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'Madden NFL 25' on Xbox One starts a solid next-gen foundation

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Madden NFL 25

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Madden NFL 25 is one of many titles that is available across the current-gen PS3 and Xbox 360 platforms as well as the next-gen PS4 and Xbox One platforms. EA Sports smartly ensured that no features were cut in the process of porting the football sim to the new consoles but are the next-gen upgrades worth it?

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The PS4 and Xbox One versions of Madden NFL 25 do indeed look better than their current-gen counter-parts but don’t quite push the “wow” envelope the same way that the player models in NBA 2K14 do. Part of that is because Madden has to render a much larger stadiums, more players and more fans and part of that is just the nature of the camera being pulled back from the players to see the entire field. Very few of the digital players look like their real-life counterparts up close though and Jim Nantz and Boomer Esiason facial models will make an uncanny valley cry. The grass does indeed look nicer though.

That said, the player animations are much improved especially along the offensive and defensive line and the player models look sharper overall thanks to the improved resolution. The atmosphere of the game is better as well thanks to the crowds and sidelines now being fully rendered 3D models versus flat cardboard cutouts. You will find individual models copied and pasted frequently in close up shots of the crowd though.

The crowd does reacts better to big plays as well with appropriately deafening cheers at Seattle’s CenturyLink field at game changing moments. The defensive AI appears much improved as well with defensive players following receivers and breaking on passes in ways that make playing offense more challenging than previous iterations.

While the defensive side of the ball is improved, the offensive running game is more controversial. The new physics engine in the next-gen version of Madden NFL 25 effectively removes the ability for ball carriers to change direction on a dime unless their agility stat is ridiculously high. This means that users will have to decide to make their cuts a step or two earlier. Is it more realistic? Possibly. Will some users dislike the new feel? Pretty close to definite.

The various game modes, including Ultimate Team and Connected Franchise, are all there and provide a strong foundation for future yearly releases. Ultimate Team plays like a card collecting game but you’re picking up current NFL players along with NFL legends instead. Card packs can be purchased either from experience points gained from completing challenges and winning games or through the unfortunate but now rote inclusion of micro-transactions.

Meanwhile, Connected Franchise lets you take control of an individual player’s career, a coach or the owner of a franchise either by yourself or with friends online. This can be done with the default roster file, one of your own creation, or one shared by a friend.

The Xbox One version of Madden NFL 25 does come with one exclusive feature that is indeed impressive and that is CoachGlass. Tablets and Smartphones that have Microsoft’s SmartGlass installed are able gain access to a running analysis of your opponent’s tendencies as well as suggested defensive plays based on data collected from other Madden players. It’s a true second screen experience but is honestly best experienced on tablets as the screen size of most smartphones is not large enough to quickly soak in the information between plays.

The real question with Madden NFL 25 on the PS4 and Xbox One is whether it is worth the purchase. If you waited it out and didn’t pick it up for the Xbox 360 or the PS3, that answer is yes. The visual upgrades and improved AI plus CoachGlass on the Xbox One are enough of a justification. Those that already own Madden for current-gen consoles are probably best served to wait it out for next-year’s edition though.

Title: Madden NFL 25
Platform(s): PS4, Xbox One
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Price: $59.99
Release Date: Nov. 15, 2013 (PS4), Nov. 22, 2013 (Xbox One)

A review copy for the Xbox One was provided by EA Sports for the purposes of this review.

You can follow Scott via Facebook, Twitter, RSS feed or email alerts for all the latest game news and deals as well as the weekly Furious Fourcast podcast/videocast. All game news on Examiner can be followed at the Game On Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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