EA Sports titles are finally starting to be the games that fans were expecting in this console generation. Unfortunately, they have taken until the end of it to reach these plateaus, and the games are still far from perfect. Nonetheless, the games are where they need to be in terms of options, graphics, and gameplay for this generation. Madden NFL 25 is most likely the last major hoorah that will be on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Having said that, this Madden offers the most complete package this generation in terms of gameplay and play options.
Madden 13 introduced the Infinity Engine last year, which really helped changed how the game played. Infinity Engine 2.0 has been introduced this year for Madden NFL 25 along with NCAA Football 14. The Infinity Engine 2.0 really cleans up the clumsiness that was involved with the original and makes the player interactions more lifelike. No longer do players stumble over each other or limbs bend in awkward positions. Thanks to IE 2.0, the introduction of a stumble mechanic (seen also in NCAA 14) and the new Force Impact mechanics put a new polish on this physics engine. The introduction of the Precision Modifier mechanics for ball carriers is a derivative of the Force Impact mechanics. L2/LT can be used to do modified jukes, spins, and stiff arms when combined with the correct button. Players with higher ratings in those categories can truly separate themselves from the rest of the field. However, this reviewer's experience with pulling off these moves during the game did not result in a large, noticeable change. In fact, with the sprint button being mapped to R2/RT, it feels a bit awkward to try and let up to pull off the modifier, especially if the result is not that rewarding. The Precision Modifier comes off as a bit taxing.
With the next big gimmick of offenses gearing towards two-way quarterbacks and the Pistol formation, there is an abundant amount of option plays in the game. Thanks to the blocking improvements of the Infinity Engine 2.0 and much like the success of pulling off the plays in NCAA 14, running these option plays work well in Madden NFL 25. The same pre-play assignments are marked for defenders so you know who to read and when to pitch. Following blockers and identifying the holes to burst through is rewarding and makes running the ball fun. EA states there is 20+ new impact block animations and interactions in the game. There are also 30 new blocking schemes and a new open field run block targeting system. Some issues this reviewer has encountered include your fullback running into lineman and not opening a hole and a decent amount of missed blocks. At least the defensive line does not immediately come off their block if you run up the middle.
The rest of the product on the field is familiar. With a focus on running the ball this year, passing is equivalent to what was implemented last year. The pass blocking is improved, and on the defensive side of the ball, it is a little easier to shed blocks as compared to in the past. You can still lead receivers with the Left Stick and evade tackles if your quarterback is good enough with the Right Stick. The problem is the significant amount of dropped passes this year. There has always been the issues with the lack of interceptions on the defensive side because of the drops, and this is in more abundance this year. Now this means your offense will suffer the same problem this time. Guys who catch passes, more times than not, will have a couple of drops per game. Also, sustaining drives still comes down to crossing routes. But, thanks to IE 2.0, play action and screen passes do actually work in this game (much like they do in NCAA Football 14). Penalties also remain virtually non-existent in this game.
There are some questionable decisions in terms of gameplay. The defensive side of the ball is still largely unchanged. There are still issues with zone defense and some coverage, in general. The main change has come in terms of the pre-play assignments. These are mapped to a menu system that will take some time to adjust to navigating through on the fly. Individual coverage assignments can be changed, but with very minimal time. It would be nice to set up the strategies before the game starts. With these new offenses (especially Chip Kelly's in Philly), a fast paced, no huddle offense should allow for choosing plays out of your current personnel package on the fly. Once again, NCAA 14 does this, and this game does not. Not to mention, the quick play-type audible option has been removed. The pre-play assignments in NCAA are simple, but have been made over-complicated in Madden 25. Lastly, which might be a game-breaker for a few, there is exactly one camera angle. The camera is a bit far back, akin to the Coordinator Cam from NCAA 14. There are no other options available. This reviewer cannot understand why this would have been considered to be a good idea.
Now that the nagging issues are out of the way, the overall game on the field is entertaining. The A.I. makes good decisions and anything that it does results in making the player feel like they were truly beat. There are no cheap plays like super jumps or suction tackles. Most every game played feels rewarding at the end. To help with this is the overall presentation during the game. Phil Simms and Jim Nantz return to call plays, and provide some dynamic intel this time. A good bit is rehashed from last year, but Nantz will help identify where key people are on that specific play in case the offense changes it around. The commentary is in no way "perfect", but it's the best any football game this generation has seen. The improved scoring overlay and cut scenes are a nice touch, but some get rehashed a bit. The constant music in-between plays helps keep things alive and doesn't make you feel bored halfway through the game. Lastly, the Halftime montage does include a few highlights, but largely all of these montages could use much more.
In terms of graphics, the game is unchanged on the field. The player movement is smooth and quick, but not overly fast. There is no clipping, and replays still look as good as they did last year. Yes there are new animations, but with so much going on at one time, it is hard to notice all of these little changes. Off the field, the menus have been cleaned up and are much more useful during your Connected Franchise. There is much more news shared during the season, and stats and standings are placed fittingly without having to dig for them. The menus are all windows-based, and it looks fantastic as photos are used. The silver NFL Network-style look is fitting as the dramatic music puts you in the mood to hit somebody. The menu does run sluggishly, but this could easily be patched.
All the little changes and enhancements for gameplay help make Madden NFL 25 the top football game of this generation, but it really culminates in the amount of modes made available. With the Connected Careers being introduced last year, you had the option to play through a career as a player or coach, rather it be a created one, a current one, or a legend. Players earn XP each week and would improve their ratings as the years went by, and a coach would earn more for his legacy. In the end, the goal was the Hall of Fame. In Madden 25, EA Sports has brought back a favorite from years ago. The Owner Mode returns as you will have the chance to completely run the franchise. In Owner Mode, you play the games, handle the coaching duties, and maintain the finances and well-being of your team. All the owners are in the game to choose from, or you can use EA Gameface and create your own. The owner mode gives you the option to actually relocate your team and start over to one of 17 eligible cities. Stadium upgrades, concession prices, and fan happiness need to be managed to succeed in creating a legacy for your owner. Seemingly being pulled straight out of Sim City, there are a panel of advisors to guide you on decisions as fans will give feedback, as well. Lastly, at random times you will be asked for media statements which will effect the franchise.
As for other notes involving the Connected Franchise, the draft and trade logic have been improved. This mode also features offline 32-character/team control and an offline fantasy draft. Not only is player editing for position changes in the game, but the computer controlled teams will do the same if they change schemes. The ratings will be affected for that player, as well. Lastly, Madden NFL 25 includes Madden Share. This allows player to easily download or upload rosters, sliders, or playbooks. The service is free and the library will grow with time. Most importantly, these can be imported into your Connected Franchise. One problem this reviewer encountered has returned from last year. When starting your Connected Franchise, the ratings for players in the offline mode change. This could have to do with schemes, but if you are not changing coaches or playbooks, this really does not make sense why it does this.
There is plenty to do in Madden NFL 25. If you are a fan of the Ultimate Team mode, this is possibly the best one yet. Building team chemistry is the foundation for MUT this year. It's all about combining the right type of players based on different categories for offense and defense. Upping chemistry will unlock team bonuses and boosts. Players can also compete online with head-to-head seasons mode, or offline in solo challenges. Competing in 10-game seasons that culminate in a playoff with seedings and a bye week will net big rewards the deeper you get.So if you are in the mood for something different or have explored every which end of Connected Franchise, this might be worth a try.
Other things to keep you busy include the return of the Never Say Never Moments, where players can rewrite history. Initially there are five moments to complete all stemming from last year. Online team play supports up to six players in a three versus three match up. Lastly, the popular Skills Trainer from NCAA 14 has made its way over to Madden 25. This can really help teach players how to properly run the option. It's a great tool and can be quite addicting.
Playing online is a big component of the Madden series. Unfortunately as of the time of this review, it was not possible to locate an online opponent to try out the stability. However, judging from the past, most should know what to expect when it comes to playing online.
Besides a few questionable changes, Madden NFL 25 brings the most complete NFL experience to this current generation of consoles. With plenty of deep modes to keep players entertained, there will never be a dull moment in this version. The on-field product is the closest you will get to a television broadcast of a football game. The Infinity Engine 2.0 helps to create an experience more polished and realistic than anything previous. Fans of the series will appreciate the tons of small changes, and casual fans who only pick up a Madden game every few years should make this their choice.
+ Owner mode is deep and fantastic.
+ Infinity Engine 2.0 makes following blocks while running the ball rewarding.
+ Best representation of a NFL broadcast this generation.
- One camera view.
- Overall game is familiar.
- The new Precision Modifier is taxing.
A copy for PlayStation 3 was provided for review.