|System: Xbox 360*, PS3|
|Dev: EA Tiburon|
|Pub: EA Sports|
|Release: August 27, 2013|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Madden 25 celebrates 25 years of the Madden Football franchise by creating a game that borders on the excess. There is a lot of stuff to do here, almost too much. In fact, you could play the game for a whole year and likely not take advantage of all that it has to offer. Madden 25 is a game that is something different to everyone. For the hardcore football fan, Madden still delivers the great gameplay that we have come to expect from the leading football franchise. But if you are a simulation fan, the game offers plenty of management and custom creation modes that can keep you happy, even if you never throw a pass.
Let’s start with the core gameplay. Longtime Madden fans will be happy to know that much of the core Madden experience remains unchanged: choose a play, control a character, press a button to choose who to pass to, and run as quickly as you can to the first-down line. However, the newest aspect of the gameplay is something called Run Free, which vastly expands your running game. The game now allows you to use a precision modifier to change up your running game.
What does this mean? Essentially, you can now use button combinations to access a variety of new moves while running. By combining the precision-modifier button with other inputs, you will be able to do spins, jukes, fakes, jab fakes, dives, and much more. Before, there were only about eight running moves you could pull off, but now there are well over thirty.
This is one of the aspects of the game that I feel borders on excess. Sure, there are thirty moves to pull off, but it’s not really clear what any of them do or when to use them and in what situation. There are tutorials in the game that are meant to help you figure out what to do and when, but during actual games, it’s still hard to tell if doing a spin will pass you through a line of defenders unscathed or will make you trip and fumble the ball. Also, if you think fighting-game move lists are intimidating, just wait until you try to memorize all the button combinations in Madden 25. I still don’t know what the right combination for a pump fake is. Overall, it’s certainly an interesting system, but it seems designed more for the hardcore player who wants to spend their time researching the ins and outs of the game. For the more casual fan, you can totally just ignore it.
Another big, new advertised feature in Madden 25 is the Connected Franchise mode, which is basically an upgrade to last year’s Connected Career mode. This is the main single-player mode of the game, though it can be played both online or offline. The mode lets you step into the shoes of an NFL player, team coach, or team owner and live out an entire career. You can either create your own character, play as one of the NFL greats, or download fan-created characters and franchises.
The player and coach modes are very similar to previous incarnations of Career mode. There have been tweaks to XP and what you can spend XP on, and players and coaches earn XP far quicker than they do in previous Maddens, which is something fans have been asking for. Lots of new NFL greats have been added to the mode, including player and coach versions of Mike Ditka. Of course, you will likely spend most of your time with created characters, and unfortunately, character customization options haven’t expanded much.
Owner mode in Connected Franchise is actually one of the weirdest additions to the game. As you would expect, this mode puts you in the shoes of an NFL team owner. You have control over what staff you hire, what merchandise you want to sell, what price to sell tickets at, and more. Your goal is to juggle fan happiness, player happiness, staff happiness, and, of course, your own team’s profit. Everything you do affects these parameters, from changing your team’s uniform to firing your shitty head coach. Heck, you can even relocate your team if you are doing poorly enough. These are your Dublin, Ireland Jets!
It’s undeniable that Owner mode is pretty much the furthest thing from actual football. It feels a lot more like a simulation game, such as SimCity or RollerCoaster Tycoon. Sure, you can still boot up games and play in them, and decisions that your owner makes, mostly in staff and player contracts, do affect player performance on the field. However, you will ask yourself if you will build a new stadium far more often than you will ask what play you will run. Still, this mode is highly addicting and might be the most fun thing that Madden 25 has to offer. Who knew that playing a rich football-superfan-turned-team-owner could be so much fun.