Review

Madden NFL 25 Review

  • Game release: August 27, 2013
  • Reviewed: August 26, 2013
  • X360

Madden NFL 25 marks a quarter-century of football gaming with a disappointing addition to this venerable franchise.

by

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Since it isn't every day that a game franchise marks its silver anniversary, you expect something sublime from Madden NFL 25. This may be the most respected series in all of gaming, with a pedigree that goes back to before Ronald Reagan left the White House, so it isn't unreasonable to expect the developers at EA Tiburon to do things up right this year with something really special. They haven't. Despite the name, you get the same old story with the traditional roster update, a few tweaks to the graphics engine, new control schemes to rev you up, and a teensy bit of feature creep. Instead of closing out the current generation of consoles with a big bash, this year's Madden just plays out the string.

Not much distinguishes Madden NFL 25 from last year's Madden 13. The game has been refined overall, but not in enough ways to make a measurable impact on how it plays on the gridiron. With that said, the core of the game remains Sunday afternoon in a box. This is a remarkably full-featured NFL simulation where you can play, coach, and manage in just about every way possible through a range of single-player and multiplayer modes. If you have ever fantasized about what you could do with your favorite NFL team, player, or owner, chances are very good that you will be able to do it here. And if you can't do it here right out of the box, you can peruse the files available in the new Madden Share online feature, since it allows easy access to rosters and tweak files uploaded by fellow players that adjust the game in a variety of ways. Of course, the exact same comments about everything save the new sharing option could have been made about virtually every Madden game released in the last decade.

The one big feature addition is being able to play in the Connected Franchise mode as an owner. This completes the trifecta; you can now take on franchise play as a player (a made-up rookie, an existing NFLer, or a rookie version of a legend like Joe Montana or Sammy Baugh), a coach (fictional, one of the real guys wearing a headset on the sidelines this fall, or a legend such as Tom Landry or Madden himself), or an owner (also fictional or a real-life tycoon like Jerry Jones or Robert Kraft). There isn't enough difference between these options, however. You're stuck doing too many of the same things for any of them to stand out. It's strange, for example, that you need to run practice challenges to earn XP when playing as an owner. It's rather unlikely that Jim Irsay takes time away from his luxurious office in Indianapolis to head down to the practice dome and run scrimmages.

You would expect the owner mode to function like a sports management sim, but it really works as a traditional franchise option with a couple of actions grafted on, such as answering the odd media question, setting the price on merchandise like autographed footballs and stadium snow cones, and even deciding to leave town (here come the Rams, Toronto). There just isn't enough depth here. At least the developers have added back in franchise features like draft class imports from NCAA 14 and full offline 32-team control. And they have bolstered the long-term appeal of the collectible-card, multiplayer-focused Madden Ultimate Team mode, with player chemistry affecting team performance, and head-to-head season play. Madden Ultimate Team isn't for everyone given its odd complexity and focus on collecting player cards to field top lineups, but it now almost rivals more traditional franchise play with these added features.

The presentation has been spruced up in some ways. The Infinity engine first introduced last year has been smoothed out with more natural-flowing animations, so the weird broken-back tackles and impossible contortions are now (mostly) a thing of the past. Canned animations have been all but removed from the field during the action, so you never see the same play twice. This adds more realism to everything from pitchouts to Hail Marys, and at times you can get carried away with the illusion that this is real football. Get into a big drive, balance smart running plays with a dynamic passing attack, and you soon start feeling like a real field general who can do just about anything on any given Sunday.

But Madden still lags behind sister EA Sports series like NHL and FIFA when it comes to visual and audio impact. The interface is awkward and slow. It takes too many button presses to reach many frequently accessed functions, and the game pauses with fairly lengthy loads whenever you move from one menu window to another. There isn't much glitz or attention to fine detail, either. Players and coaches often look nothing like their real-life counterparts. Stadiums are sterile and lifeless, with static graphics, jaggy architecture, and generic jack-in-the-box fans who look like cardboard cutouts mounted on springs.

Further contributing to the visual inconsistencies are animations that are repeated over and over again, like the trainer squirting water into a player's mouth as he comes off the field when a time-out is called. Touchdown celebrations are constantly reused, too. There is also an overall softness to everything after snaps. It's as if the game is just slightly out of focus as you're playing, which is frustrating since the zoomed-in replays shown between plays are typically sharp and gorgeous.

The music is very dated and primitive sounding for an EA Sports game. All you hear are old stadium tracks like the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow" and Joe Satriani's "Crowd Chant," along with the odd bit of classic rock like AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" and Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle." The booth duo of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms is atrocious. They offer nothing but inanities, generic observations about the "offense" and the "defense" that rarely refer to players by name, and loads of those obnoxious "I'll tell you what" tics that make Simms so insufferable. Neither of them is watching the game that you're playing. They constantly contradict one another and make mistakes like saying how strong the pass protection has been today just after a QB has been sacked for the fourth time.

Madden 25's gameplay is also focused more on the SportsCenter stuff than what really happens in the NFL trenches. Passing remains too easy. Even the top defensive lines in the game can't mount much of a rush, giving you ages to get the ball to your receivers. Artificial intelligence is spotty when it comes to pass coverage, too. Both zone and man defenses give receivers way too much of a cushion. Crossing routes seem almost unstoppable, with every computer-controlled team weak over the middle when it comes to picking up receivers. As a result of all this, you can frequently finish games with completion percentages well into the 70s.

Admittedly, pass-focused games are pretty exciting. Get into a gunslinging frame of mind, and you can turn any QB in the game into Drew Brees. The sheer fun of being able to pump the ball into impossible spots is such a blast that you don't care how little the game resembles real NFL football on these occasions. Still, even though you can have a lot of fun in spots, the long-term appeal is tenuous. The more you play, the more it seems like you're taking advantage of exploits, not stepping into the cleats of a legendary quarterback.

The only thing that really limits you is an absurd number of receiver drops and virtually no penalties being called on the default slider settings governing when flags are thrown. To compensate for the weak coverage, there are extra moments when the ball just slips through fingers, and defensive backs and safeties frequently get away with incidental contact. So you'll see a good seven or eight drops in each and every game on what would be clean completions in the real NFL, and lots of moments where receivers get bumped before the ball arrives or are even abused with hits like horse-collar tackles that knock the ball out of the receiver's hands. Even the best receivers in the league make mistakes, of course, and refs have their issues, but there are way too many cases of butterfingers and blindness here.

New controls are one plus in Madden NFL 25. The run free mechanic enhances the running game with what's being called precision modifiers. This is really just a fancy name for the special jukes, spins, dives, stiff arms, trucks, and more that are pulled off by holding down the left trigger/L2 button and then hitting the button that controls the standard versions of these maneuvers. The result is applying more force or finesse to the traditional motions, so you can really wallop a defender with a truck or spin. You can even string moves together into combos, allowing you to practically dance around the field. Run free seems kind of gimmicky at first, but it's a useful addition to the arsenal that lets you turn three-yard runs into five-yard runs on a regular basis and occasionally turn an impressive 10-yard gainer into a sprint for six. It's complicated at first, although at least you can work on your moves with the new skills trainer feature. There, you head to the practice facility to run tutorials and drills that hammer home the how, why, and when of the new control rhythm.

Defensive controls have been enhanced as well. You can now lock on to enemy ball carriers with the heat-seeker tackling mechanic. Just hold down the hit stick when in range of an opponent with the ball to square up on him. This can be a real help in the open field, especially when the camera angle is off-line just enough to throw off your tackling efforts. Still, it's not all that necessary in most occasions, especially if you're already a pretty adept tackler. You also can't line up huge hits with heat-seeker; it's more about wrapping up the opposition than leveling them. So tackling with other methods remains the most satisfying way to play defense here.

It's a shame that EA Sports decided to make such a big deal out of the Madden anniversary this year. Putting that big "25" on the box cover ramps up expectations and may well make a standard baby-steps Madden sequel seem more disappointing. The heart of how the game plays on the field has been transplanted from its predecessor, making this a small shuffle forward that settles for subtle enhancements while leaving a lot of long-standing flaws intact for another year. This just isn't a fitting way to celebrate a milestone in the long life of one of the biggest and best franchises in gaming history.

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The Good
Still a very comprehensive and full-featured treatment of NFL football
Undeniably exciting to play at times, especially on offense
New run free and heat-seeking tackling offer control scheme enhancements
The Bad
Core gameplay barely changed from last year
Offense still overpowered and defense still not smart enough
Disappointing presentation
New Connected Franchise mode lacks depth
6
Fair
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Discussion

246 comments
MinerAvatar
MinerAvatar

Like all EA games after a few months, the latest patch makes it very playable now. Basically this version is just like Madden 2005 from the PS2 and Xbox days with the owner mode now in connected franchises (or whatever they call it this year). Overall it is the best Madden on this generation from Madden 06 to Madden 13 before it with the most features and playability of the lot. This is what Madden 13 should have been instead of the stripped shell of a game that was, and it is a vast improvement over it. Finally they allow you to share rosters and other files like 2K Sports has done, now there are some really good rosters with HOF players on them for everyone to use. You can use created playbooks again in all modes, they have drills again, I haven't noticed any magnetism when rushing the QB, running is better, a full 32 team offline play again, and they improved the menu's over 13. It may not be a perfect game (it still has a few money plays), but it is the best NFL game of this generation of Madden's by far in my opinion.

akdrummer95
akdrummer95

The first and last Madden game I got was Madden 07. That is one my favorite video games of all-time, and I see no reason to buy a new version.

camballux
camballux

I haven't played madden, since 2010. Interested to know if its worth getting this game or should I wait to next years edition ????

chavao666
chavao666

- Played the demo
- Threw the ball deep into a covered WR twice to see if the cpu would actually intercept like any CB would or just dumb drop
- Just guess...

TheLamaKnows
TheLamaKnows

Madden is the poster-child for the peril of exclusive rights to pro leagues. No other game is so incredibly lazy- year after year of marginal core gameplay but always a new micro-transaction based mode only kids spending their parents' money bother with. Madden's glaring AI issues and buggy gameplay aren't just bad- they've been bad for a good portion of the entire franchise's existence at this point. But, as with all monopolies, a total lack of competition has devs asking what is the bare minimum they can do and still cash a paycheck.
EA is doing it's best to get by doing nothing on their entire sports series. NHL 11 was phenomenal, but since has gone the way of Madden with nothing but silly (pay for) modes being added for years, for example.
No site should give any EA sports game a score above 1 until they actually offer something other than the same game with new box art and a roster update slapped together. A six point oh is too high, IMO, for the same game I played in Madden 10 or 11.
Excepting Madden, which I gave up on entirely at 11 or 12 (can't tell them apart anyway), EA games aren't 'bad' per se, but 'lazy' is a perfect descriptor.

guido684
guido684

Can someone tell me why madden gets a 6.0 but ign gives it a 8.5??

ElDollaz
ElDollaz

i kinda feel let down especially after how greatnba2k13

ElDollaz
ElDollaz

is it me are is all madden offline too easy to beat and where is the offline season


Vodoo
Vodoo

Maybe the team that develops the NHL games for EA should take over Madden. Because the NHL games always play great and have upgrades every year.

associationmode
associationmode

Unreal...................

- menu lagging wasn't fixed

- still no soundtrack reminiscent of the Madden's in the mid-late 2000's.

- announcers

The destruction of franchise mode is such a big one for me It has it's own list.

- Owner Mode should be much cooler!

- R1/RB to advance sections in franchise mode takes about 5 seconds each button press while NBA 2K or The Show (neither EA..hmmm) are boom boom. Yeah, i'm whining about a couple more seconds but menu's should be quick and easy. Selecting an option itself is worth a couple snaps now!


Dysantic
Dysantic

Please people, stop buying Madden games... We all know they suck and have sucked for the past 10 years now. They keep churning out the same garbage, calling them anniversary editions or throwback editions and all that we get is recycled gameplay with the smallest of tweaks.

Stop buying the Madden games and maybe they will give up the damn stranglehold on the license and then some actual competition will come in to the market and force them to release a better product.

eatdrums
eatdrums

Still playing Madden 12.  It was the last real franchise mode.  It's why I play the game.  I am so pissed off they screwed with the one mode I have enjoyed so much all these years.  Frigging EA!

Dswiss
Dswiss

Madden 93= Best Madden

famos_ga
famos_ga

MADDEN STILL SUCKASS PEOPLE...............THEY ARE ROBBING U OF UR MONEY................U KNOW.....................BOOM TOUGH ACTIN TINACTIN

brucehamilton
brucehamilton

I guess I'm the only one having fun playing this game, maybe because I only buy the even year releases of the game?

Does anyone know where to check your stats online?

PixelAddict
PixelAddict

What a missed opportunity.  25 years and the only legends they really use are for marketing.

Here's what I would have done: 25 Teams for 25 Years.  Just like it sounds, offer up a fully-detailed, roster-complete team for each of the past 25 years.  Uniforms should look like that particular team, and maybe even their home stadium, too.  Or make it 50 teams.  

Then keep the same exact engine from last year.

Then, here's where it would get interesting.  ANYONE who owns a current-gen Madden can buy the 25T DLC pack for $25 (or call it 25 for $15 or even FREE... to give the customers a THANK YOU).  That is DLC like 2K used to do.


famos_ga
famos_ga

WHERE IS BRETT FAVRE WHEN U NEED HIM

TheWalkingGhost
TheWalkingGhost

Agree with this review. Menus lag and the game is NOT worth 60 bucks. Redbox saved me money.

DaSlyOne
DaSlyOne

I'm about as excited as a herd of wild horses waiting to go into a glue factory.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

Just think.... 10 more years of the same reheated shit on Next Gen systems.  The NFL needs to come to it's senses and let other 3rd party companies back in the game.  It's fucking ridiculous.

The funny part about reviews like this... is that this is easily the BEST Madden game probably ever and got a 6 score... while the same reheated garbage year after year was getting 8.5 and 9 scores in the past.  What happened?  Did the EA Money Hat that was delivered along with the game to the reviewers stop coming?

famos_ga
famos_ga

MADDEN IS CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! THE GUY DOESNT DO HIS PLAY BY PLAY ANYMORE..........................U KNOW................BOOM 

mulder_000
mulder_000

This game reeks.  The presentation and play-by-play which was dumped on for the last couple of years is EXACTLY the same.  The gameplay has glitches galore.

Glad I just rented it for a weekend.  I will be buying NHL 14 even though EA makes that one too.

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

Many of you need to meditate and get off the energy drinks. Chill out. Relax. Make peace not war. Being angry over an opinion of a VIDEO GAME is devastating to your personal growth.

troyo90
troyo90

Disappointing review. Completely disagree. The game is on a completely different engine now and plays great. I noticed the lack of innovation over the past five years also but this year you can tell they put a lot of work in.

Yeah it's the same game, it's football.

Anyone hating on the game that hasn't tried it is lost.

EaglesFan1980
EaglesFan1980

Hi,

I have question about franchise mode in madden 25. Can we download a live roster update online after final cut day for the franchise mode? 

fullframework
fullframework

So this game takes place in the future? Man, even in the future EA is still rehashing the shit out of Madden.

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

Where is the investment in the lives of the players, coaches, and owners. That would b real innovation. As a rookie, I have little money, no honey's, no social cashe. Madden should become an open world game. A mix of the Sims games, building of Civilizations games, and a bit of Saints Row esque. Come on EA. Where is the expanding of imagination? I love football. But EA has made each week boring. I want to go home(as a player) and watch myself on Sports Center. Make money and go to the grocery store. Stock my fridge. Buy cars, houses, clothes. Date. Have the option of getting married and having kids. Open up Madden to all of the things that real athletes are confronted with on and off the field. Think EA. Think.

Gixzr
Gixzr

@TheLamaKnows  Every year i get excited about Madden or any new football game that comes out but I never pull the trigger. I get close but never did since 2005.  I think a lot of people do the same get excited then after 1 month totally loose interest. This is why they keep re-stamping the year on these games. This game should be GTA of football by now.  So lets all stop buying this EA crap and support a small new game co. if we ever get one.

Blueresident87
Blueresident87

@guido684 Because reviews are an opinion...there's absolutely nothing concrete about them. 

Truf89
Truf89

@associationmode The menu is pretty bad. It takes forever just to buy a card for the Madden Ultimate Team. And can only buy 1 at a time before being kicked back out to the previous screen.

associationmode
associationmode

@Dysantic they really do need a competitor because I actually disagree with you about "same," I think the game has managed to regress! 

associationmode
associationmode

@eatdrums agree with you. franchise/dynasty/association mode is THE MOST IMPORTANT mode in a sports game IMO. Fans want to experience that aspect of sports through video games more than anything. (Or Superstar mode which was BADASS when it debuted but has - like everything else - regressed sadly)

optim2000
optim2000

@ohjtbehaaave I agree...this is the best madden that has come out in a long time and it gets a 6.  I guess these reviewers are making up for lost time giving 9.5 scores to the updates that EA wants to charge you $60 for.

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

@mulder_000   Same here... I'll be getting NHL 14 after playing the demo.  At least NHL 14 looks and plays like a sports game should at the end of a gaming systems lifespan.  I'll be totally pumped for NHL 15 on PS4 and Xbox1.  Madden will be the same reheated shit with shinier graphics the next 10 years.

brucehamilton
brucehamilton

I think a lot of these haters have either:

A. Haven't played it or

B. suck at it. I bet they go 1-4 online then come say this game sucks

Evan21
Evan21

@troyo90 apparently you have no idea what the word "engine" means pertaining to gaming.

EaglesFan1980
EaglesFan1980

Just some more info, long time franchise mode fan here. I like to play offline single player franchise mode, so a live roster update is very important to me. I purchased last years release and i was very dissapointed in the franchise mode. Any input about player position editing also. Thanks

COLDFIRE25
COLDFIRE25

@trystkl1826 No. Just no. If sports games start turning into something other then sports games what's the point of playing them, I'll just buy the sims or civ etc.

blkgto
blkgto

@optim2000 @ohjtbehaaave I honestly do not think Brett Todd understands the finer points of football enough to be able to do a review that does the title justice.  A lot of the minor technicalities that were implemented are just not even mentioned, and I think that it goes to show that he either does not spend that much time playing the game, or simply doesn't understand.

optim2000
optim2000

@brucehamilton I've been a madden hater for a few years now..especially when they took out my franchise mode.  But i have to say this game is actually pretty good...Not anywhere the level I expect this game should be by now, but def an upgrade over the crap they been putting out for a while

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

Good thing we don't all think alike. If u would not b able to see the point, then u just wouldn't purchase it right? No biggy. Lol The best ideas always receive many nos but it takes only one yes by the right person.

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

U r hilarious. Crush on players. Hear myself. Haha Get a life. Projecting lost life ambitions. Innocent game. anhuarx U brightened my day with the breadth of your intellect. Thank you for your added wisdom. Your folks must b proud.

anhuarx
anhuarx

@trystkl1826 WTF is up with this guy or i think is a girl with a crush on players lol good lord really do you hear yourserlf? damn get a life already and stop projecting your lost life ambitions into a innocent game 

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

Awww shucks. Instead of something kind and intellectual, you tell a stranger their idea is dumb. Tisk Tisk. How should I respond? Hmmm lol This is fun. Ideas have such intense reactions. Don't u think? Have a good night. Your retort to my thoughts r quite profound. I cannot go on. This is too hilarious for me. ;-)

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

Lol Funny. No I play Franchise almost exclusively. Those r just thoughts on how the franchise mode can b expanded. Players do not spend all of their time on the field. Maybe off the field lives can b incorporated in the game. How a player spends his money, if he hits the gym or clubs before game day, diet, home life etc. Just giving my thoughts a wide berth. As the creators of Madden should do.

leigham
leigham

@COLDFIRE25 @trystkl1826 llol honestly lmao. By the sounds of it tryski, you want to be in the plastic surgeons office more than the field.

COLDFIRE25
COLDFIRE25

@trystkl1826 I see the point your trying to make. It's dumb. What your idea is has nothing to do with the sports aspect of the game and is pretty much the Sims. I think your playing the wrong game. I don't want to have to worry about all the other crap for my player. If I want new clothes I'll put down the controller and go out and buy some. I'm buying a sports game to play that sport, nothing more. 99% of people would agree.

trystkl1826
trystkl1826

You're right. We don't have to. Except for those hardcore football fans who wait all year for the next iteration of the game. I think it's time for other developers to compete with EA in making this game.

RS13
RS13

@trystkl1826 Good thing we don't all have to buy football games from the same developer . . . oh.

Madden NFL 25

  • PlayStation 3
  • Xbox 360
  • Xbox One
  • PlayStation 4
Madden NFL 25 lets players unleash 30 new moves and string together devastating combos with the all-new precision modifier.
ESRB
Everyone
All Platforms
Check out even more info at the Madden NFL 25 Wiki on Giantbomb.com
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6.2
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