Last year I reviewed Madden NFL 13; this year I am reviewing Madden NFL 25. No, we did not get lost in a time machine. Instead this iteration’s moniker refers to the 25 years the series has been around. It is hard to believe, especially considering I was gaming regularly when the original game landed on 16-bit consoles. It makes me feel old, but also proud that I have seen every single milestone the creators have unleashed. Eight years into this console cycle though Madden NFL 25 definitely shows some of its age as well and again makes me hunger for that next generation of consoles to arrive.
Madden NFL 25 feels, in most respects, like the last few years’ entries. Ever since the massive overhaul in Madden 10, tweaks and new features have mainly focused on one or two things with each iteration. Madden 25 is no different. This year’s game focuses on the run, and how offensive lines open up holes, as well as how backs have dynamic changes in motion. It works, and it works well, and it makes running the ball more effective and fun.
This isn’t the only change, but it is the most apparent as far as mechanics are concerned. DBs also seem to focus less on immaculate interceptions, and route running also feels improved, but unless I was dissecting it, I likely wouldn’t have noticed much outside of the running game.
The Infinity Engine has also received a nice overhaul, making those awkward-looking tackles a little less awkward. Players now react more realistically instead of flailing all over the field when a defender barely touches them. Some weird clipping issues still occur, and players are known to still walk through walls and into benched players, but it isn’t as frequent as in past years.
Presentation continues its strides towards perfection, but some of it still feels lackluster. Sponsorships are all over the place, which is realistic, but also feels tacked on at times. Hearing Jim Nantz toss in “brought to you by Verizon” after standard commentary feels forced. I also heard Phil Simms make reference to Al Davis as if he was still alive, which shows some of the commentary had to be recycled. It isn’t constant, but it crops up enough to notice. It again shows the team at Tiburon has milked almost as much as humanly possible out of this current crop of consoles.
Connected Franchise makes a return and once again steals the show for me. In addition to choosing to play as a player or coach, I now have the option to become an owner. This was in past Madden games, and basically allows players to set stadium prices and negotiate contracts. Sure setting hot dog prices is a neat meta-game, but I didn’t find myself as entrenched in it as I did the other two options. I tend to choose a coach position, which lets me play normal games, and manage as much (or as little) of the back-end stuff as I want, such as signing players and draft scouting.
I could still sign up with up to 31 other players for an online league in Connected Franchise again, which is awesome if players can find that many to join. Playing real games that matter against real players is still one of the best features added to the series over the past few years. Online is relatively lag free and setting up a game is still simple. My favorite co-op mode also returns, making this the iteration to own, at least until the new machines hit this November.
All of the bells and whistles from the previous outing also return for most modes. The Twitter-like feed is in career, XP is earned in every mode that can be used to upgrade players and coaches, and tweaking difficulty is simple thanks to detailed sliders. It only took me three games to get my perfect difficulty set this year, which is much quicker than normal. I still miss the halftime show and weekly wrap-ups from a few years ago, and hope they make a return sooner rather than later.
Madden Ultimate Team is also here offering up the meta card game to get addicted to. It is like insane Fantasy Football, only with an entire generation of players. Special cards are available, but this is also where the micro transactions come into play. Thankfully it is never necessary. I was also a big fan of the new main menu, which showcases relevant info, new challenges and even quick ways to earn Achievements/Trophies. The ticker also returns giving big sports fans like me updates on all the real NFL scores and news.
Madden NFL 25 looks great. As I mentioned, the new Infinity Engine really spruces up the ridiculous tackle animations. The on-field action also feels more pulled back, giving players a better look downfield. Presentation has been tweaked to feel more like a TV broadcast, complete with plenty of advertisers and sponsors. The commentary is good, but repeats quickly, as is the case every year. Finally the soundtrack is decent, but playing as my Raiders and hearing Thunderstruck every five seconds got a little old…quick.
Being the 25th anniversary, this Madden feels more like a celebration than iteration. I feel almost like Tiburon has something special in store for the next generation machines, and not another Madden 06. The small tweaks and new running game continue to improve upon the already outstanding foundation, but I can’t help but feel like the developers are being held back by older hardware more and more. Still if you don’t plan on buying new consoles, there is no good reason not to pick up the latest Madden NFL title. It is a solid outing that will deliver multiple seasons of fun.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.