Madden 25 is back on PlayStation 3 in what looks to be a swan song for the Gen3 system and the popular NFL sports franchise. In this 25th anniversary edition of Madden, EA Sports has packed in the new Run Free mechanic for the running game, a new incarnation of the Infinity Engine, and the new Connected Franchise Owner mode. Other improvements in this year’s edition include playbooks, blocking A.I. for offensive linemen, Option / Read-Only offensive plays, and a new skills trainer mode. Madden fanatics should be fairly satisfied with Madden 25, as there are plenty on-field enhancements to the franchise and enhancements to the game but the lack of game-changing features will ultimately be what Madden 25 for PS3 will be judged on by gamers.
Madden 25 does have plenty of new features and enhancements that gamers will notice right off the bat. The running game has been given a nice facelift in the form of the new Run Free feature and the many changes made to blocking at the line of scrimmage. Running the ball will be a slightly different experience for veterans of the franchise but ultimately plays much easier, as usual, when compared to the passing game. Improved with the Run Free system include spin moves, dives, hurdling, stiff-arms and other elements. Perhaps the most noticeable difference will be the stumble recovery system as players that make crazy moves or come off contact will stumble and for a brief nano-second, be able to recover and gain more yardage. Alternatively, players could opt to dive for more yards, or simply fail to do either and fall down.
The inclusion of last year’s Infinity Engine was seen as one of the biggest advances in the Madden franchise. This year, EA Sports has updated the physics system and dubbed it as “Infinity Engine 2″ and offered a new force impact system, much of which is covered by what is seen in the running game. There’s a more polished feel with Infinity Engine 2 as many of the strange physical collisions that would happen post-play are cleaned up this time around.
The Connected Franchise mode has also seen many improvements. Experience points now accrue quicker allowing upgrades to be redeemed at a quicker pace. To please a lot of fans, the A.I. logic for the draft, trades and free agency has been adjusted and make much more sense than last year’s edition. There is also 32-team control, added commissioner tools and the ability to import draft classes from NCAA Football 14. Perhaps the biggest change is the new “Owner Mode” inside the Connected Franchise, which allows players to take full control of an NFL team. From personnel, to ticket prices and stadium improvements, to merchandising, gamers dive into the life of a hands-on franchise owner.
This review would be remiss if it didn’t mention the love playbooks and the read-option offense has received in Madden 25. There are over 350 new plays inside the Madden playbook, with a nice emphasis on the new Pistol formation that has gained popularity with read-option offenses run in Seattle, San Francisco and Washington. Overall there are twenty new formations, two new legend coach playbooks and two regular playbooks offered.
Finally, one of the better new features in the game that hasn’t received enough publicity is the new skills trainer. There are fourteen different tutorials inside the skills trainer and even seasoned veterans of the Madden franchise would do well to spend a good amount of time in this section of the game. Some of the critical tutorials that players should learn is the Acceleration Burst tutorial, the Option Dive and Pitch tutorial, the Triple Option tutorial and the Offensive Hot Routes tutorial. Again, even this Madden vet learned a couple new tricks after spending a few hours in here.
On its own merits, Madden 25 plays as good a game of football as anything ever released. It’s light years ahead of where the Madden franchise was when Gen3 consoles (PS3 and Xbox 360) were first released many years ago. That said, sports game are inevitably judged on their merits based on a comparison to the year before. Given that assumption, Madden 25 plays in the passing game very similarly as Madden 13. The running game, however, does play a little different with the new A.I. enhancements at the line of scrimmage and the physics changes on running backs. The result though, is a very familiar on-field experience.
Playing a game of football is still a hell of a lot of fun in Madden 25. The players look great, the physics engine is extremely realistic and the new playbooks have added a new deep flavor to teams running the new Pistol formation offenses. Players will really enjoy the running game, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had on the other side of the ball. Running the ball continues to be much easier then throwing the ball when playing on All Pro or All Madden modes. Sound and graphics will be specifically discussed in further sections of this review, but both get good marks. In fact, the player chatter and the play-by-play showed noticeable improvement.
What Didn’t Impress
With all of the enhancements to the physics and the running game, players might assume this might add up to a massive difference, but it really doesn’t add up to that much difference over the last version. The passing game continues to be a sore point, with a ridiculous gap in difficulty between Pro and All Pro modes, so players should once again be ready to undergo some trial-and-error with the sliders to find a good balance. Overall, there is a lot to like within the in-game experience of Madden 25, it’s just that the bulk sum of a lot of neat small features don’t seem to add up to anything forcibly wow gamers on the field.
The Connected Franchise, whether played as a coach, player or owner offers hundreds of hours of gameplay. There’s so many details that even the biggest football nerd will be spending time running a team. The owner mode represents everything a sad, lonely, OCD and ADD football fanatic could ever possibly want in a video game. There’s a stunning amount of details to take control of with a franchise, to the point where this mode might not be recommended for the average Madden fan. It’s definitely worth checking out but setting prices on sweaters, tickets and budgeting stadium improvements seems more hassle than fun to this reviewer. Nevertheless, kudos for EA Sports for thinking of just about every conceibable element of running an NFL franchise.
Ultimate Madden Team continues to expand and allow players to build a team and try their hand at this unique mode of play. The incentive for players is to unlock some of the all-time legends of the game and fans of this type of Madden gameplay should enjoy it all the same from the experience of last year’s version.
Madden 25 definitely shines, but doesn’t wow when compared to Madden 13. Sure, the physics are slightly better and once gamers get used to it, the “stumbling” and “bouncing” running backs endure will be enjoyed. However, there’s nothing new here for players to really experience visually. Coaches still look weird, sidelines still seem sparsely populated and crowds look awkward. Perhaps it’s simply the limitation hit with the current line of console systems. The game looks slightly more polished with a slightly more evolved physics engine than the last edition, so while that’s no condemnation of this title, at the same time, it’s no ringing endorsement either.
The good news is that from an auditory perspective, Madden 25 has shown some nice improvement. There’s a lot more sensible chatter from players pre-snap which really adds to the ambiance of the game. The crowds still sound great and as always, Madden 25 boasts a killer soundtrack for stadium music and within the menus. One of the franchise’s long running sore points has been the play-by-play which is also improved in this year’s edition. While it still trails games like FIFA and NHL from EA Sports, it’s no longer an element of the game that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Ultimately, we’ll look back at Madden 25 for the PlayStation 3 as a great game on its own merits but one that really didn’t jump off the page as anything revolutionary. Gamers probably won’t consider this year’s edition a huge step forward for the franchise but will consider a worthwhile purchase. Don’t interpret that as a bad thing really, as Madden 25 plays as a wonderfully polished edition of the franchise that gamers can happily spend hundreds (thousands??) of hours within and be perfectly content. EA Sports released a solid entry with Madden 25, and sports gamers will be pleased with the game. Overall, it’s not going to make you fall off your couch, but it’s a great game that provides plenty of amazing football moments.