Every once in a while we are privileged with an anniversary edition of our favourite game franchise. While sometimes these games bring back a sense of nostalgia and happiness, Madden NFL 25 reminds me that not every anniversary is a happy one.
So what makes the anniversary game so special? Nothing, absolutely nothing. I mean it’s interesting to read about trivial information for the franchise’s past games, but there is nothing to give this game a real “wow” factor. I will admit, however, that EA’s implementation of their new infinity engine provides a very exciting look towards future next generation EA titles such as NHL and FIFA, and, of course, the re-release of Madden NFL 25 coming later this fall for next-gen systems.
First off, let’s talk about gameplay improvements. The controls are incredibly familiar, and they have also made features like calling offensive and defensive audibles much easier. Additionally, when selecting an audible you have the ability to see the game from the coach’s perspective. This allows the player to see another view of the field before the snap. Now let’s talk running; EA has finally done something to improve on a feature that was severely lacking. With the addition of the “true step motion system”, your ball carrier has the ability to make precision turns and ankle breaking pivots, making running with the ball more exciting and less of a chore. Running has now becoming a vital part of your offense; the game’s AI will begin to detect and counter offensive strategies that only utilize passing, as opposed to past years that have allowed you to throw all game without a problem.
Speaking of AI, Madden NFL 25 introduces the new “Player Sense” feature, which essentially allows your character to adapt to his surroundings. For example, you could have your running back break a tackle and run towards his blocker; as this is happening, a block knocks a defender to the ground. In previous Madden games, your player would either trip and fall over the defender or get stuck and tackled. In this installment, your character will hurdle the dropped player in hopes to pick up a few extra yards. Speaking of fallen players, the Player Sense also puts forth a much more realistic take on player injuries. Players who take large hits are more likely to leave the game for a few plays before you are given a status report on the player’s condition. The longest-healing injuries I have seen in my playing of the game are six weeks for a broken ankle and two weeks for a concussion. Aside from these two new features to the gameplay, Madden NFL 25 is still very much the same game from last year.
On to game modes! Naturally, the first thing I attempted was a standard game. I immediately noticed that Play Now still features the ability to play a regular game or the Super Bowl. Making its fourth appearance in the franchise, Madden Ultimate Team has become a must-play for anyone who would enjoy a challenging “fantasy draft” type of game. From the moment you enter the mode, you must select a team captain (who can be chosen from a list of today’s superstars), then you choose a pack of cards. This pack of cards will be the base of your team. As you play games both online and off, you will earn coins which can be used to purchase more random card packs in-game, or bid on a specific players’ cards in auctions. This way, you can build the team you want. Be careful though; your players have a set amount of games attached to them, and if you don’t add a contract card to that player he will become ineligible to play. If you have trouble earning coins, don’t worry! EA has given you the ability to purchase coins through the Madden store using real currency. This allows you to maybe get a few extra coins to pick up your favourite quarterback.
A new mode that I would like to touch on is the Owner mode, which was added to the Connected Franchise mode. The game still has Player and Coach modes, which you can either create or pick up in the middle of your favourite player’s career. Both of these modes feature online and offline play for every type of gamer to enjoy. The Owner mode, while offering the same types of modes, allows you to take full control of any team. Every decision you make will make or break your team, from media interview answers to changing the price of your star player’s jersey; all decisions affect the everyday operations of your team. In your financing menu, you have advisors who will help you with everything from food prices to upgrading your parking lot for the fans. You can also choose to complete tasks for your coaches or delegate them; this includes trading players, signing free agents, and offering contracts to players. Finally, you get to do the one thing you purchased this game for… play football. You now get to watch your team battle it out on the way to the coveted Super Bowl.
So how does the game look? In a nutshell, I hope it looks better on the PS4 and Xbox One. Visual and audio presentation is where I found this game severely lacking. Sure, the intro videos to each stadium are cute, but they get old in a hurry. The repetitiveness of stadium music and boring color commentating from Phil Simms and Jim Nantz make this game worth muting. Visually, there isn’t much to talk about; sure, the stadiums look nice, but they are just a refresh from last year’s edition of the game. I would have expected more from the anniversary edition, but I, like many others, am starting to think the trailers that were revealed were clearly displaying next generation content.
For any fan of the franchise, this is game is a no brainer to pick up as it features hours upon hours of content if you care to dig deep enough. If you are the occasional player who picks up the game every once in a while, however, you can probably wait until next year’s installment.
This review is based on the Xbox 360 version of Madden NFL 25. The game is also available on the PlayStation 3.