MADDEN NFL 25 [Review]: Akin to running a JAG(s) Marathon.

EA Sports.

“It’s in the game!”

Unfortunately for Madden NFL 25, everything that has been brought back in the game hasn’t exactly made it better. Electronic Arts was wise enough to fix all of the blips and bloopers of last season’s Madden 13 (no, we haven’t turned the NFL clocks forward into Bill Lambeer Combat territory just yet; 25 is for the legendary franchise’s 25th anniversary), but those fixes perform more like a patch than a reason to shell out another 60 bones.

I loved last year’s edition despite having two major gripes: the lack of a Fantasy Football Draft for the Connected Careers (now Connected Franchises), and the option of controlling more than one team (well, more than one player, coach, and now owner, since Owner Mode is back). Thankfully, in Madden 25, you now have the option of drafting all your college favs on one team, as well as having the opportunity to allow 32 local user-controlled teams play in your season. It was a little tricky to pick up some of those coveted players on my team — since there’s no option to override trades — but at least there’s an option to turn off the salary cap.

That’s the good news.

The rest of the story is unfortunate. With the new consoles arriving in a little over 2 months, it may have been an easy choice for EA to blow the lid off the joint and dial the current gen in. It’s true, the running game has improved tremendously. Hold down the LT/L2 and you can now use a seemless array of running attacks…that actually work. Thanks to this Precision Modifier, stiff-arming/trucking/juking has never looked better (that’s why Marshawn Lynch was an easy draft pick for me), and you can finally, realistically explode between those gaps with Purple Jesus (a.k.a. All Day a.k.a. A.P.)! Passing once again is great, also. Want to lead Anquan Boldin with precise sideline rockets, or flare up a few softballs to the overpowering Dez Bryant-types? No problem. You can even reflect last season’s “new shit” with Russell Wil or Kaepernick Pistol read-optioning all the way to the Super Bowl, without a sweat.

I also had a good time making none other than “Prime Time” Deion Sanders my owner, with the intent of shipping those Jags out to Hollywood (California; not Hollywood, Florida). Even cooler, I was actually able to draft real Michigan players from NCAA 14 with the return of the Importing Draft Class option (in addition to my Tom Brady-led fantasy squad with fellow alum, Jake Long, Charles Woodson, Lamarr Woodley, etc.). Drafted college players now get re-rated, and will have no problem meshing in with the rest of the league from a graphical engine standpoint, unlike before. The only issue I had with my franchise was having to wait a full season before relocating my Jags to Sunset Boulevard.

Come on, man.

Off to the City of Angels and ain’t never comin’ back…

Luckily, there’s some humor to keep those central Florida woes down. The Twitter comments on the menu feed about “the biggest sports moment ESPN has ever had to cover” a.k.a. the “real” Fantasy Draft are downright hilarious. @AdamSchefterEA (notice how EA uses none of their real twitter handles): “The crazy thing about this entire re-draft is how secretive it was kept. Nobody even saw this coming.” It’s a little too much of a shame then that players have only about 20-seconds to decide on a stud or dud before the CPU auto-picks for them. Oh, the choices of a 3rd string clipboard holder!

Even more Floridian craziness took place during my first Jax preseason game against the Dolphins, when a fumble was reversed during instant replay in favor of the Jaguars…to the sound of boo’s. Did EA screw this one up, or is there just more Miami faithful in attendance? Since it looks as if more than half the stadium is empty – obviously based on the pre-Fantasy Draft Jags a.k.a. the year BB a.k.a. Before Brady – there’s no question there’d be more Phins in attendance. There were plenty of orange shirts, and even Jags fans jaded over the proposed LA move were clapping for the opposition.

Though I’m sure it was just a technical mistake.

To obtain a pre-order code for Coach John Madden, please visit the True Value Hardware location nearest you.

Some even stranger things proceeded. The same player was shown receiving a drink of Gatorade from a coach three times in a row during three consecutive time-outs. Was he that dehydrated that we needed to show him over and over? There are nice touches sprinkled throughout Madden NFL 25, such as loadscreens that spotlight historic moments from the franchise’s 25-years — even if they are just trying to mask just how damn long the loading takes. Next-gen, where are you? Instant replays have also improved, but somehow the “EA Network” (whatever happened to that illustrious ESPN contract?) can’t quite get the camera angles right on those damn sideline feet. Did he make the catch?

We’ll never know.

The game still doesn’t tell you who is injured on the field either, nor does the presentation show the actual training staff running out to take a look at the guy. In fact, the screen may even bug out on you with the clock running until you mysteriously call a timeout with the A button. Hmph. As far as the presentation is concerned, it’s more or less the same glitzy CBS-inspired jazz as Madden 13, with bigger and brighter menu layouts. And, yet while playing the game resembles the NFL as a whole, it’s still missing plenty of pertinent info. Like, where’s a scoreboard layout of games happening around the league during your Franchise? What about Fantasy Football information? And, I’m not referring to the real life scores the EA tracker provides; but the Connected Franchise stuff to make you feel like your games mean something and aren’t merely replicas of exhibitions.

What a beautiful game! Oh… wrong system? My bad!

The graphics are nearly identical, despite many of the close-up shots packing more acute detail than years past, and the movements are far more fluid. The crowd still lacks any type of personality, still looking like a swarm of repetitive robots hopping up and down to no avail. An overhead shot of MetLife stadium looks like polygonal cheese in comparison to, say, the photorealism of the Staples Center in NBA 2K. Stadium turf does reflect more lifelike though, as the painted team logos and markings on the field showed decay from naughty weather and the game’s physical grind.

Game physics have also improved tremendously (there’s no more linemen clumsily crumpling over each other in spades after a blown whistle), and most of the players look solid and life-like, while coaches resemble either extraterrestrial beings or Elmer Fudd. There’s still no Player of the Game, although there is a nice GMC “Never Say Never” Moment of the Game, which showcases the — you guessed it(!) — moment of the game. I still have no idea why EA refuses to incorporate a pre, half-time or post game show into their presentation; now it’s getting to the point where I’ve fully accepted they never will, and I’ll merely have to resort to review score deduction every season in its absence.

(Yes, EA, you are being penalized for NEVER listening to fans on the message forums… Well, at least never listening to Moody… EVER!)

At least someone was excited about this year’s game!

That brings me to the commentary. Phil Simms and Jim Nantz return and do an admirable job, if you consider rehashes from last year’s game OK. 2K Sports’s NBA series has had the most stellar commentary for 3 straight years coming, because their game sounds like an actual broadcast, not just a few words to keep the show going. A lot of times a nice open catch will still be called “a terrible ball thrown into double coverage” by Simms, and Nantz feverishly followed up a call of a clear first down catch with, “now that’s going to bring up a 4th down!” Frustrating. Where are the references to past games in the season? The team’s performance from last year? A player’s sudden development? His career downward spiral? Perhaps something that was said by the owner since the announced “Escape to L.A.”? What does the NFL have to say in the matter? How are the fans reacting (besides the Twitter comments on the menu)? What of this insane “real life” Fantasy Draft? How is the league impacted by this situation?

What, you couldn’t pay these guys another few thousand dollars to relay an eighth of what those great TNT studs annually perform for 2K?

Oh, and, by the way, during the end of my Connected Franchise, concerned fan @Gabe4Jags4Life tweeted: “I just started following the Jaguars and now they’re leaving?”

Until the Xbox One Madden comes out, so am I, Minister Gabe.

So am I.

3 (out of 5) Pigskins. A solid football game, but perhaps only worth buying if you don’t have Madden 13, or have no intent on buying a next-gen console.











  • Although Amazon, Best Buy, GameStop, Origin (??), Target, and Wal*Mart pre-order codes are needed to use on beginning a player career with Pro Football Hall of Famers (or Fame hopefuls), Franco Harris, Fred Biletnikoff, Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Kurt Warner, Rod Woodson, Steve Young, and Warren Moon, why do you need them for the use of Art Rooney Sr. and Eddie DeBartolo Jr. in Legendary Owner mode? Seriously?
  • In my review last year, I begged for “Thunder Struck” to open up all my home games at Gillette Stadium. Be careful what you wish for. Now that the stadium PA music is finally the real thing (AC/DC’s “Thunder Struck” / G&R’s “Welcome to the Jungle” / Blur’s “Song #1″ / White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” / The Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow”), you’ll hear the same songs recycled over and over to the point where you’re going to play your own music out of your surround sound. Of course, there’s still no custom stadium music (NHL 13, NBA 2K13).
  • You can’t change positions of players. So good luck trying to get Denard at RB, Tebow at TE, and Aaron Hern… wait. Don’t. Ever. Create. That dood. Ever.

Don’t even THINK of putting Jesus at Cornerback.

  • Do players really want to spend that much time setting prices for potato chips and reading Tweets from fans bitching about it? Players asking for trades after setting team records on a winning team? Call it: Owner Mode woes. Or, how about Madden Ultimate Team? Where you use trading cards or even more pre-order codes to acquire legendary players and create some wildly bizarre scenarios? If you’re into those types of metagames and bought the game early from the right place…then the Chemistry addition might suit you fine. This time, it’s all about shuffling the deck just right and placing players together who will get it done.. together. You can even run a little 10-game season in this mode this year. Since I’m not too fond of the Connected stuff, this may actually now be my go-to…
  • The biggest question mark concerning Madden NFL 25 this year actually has nothing to do with the game, but rather, about the concern of current-gen sales plummeting with the November releases of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Does EA Sports actually expect people to buy games twice? I know there are several programs only charging players an additional $10 to upgrade games like Madden 25 or Assassin’s Creed IV from PS3 to PS4. I know we have the choice of being “Gone ’til November,” but some of us don’t really want to wait. And, of course, some of us don’t really want to write 2 reviews of FIFA 14, either. Thanks.
  • And, in case you were wondering, my future endeavored LA Jags fell to South Beach in the preseason opener 49-10, with 4 INT’s from real life Jags QB Chad Henne. Maybe it’s time I use that All-Madden 25 Team with –the most dominating Madden player ever — starting QB, Madden 04‘s own Michael Vick. Woof.

EA Sports’ Madden 25 in stores tomorrow (Tuesday, August 27), for the Xbox 360 and PS3. November 15 for the PS4, and the yet announced launch day for the Xbox One.

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