Madden 25 Xbox 360 Review
If you don’t notice or care about the little things and all you play is the beloved Franchise mode, you probably won’t enjoy the latest EA Sports has to offer in the Madden series. It truly is next generation gaming. I have not played Madden since 2011 and honestly, based on Madden history, I didn’t expect much. After doing some research there are a few noticeable differences between Madden 25 and the last couple of years. I am aware that Madden doesn’t have competitors like most games I play and that fact makes it easier for EA Sports to fall short and disappoint. With that being said, this installment was nothing short of great. EA Sports finally allows fans to play all sorts of game modes.
Madden 25 went with the true football experience tactic and it succeeded. It did take a couple play sessions to get used to the initial home screen but once you do, everything is where it should be. From my understanding, last year, EA got rid of the Franchise Mode. That was a personal favorite of mine. They gave it back to us this year, but it doesn’t look the same. It is now called Connected Franchise mode where you can be a player, coach, or even an owner once again. In owner mode, you can almost do anything. You can fire and hire a new coach. You have the freedom to move your team to a different city. And with this, that’s right, you can build a brand new stadium and set ticket prices. This is only half of the football experience you get. If this sounds like it may take up too much time, like it did for me, you can always choose player or coach mode.
The everlasting options are also available in game play. Each player, based on their position, has a different hot route. There is more than the usual three to choose from. The audible formation on defense works the exact same way.
You are either going to love the game play, or despise it. If you are a casual fan of the game, you are probably on the despise end of the spectrum. There are two major changes in this game that I saw. The first being the genuine football experience which I spoke about above; the other being the smoothness in all aspects of the game due to EA Tiburon’s continued work with the Infinity Engine.
Yes, having the ability to name the price of a box of popcorn is fun, but the in-game mode is where I noticed the biggest (yet subtle) advances. The Infinity Engine was introduced in Madden 13. In Madden 25, we have Infinity Engine 2. And every time I play, it feels less and less like a video game. Players seem to be more aware of their surroundings in this game. For example, before, a player would catch the ball near the sidelines and run straight out of bounds every time like there was 30 seconds left on the clock. Now, they will make the catch and their first instinct isn’t to run out of bounds; it is too turn up field and run. If they are close enough to the sideline where going out of bounds is the only option, they will drag their feet. It is easy to tell that there is more of an even level of play throughout the game. Scrambling quarterbacks like Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III are easier to contain and rarely break for that 60 yard TD run we are so used to seeing. Kickoffs are the same. There is no more of that stupid running to one end of the field and then circling to the other side to run up the line for a return touchdown that your younger brother always tried doing (and succeeded in previous versions).
Tackling isn’t just a lousy awkward fall on a player. You can see the legs of Aldon Smith bend while taking a quarterback to the ground. Defenders hit players high or low based on the circumstance and there isn’t that awkward “I just feel like laying on top of you” moment after the play. Like stated before, everything looks like it is supposed to happen. Those glitches are gone. When Tony Gonzalez spikes the ball, it simply goes up like it should, and goes down like it should, with just the right amount of bounce. It doesn’t hit the ground and die or go flying off the screen.
The biggest improvement: the running game. Yes, Adrian Peterson is unstoppable in real life. He is also the best running back in Madden 25, and he should be. With the right joy stick you have endless amounts of tactics you can use on defensive players. There is more than just the hurdle, spin, and dive. You actually have to practice to become good at them. With the right buttons, a running back can “truck” a linebacker and run over him. In essence, running is much easier, which I believe is better than being impossibly hard, which only gets me frustrated. You can always change the level of difficulty.
There are a few issues that need to be addressed though. Players are getting hurt left and right. Not just any players, the core players. This may be due the realistic nature of the game, but if your quarterback takes one bad hit, he’s probably out for the game. I simulated all four preseason games and somehow Eddie Lacy broke his collarbone game three and is out for six weeks. Aaron Rodgers got knocked out of the first regular season game and Randall Cobb was out two weeks. As I am writing this review, Jermichael Finley got injured and will not return for the remainder of the game. I will never turn off injuries, but come on, that’s half of my offense!
Another issue I encountered was the fact that you cannot save and quit in the middle of a game in Connected Franchise. If I am not mistaken, it is a norm for games to be able to do that. I don’t know what EA Sports was thinking but I consider that a major flaw. Perhaps an update will come with that being patched.
Per usual, the commentary is awful. As always, each commentator only has a few different sayings. When they are talking about another player, they only have one it seems. You cannot hear the refs and there isn’t a way to turn that up. Unfortunately, the commentating is too random in a real life game and it would be near impossible (and scary) if it could keep up with the game play.
There’s not much room for improvement as far as core the experience goes; however, there are more game modes to choose from and that is what Madden 25 is all about: choice. You can play the usual Franchise mode and take your dynasty to the Super Bowl for a three peat, but you can also play skills challenges to earn points to unlock players. The Ultimate Team mode isn’t new, but EA Tiburon revised it. In this mode, you are issued a pack of cards and you have enough players at the right positions to start a team. Unlike previous years, you aren’t an unbelievable team from the get-go. You play games with your team through personal challenges, against the computer or a live person with another ultimate team. As you win more coins, you can buy new packs of cards or unlock specific players. And much like any game that deals with coins or gold, you can purchase these players or cards with real money via micro-transactions. But of course, if you opt out of paying real money, your initial team will be horrendous.
A lot of casual gamers don’t care too much about the graphics of a game. I, on the other hand, notice them at first sight. The graphics in Madden 25 are excellent with only a few turnoffs that won’t make or break it. One of the most noticeable upgrades in graphics are the joints in player’s bodies. The ball doesn’t just miraculously stick to players fingers like before; you can actually see fingers curl over the ball and clench. Animations are outrageously important to the sports sim experience, and I’m glad to see Madden 25 received an obvious face lift.
I expected the graphics to be good, but not this good. After all, it is a sports game and we only care about the game play, right? Hair texture is always a tough one to perfect for developers and EA Tiburon didn’t get it this time either. There is another very noticeable glitch that I only noticed because it happens every time you call timeout, which is a little repetitive. It also strays away from their entire concept of the game: a true NFL experience. One of the more glaring inconsistencies was that of the lowly waterboy. I noticed the NPC aiming the bottle at my QB’s neck instead of face, and on top of that, there wasn’t any actual water dispensing from the container. Noticeable glitches like that, repetitive cut-scenes for touchdowns and timeouts, and random lag on the home screen that doesn’t permit me to give it a more solid score.
In short, all game play is smoother than ever before and you have options you’ve never heard of before. Whether it be an interception or a Chris Carter type falling-out-of-the-endzone dragging his feet catch for a Touchdown, it looks real-life. You have limitless ability in owner mode to build a franchise team or run them into the dirt. But don’t worry, if that’s the case, you can just clear house and start all over again. You have all the choices in life a player, coach, or owner has. Gameplay and concept wise, it will be the same on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but when it comes to graphics, I can’t imagine what EA Sports has in store for us when Madden 25 comes out later this year.