EA’s Madden franchise has a history of making incremental changes that have, at times, made fans feel as though they’re paying sixty dollars for a roster update once a year. Whether it’s a juke, a stiff arm, a spin, or a new mode, the steps the Madden franchise have gone through are far slower than the feet of Madden 25 cover boy, Barry Sanders.
What has EA been building the Madden franchise to? Is there an end game where everything that’s in the game is, truly, in the game? With the launch of Madden 25, EA may have hit pay dirt, providing the most complete experience for not just diehard fans of the NFL, but fans of football in general. Plowing through all the modes in Madden 25, players can take what they enjoy about the game and make it their own.
Some have dreamed of being the star quarterback. Creating yourself (and making you a superstar with a click of a button, 99 all the way!) is as simple as ever, with more modifications to look, size, and skill than we have seen before. Once you’re all set, throwing yourself onto your favorite team is simple and making the cap room to satisfy your lofty demands is just a trade away. Sorry, Eli Manning, the Bears will treat you well, we’re certain.
While creating a player and taking them all the way to the Super Bowl is always a great staple of the game, there are two areas that Madden 25 shines overall, allowing players to become engrossed in the experience, suspending disbelief that this is just a game. The franchise mode, be it as a player, coach, or owner, allows you to take control of not only your destiny, but that of a franchise.
While setting merchandise prices, figuring out whether or not to move your team to a new city, and dealing with the media may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is an addictive nature to this mode. EA pulls in a social aspect to the game, including simulated tweets and news stories that pinpoint exactly how the public feels about your squad. As any owner can tell you, however, it’s not just about your team. It’s about the league as a whole, including those who haven’t yet arrived on the scene. That’s why it’s awesome to see news stories about college talents pop up in your stream, along with a scouting mode that challenges you to spend your time, and XP, wisely.
At its core, franchise mode is an education on delegating resources and staying on top of what’s important. There are key personnel decisions to make during the preseason as an owner. Shirking your duties and letting the wrong staff make decisions can have disastrous consequences for your team. For example, as someone that want to get down to the nitty gritty and score some touchdowns, this gamer left all the decisions to other folks. It was with great surprise then that I saw a news story flash before the first game of the season with fans and media lamenting the surprising release of Ndamukong Suh, who had been part of a slick trade pulled off, bringing him to the Giants. Down a strong DT, we were left with scraps to deal with, creating a big hole in the defense that required in-season maneuvering to rectify. What you do, or don’t do, matters. It’s true to life.
Rounding out the ways a player can lose themselves in Madden 25 is the graphics, surprisingly. This is the closest to the visuals you will see on any given Sunday, hands down. We’re not talking blades of grass or dirt on a helmet, we’re talking overall presentation. Camera angles in cut scenes, positioning of announcers when kicking off coverage, and booth reviews show off what EA is capable of. If someone walked by and missed the controller in your hand, they’d be hard pressed not to ask what the score is.
While those graphics normally give way when it comes to actually running plays, Madden 25 doesn’t fall into that usual hole. The smooth nature of the Infinity Engine 2, with its enhanced physics, makes play look as life-like as ever before. Gone are the days of random body parts flying into the air and becoming attached to various defenders. Also gone are the random piles that lead to a ball carrier simply standing up and beginning to run again because they haven’t fully hit the ground. While always good for comedy, those past moments stripped the game of having the best experience possible.
True to the cover of Madden 25, many of the improvements via the Infinity Engine 2 ramp up the running game, not only with the above mentioned fixes, but also with enhanced stiff arms, spins, jukes, and the like. If you’ve wanted to be Barry Sanders, you’re looking at the most authentic way to do so.
The only let down from this year’s iteration of the Madden franchise comes on the marketing end, to be honest. Madden 25 hasn’t been rolled out with a grand celebration worthy of the 25 years of innovation it has produced. The Anniversary Edition contains the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is a nice score for fans, but doesn’t really scream “25 years of excellence” as it should. In a perfect world, there would be a collector’s edition with an exclusive pigskin signed by either cover athlete Barry Sanders or John Madden himself. It is a way for EA to yell from the highest mountain, exclaiming their happiness with having a franchise with such an enduring legacy.
As it is though, Madden 25 is literally the game. From the gridiron to the front office, Madden 25 finally breaks the plane and spikes the football, showing what 25 years of hard work, innovation, and insight can bring.
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