Also On: PS4
Developer: EA Tiburon
Medium: Blu-ray Disc/Digital
The next generation is here and gamers are surely excited about their new consoles and the future possibilities they have to offer. Regardless of which console you are a fan of, if you’ve forked over a ton of cash for an Xbox One and/or a PS4, the future looks bright indeed. EA is one of the first out the blocks with their latest game in the Madden franchise just in time for the launch of both consoles. While Madden NFL 25 offers a few new features on the new platforms, unfortunately in the end, the version you get on the Xbox One and PS4 is just a slight improvement over what the current generation had offered a few months earlier. Of course to this reviewer, that is not a bad thing. If you haven’t played the current gen version, all I can say is that, even with its faults, glitches, and occasional hiccups, Madden NFL 25 may prove to be the best all around football game ever created.
Visually, Madden 25 on the Xbox One and PS4 look slick yet again with player models that perfectly replicate most body sizes, types and key animations. A good chunk of the player’s faces have also been implemented, which even includes the coaches. I know that they have done this over the last couple of seasons, but striving for the most accurate representation for each player seems to be a bigger focus this year for the developers. While I applaud EA for trying to get all the likenesses into the game, some still look a bit off if I’m to be honest. The improvements don’t stop there and becomes even more evident with the new cut scene cameras which were added to this year’s game. Sure they do repeat quite often, but at least they are not rehashes from last year’s game. Another impressive addition is during big games of the week the introduction screen changes from just emblem showcases to a history of the participating teams with actual game footage. It’s the little touches like this that just add to the excitement of the upcoming game you are about to play. This biggest and most impressive upgrade from this year’s visual package is the new engine that once and for all makes canned tackle, catch, and hit animations a thing of the past. This new engine is even a bigger leap over the strides made from last year and with less odd looking animations experienced just a year ago. Lastly, the visuals of the crowd and even the sidelines are no longer poster board style dummies, as they are now more live and interactive.
The audio package in Madden 25 is just about what you would expect from a sports title, complete with authentic stadiums sounds, impressive crowd reactions, clashing of helmets, grunts and groans, and adrenaline pumping music. This is all accompanied by a broadcast play calling team that does a good enough job but will wear on your ear drums after a while. This not only is due to a good amount of one liners you will hear over and over again, but there are quite a few miscalls this year than I can remember from seasons past. For instance I could be in the 4th week of my single player career and they will still be talking about getting my first 1st down and continue to babble on about it for the rest of the quarter. Admittedly this gets stale really quickly. None of this was sadly fixed or corrected from the current generation version, but maybe a future patch will update these minor issues.
Where the Madden franchise earns the respect of the gaming community and keeps gamers coming back year after year is the way the game plays and continues to feel more authentic with each new version. I really think this year the developers got it right when it came to creating the real feel of football. Thanks in large part to the newest Infinity Engine, the ball just feels more unpredictable and more alive than ever before. This is even more evident in the Xbox One and PS4 versions as there are 5 times the moves per player which makes the authenticity that much greater. The game also has a ton of new animations, and finally, running backs and receivers will not only try to shake and bake tackles, but drag them as well. What’s more, if your player makes a break for it and is losing their footing, you have a chance to regain your balance by wiggling the right analog stick. It’s little touches like this you will see all throughout the game which feels more realistically paced this season when game speed and stats are concerned. Toss in the reinvented truck stick for the running game on top of the already polished passing game from last season, and you have a Madden title that feels great no matter your flavor of offense you choose to play from. This is not to say the game’s defense or A.I. is a slouch either, as a matter of fact this has to be the most “fair” Madden AI engine I’ve encountered. The obvious rubber band AI from years gone by is a distant memory. That’s not to say the CPU won’t try to make a comeback every now and again, but you can rest assured that bad luck interceptions, fumbles, and a perfect comeback offense that seems unstoppable won’t rear its ugly head and make a miraculous 21 point come from behind victory in the 4th quarter. I will say that out of the box you may have to fiddle with the AI settings when playing the CPU as at this point the QBs are a little too accurate, and some of the game’s balancing needs tweaking, but that is what sliders are for after all.
Added to the Xbox One version is the Coach Glass which allows you to use a tablet or smartphone along with the Smart Glass app to see your opponent’s offensive tendencies, biggest weapons, play history and more as the game unfolds. It will even suggest plays that are likely to boost your odds of success. You can even call plays directly from your device making it the only place to call plays and shut down those defenses once and for all. Fear not online fans, this carries over to online play as well.
Where Madden 25 is meatier than a can of Campbell’s Chunky Stew is the huge amount of gaming options you have the pleasure of playing. You, of course, have your Play Now and online Head to Head games for those who just want to throw down right away, but there more modes this year than I can remember from years past. It is nice that most of the modes you loved have made it over to the next gen without being stripping down, which most first incarnations of sports games often are. Well everything but the Game Face feature, even though it is in the next gen FIFA title. Otherwise, most everything you loved about Madden 25 for current gen consoles has been faithfully brought over to the Xbox One and PS4.
First off you have your Skills Trainer mode that is more than just a tutorial mode as you have 4 sets of drills to attempt; running, passing, defense, and pre play. Each style has a tutorial for each drill you will attempt as well as a goal to reach for each drill setting. It is this style of skill trainer that really helps you up your game and maybe even show you plays, timing, and routines you may not have even known were in the game.
Next up you have a continuation of what was introduced last year with Connected Franchise. Last year you had just Player and Coach to tinker with, but this year you can add owner to that list. While there were tweaks to Player and Coaching franchises, they were not as prominent as you see in Owner’s Franchise, and let me tell you, it is the Owner’s Franchise that really impresses. Not only are you in charge of the financial aspects of the game, such as ticket and vendor prices, keeping fans happy, etc, but now as the owner you can change the game’s atmosphere by opting to rebuild stadiums or even relocate teams. All your decisions will be met by the ears of the media as you will answer a series of questions after each reflective action you take. For instance I decided to take over the Lions, as I figured with Detroit filing for bankruptcy and the team has been weary for a while, why not take over the team and relocate them. There are 16 cities in which you can relocate; from Columbus, Ohio to Dublin Ireland…yes Ireland! So of course, jet lag be damned, I relocated the Lions to Ireland and a new franchise was born as well as a new way to look at the game of football overseas. This is just a sample of what can be done in Owner's Franchise, which of course when connected online will be graded and judged by your pears and friends alike.
Upgraded this year as well is the Madden Ultimate Team which takes a bigger page from their Hockey Ultimate Team and what made it so successful, which now includes a team chemistry meter. What’s more is you can import your Xbox 360 or PS3’s Ultimate Team over to your shiny new console if you want to keep your hot team going into the next generation. Now each player card you acquire will have a logo under their position whether it’s Short Pass, Long Pass, Ground and Pound that each player specializes in, but if the team is created with that one particular game plan in mind they will flow better as a team and are apt to not cause as many critical errors. What’s more, now you have contracts to worry about, so make sure when you purchase those packs of cards that you keep an eye on the player’s contracts as you now earn contract cards to extend contracts as well so you don’t lose that player. Not only do you have your head to head online seasons to play, but now there are a ton of single player challenges for the times you just want to hone your skills and earn coins to try and unlock better players. What’s more is you not only earn coins for each single player victory, but a special card or item to boost your team as well. Of course for those who want to take the short cuts, you can spend your hard earned “real world” money and just buy packs of the best cards, but where’s the sport in that?
I will be the first to admit that Madden NFL 25 is not a perfect football game, but the overall package and satisfaction you will receive from game to game is so overwhelmingly genuine that you will be willing to overlook its faults and realize that this is just about as good as it gets for virtual football.