It’s football season again, which means it’s also “Madden” season.
This year’s edition is special because it’s the 25th anniversary of the series. “Madden NFL 25” is the first time since the series start that they have changed their naming convention. Last year’s edition was “Madden 13.” However, aside from some trivia and fancy covers and graphics, that was the extent of the celebration. You would think for such a milestone they would have a bit more fanfare; instead, they made just made a couple of minor upgrades and gave it a fancy name.
“Madden 25” is not a drastic departure for the series; it is largely the same, but there have been some upgrades that make it better then last year’s edition. Most of the changes are not all that noticeable. The first real difference is the physics engine; it makes all the tackles look and feel more realistic then ever. In past games, sometimes the tackling and movement animations were goofy, and they seem to have fixed that. Most of the character movement has also been improved; spins, dives, and dodges feel much more fluid, making players like running backs feel like the superstar athletes that they are. In fact, a new addition to the gameplay is the “Precision Modifier,” which can really improve some skills, such as running and jumping, for some superstar players.
Most of the gameplay modes from “Madden 13” are back and better then ever. The Connected Careers mode from the last season has been expanded to include a new mode called “Owner Mode.” In Owner Mode, you are now in control of not only the team and the coach, but also the team’s staff, trainers, finances, and stadium. It feels very tedious for someone who is not really a sports fan, but if you are diehard Madden fanatic, the level of control is simply extraordinary. You can control pretty much everything, including hot dog prices, jerseys, and just about anything else you can imagine. The coach and owner modes are pretty novel, and they are very well done for what they are trying to accomplish. These things aren’t really for me – I play for the football, and what better way to play than with the returning “Ultimate Team” mode. This mode is similar to playing fantasy football; it’s an online season where you can trade players and increase your team chemistry, which helps to raise stats to make your perfect team.
For the most part, “Madden 25” feels just like watching a real game on television, with a few minor flaws. The commentary is very repetitive, there are a lot of repeated touchdown celebrations, and there are some very noticeable graphics glitches, such as fans disappearing. Other than these minor things, the gameplay is mostly stellar.
I played this game on the PS3, but it will be coming out for the PS4 and Xbox One at launch, so the game might actually be better on the new generation of consoles. We will have to wait and see.
I am not the biggest sports fan, but I found “Madden 25” to be an enjoyable experience. If you are new to the series, then this is one of most realistic football games you might every play. If you wait in anticipation for the new “Madden” every year, you may be disappointed that there are no major updates, but you will like the little tweaks to the physics, graphics, and the additional team controls, which may make the game worthwhile if you like that sort of thing. Overall, I found this game to be one of the best sports simulations to ever be on the market, and it is worth a look.
-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected]