Published on September 9th, 2013 | by Tony Odett6
Madden 25 Review
Summary: Iterative instead of innovative, but a very solid football game.
This was the year of tempered expectations. Yes, last year Madden changed significantly, adding a new presentation style and a realistic physics engine, meaning that this time around would be less about revolution and more about incremental improvements. Needing feedback from their previous installment and handicapped by the impending new console generation and its new design challenges, it is no surprise that Madden 25 is a slight improvement over its predecessor. Mind you, there are a number of tweaks to last year’s version, but the similarities are significant, making this Madden, more than any other recent effort, seem overly iterative. The franchise still offers a fantastic football experience, but I have to say that its close kinship with its predecessor dampens much of my enthusiasm.
Madden 13 introduced a brand new game engine, with realistic player physics offering a game that felt much more like real football. Yet, it had a lot of “bugs” in terms of blocking physics. The blocking seems to be significantly improved over last year’s edition, as players seem to be following the play call properly and block in predictable ways. This means that running backs can view their blocks and reasonably decide which hole to take, based on the scheme. Try to bounce the ball outside in a manner not envisioned by the play, and watch as your player is smacked into the dirt. Sometimes, the blocking seems a little too good, in fact, especially in the return game. Leon Washington (GO PATRIOTS) may be a great returning, but he shouldn’t be breaking the ball 40 yards or a TD every kick return. Against the hated Jets, I was able to break back-to-back return TDs, through use of both the improved blocking and the new Precision modifier. The precision modifier allows you to use the right thumbstick to juke, shake and stiff arm more easily and more intuitively than in past Maddens. It’s a nice addition, but I feel like most of the time, I can do plenty of damage without using it. The normal running controls are good enough on their own.
In terms of look, Madden 25 offers a tremendously beautiful spectacle. Players in motion now look like (and thanks to the physics engine, have the weight of)their NFL counterparts. Gone are the 5 yards jukes of the past, replaced by plants, cuts and spins that look real. Also out is the weird post-play foolishness where players would keep accidentally knocking over the ball carrier when the play was over. The pregame Jim Nance and Phil Sims no longer look like aliens (their eyes from Madden 13 still haunt my dreams), and the entire pregame experience has been upgraded. I especially like the real video touches added to the Monday and Sunday night games, adding tributes to team favorites and even mentioning Bill Belichek (who, until now, has always managed to remain completely absent from the series, though he still isn’t a coach in game terms). This is easily the best-looking Madden ever.
The announcing has been revamped, again, and while they make less mistakes than in the past, it’s still weird to hear so many errors. Whether the player caught the ball or not, what down it is, and so forth- get it right. I’ve converted big third downs only to hear from the announcers that I’ve fallen just short. You see the same sort of thing in the Connected Franchise mode’s twitter feed, when you crush your opponent and you get a tweet about how you just barely won.
Connected Careers mode has been replaced by Connected Franchise. Like last year, you can choose a player or coach to guide through years of an NFL career. However, they’ve now added owners to the mix, allowing you to not only manage players, but set concession prices, sell tickets and the like. The absence of a total-franchise management mode was pretty conspicuous last year, so it’s nice to have it back, completing the suite of options you’ve come to expect in sports games.
An addition that has been sore needed in Madden for a long time is a skills trainer, and here it makes its debut. The Skills Trainer is basically a tutorial mode, guiding the player through many of the finer points of Madden. I’ve had friends refuse to play against me anymore after a few well-timed coverage changes, so it’s nice to have a soft introduction that teaches them the pre-snap controls without me destroying them completely. Using the trainer will also get you some achievements, and get you some nice bonuses if you enjoy Madden Ultimate Team.
I really like Madden 25. It’s not a huge leap forward, and the franchise is still looking up at betting efforts from the likes of NBA 2K and MLB The Show, but it makes some good strides, building on last year’s solid base to offer a better game. Football fans will be more than pleased: this game is a lot of fun.
Madden 25 was reviewed on the Xbox 360 console using a copy of the game provided by the developer.