Yes, it is that time of year once again. We’re calling in sick more frequently, performing all nighters, and talking trash much more than usual. There can only be one explanation for this strange, but all too common phenomena. Rejoice football enthusiasts, as “Madden” is celebrating 25 years of football with the release of “Madden 25” developed by EA Sports. In this year’s installment, the new precision modifier controls highlight the additions to this version of “Madden”. Although this edition of Madden does not feature overwhelming changes in comparison to its predecessor, it is becoming clear that the Electronic Arts team has hit its stride in refining a product that sets the precedent among sports titles.
As voted by the fans, Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders graces this years’ cover, which adds to the nostalgia that “Madden” creates in this years’ title. Upon startup the depiction of football is, as always, displayed perfectly. Majestic, triumphant-like music repeats in the background and it exudes the vibe of a gladiator entering battle. The user friendly menu provides much of the same choices of modes to choose from as last years’ “Madden”, such as Ultimate team, franchise, “Madden” moments and skills trainer. For those familiar with fantasy football, Ultimate team mode brings to the table a similar feeling. This mode allows you to build a new team, picking an NFL superstar and building the team around said star based on chemistry. With this team, you can play against the computer or take it head to head online. Franchise mode places you at the helm of your favorite team as you play through season after season, along with connected franchise. Connected franchise allows the user to play as the owner, head coach or the player. An all new version of “Madden” moments is here, reliving the best moments of the NFL from seasons’ past. Newcomers will be able to embrace what seems to be a deep system, by utilizing skills training, letting players learn the basics to the intricacies of the game such as the use of the option plays used in the playbooks of the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins. The deep but simplistic gameplay that has brought “Madden” to its’ ascent continues as a stable in this production.
The additional modes and features give the game an exceptional touch but make no mistake that “Madden” shines, this year in particular due to its gameplay. Supplementary presentation glorifies this game even further. Real life counterparts Phil Simms and Jim Nantz providing color commentary, pregame sideline reports, and depiction of the fans all do an enormous job capturing the pageantry of the NFL. The Xfinity engine that EA introduced in last years’ creation is brought back much stronger. Throughout every game, a different tackle is made and you would be hard pressed to find repetitive tackling animations. The negative with the Xfinity motor, is you will find players glitching through each other rather often. This unfortunately leads to miraculous plays, which will leave you scratching your head. The innovative precision modifier puts the ultimate control of the ball carrier in the right analog stick. Inventing your own juke and spin moves on the field is a nice compliment to the ever evolving gameplay. Seasoned maddenites will readily adapt to the pre-snap audible adjustments, which can make you feel as if you were Peyton Manning at times. In comparison with “Madden 13”, everyone on the field displays more of a sense of urgency as well and it adds a tad bit more of realism into the game. There are those that play “Madden” exclusively for bragging rights, and this is where online head to head games take center stage.
Playing a total of 5 head to head matches I was not surprised that online play was near perfection. The online games and games played against the computer are vastly similar, and the online games exhibit very little lag. Keep in mind that this was played on the PS3, although I would imagine that the Xbox 360 version would play similar as the history of “Madden” pertaining to online is close to superb. Taking things a step in advance, EA also focused a big part of the game on being able to share stats, playbooks and rosters to those on your friends list and also through Facebook. This sense of connectivity gives the title an added piece that was missing in the previous “Madden” titles. These added elements although modicum, create a version of “Madden” with more depth than the previous.
Looking at “Madden 25” at an overall perspective, it continues to build the legacy by adding minor, but crucial elements to the game to provide the user with the best NFL experience possible. The culmination of “Madden” under the exterior is more about the history of where it has been, and the progression of the series. There are no breakthrough features that alter the game to a new plateau, and it does not need such to enjoy the game. “Madden” fans of new and old will enjoy this game simply because it is the “Madden” that we have come to know, nothing more and nothing less.