan, nor is there anything wrong with making a simple mistake which very well may be what happened in this article. Bottom line: The commentary in Madden 25 isn't bland, it's terrible.
  • avantguardian - August 26, 2013 3:36 p.m.

    seeing that commentary has never been done correctly, ever (i don't see how it ever will be, as canned phrases and emergent gameplay will never properly mix), using that as any sort of measuring stick of a game's quality only proves your own casual interest. i would be willing to bet that the vast majority of hardcore sports fans understand this (myself included), and don't even listen to the commentary after a game or two. simply put, you made a baseless assumption about a professional, and his integrity, with no real insight. if this is how you choose to go about your life, so be it. it's your metaphysics, man.
  • usmovers_02 - August 26, 2013 6:18 p.m.

    Correct. Commentary has never been perfected. Still a LONG ways to go. But ESPN NFL 2K5's commentary absolutely embarrasses current Madden games. Heck, even past MADDENS have had better commentary than the previous few. Madden has taken massive backwards steps in this area. I know that truly emergent commentary may never happen at a level that makes you forget you're playing a game. But that doesn't mean that silly mistakes should be considered acceptable. The commentators need to know the position of the player they're talking about. They need to be able to say the players names during the play. They need to know that preseason games are different from regular season games. They need to talk about the season as a whole and not just the current game. They need to stop calling my defense "the offense" when I score. When I break a record set by myself they need to stop crediting the previous record holder. This is just a very small list of the ridiculous simple mistakes made numerous times during games. ESPN NFL 2K5 was able to name the players they were talking about seamlessly. To a very basic extent it was even able to describe what was going on during a play with fair accuracy. It actually knew if I was wide open or in double coverage whereas Madden does not (at least with any amount of consistency). I also try to ignore the commentary because it's so bad. But the fact is I want Madden to be as much like the NFL as is possible and that means commentary needs to be where it was 8 years ago at the very least. Also, I did not make a baseless assumption. I've actually stated the base of my assumption several times. The basis of my assumption that the reviewer is only a casual NFL fan is that I don't see how a serious NFL fan can believe that the commentary in Madden is anything better than very bad.
  • usmovers_02 - August 26, 2013 2:46 p.m.

    Damned typo. First line should say "I merely THREW it out there"
  • KA87 - August 24, 2013 11:42 a.m.

    Did anyone else notice that in the picture at the top of the review that the Packers #51 is backwards on the jersey?
  • avantguardian - August 24, 2013 9:23 p.m.

    the whole picture is backwards.
  • hintzke - August 24, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    Honestly this game looks amazing, I am really impressed with how far Madden has come since I last played it in Madden '11. Though what I really want to know is if you guys plan on doing a review of Europa Universalis IV?

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