With the launch of a new generation of consoles on the horizon and a new version of Madden 25 expected with it, it would have been easy for developer EA Tiburon to pack it in for Madden 25 on current gen consoles. While they did not do that, the latest version of the annual football sim fails to deliver the innovation expected with each new season. However, the game is far from a repackaging of Madden 13. This year’s Madden title boasts a few enhancements, including an upgraded Infinity engine and more game modes. The result is a slightly better version of Madden that feels more like a Madden 13 update than a full-fledged entry into the series.
While last year brought a new game engine, this year’s big addition is Run Free technology. The Run Free system supposedly makes it easier to break tackles and rush for big gains but it is just a pointless button modifier. Players hold down the left trigger while using the left stick to perform a beefed up version of a juke move. Unfortunately, the juke or stiff arm executed while holding down the left trigger is not any more effective than a regular move without using the button modifier so players are pressing an extra button to achieve the same result.
Despite not working as advertised, the Run Free system must have some affect on the running game because rushing plays rarely result in negative yardage. Short gains are easy to achieve but racking up large runs is not as easy as receivers and tight ends tend to miss blocks in the secondary. Missed blocks are also a problem on blitzes. Defensive players crowd the line and work their way in with little resistance. In the unbalanced system, players can run more blitzes without the risk of being burned defensively.
The poor A.I. also spills over to the skill positions. Quarterbacks rarely throw the ball away to avoid big losses, ball carriers often fail to run out of bounds with the clock winding down and, perhaps the biggest annoyance with the game, receivers do not work to keep their feet in-bounds on catches made near the sidelines.
All the same modes gamers expect from Madden are back with the addition of a new Skills Trainer mode. The game mode features drills designed to help players master passing, running and defense. Gamers attempt to win bronze, silver or gold medals by achieving specific tasks outlined in each drill. Veteran Madden players will have no use for the mode. Aside from a few achievements and a chance to get familiar with the new Run Free system, the mode offers little incentive.
The franchise staple, which is now called Connected Franchise, is back with a new option to start as an owner. Players can create a new owner or choose an existing NFL owner and take over their duties. As an owner, players will have to perform tasks such as setting ticket prices and renovating the stadium in order to appease fans. Owners can even relocate their franchise and change the team name. In addition, players who choose to be an owner can control roster moves and play full games. Of course, gamers can choose to play as a coach or player in Connected Franchise instead.
This year’s game includes a much-desired hub for online sharing. For the first time in Madden history, players can upload or download community-created rosters, settings and sliders. This is especially important because of the game’s poor default sliders.
Graphics & Sound
EA Tiburon made improvements to the Infinity engine for Madden 25 that make player movements more natural and eliminate the inhuman animations seen in Madden 13. When the developers implemented the new game engine last year, it was supposed to ensure players would not go through each other and hits would appear more realistic. While it eliminated ghosting effects, the Infinity engine caused on-field players to make unnatural movements to accomplish the task. In Madden 25, gamers will no longer see players bending their legs backwards in ways that are impossible in real life. Unfortunately, there are still blatantly obvious ghosting effects when players run through coaches, teammates and refs along the sidelines.
Coaches, refs and bench players on the sidelines look exactly the same as previous years. It would be nice to see EA put some effort into improving sideline interactions with on-field players. While crowds still look generic, crowd sounds are enhanced to make players feel like they are actually at the stadium. Authentic stadium music blares through speakers, getting crowds going in reaction to particular events on the field. They are minor details but they make a huge difference in Madden 25′s final product.
If there is one thing sports gamers should hope for with the next generation of consoles, it is better commentary. Perhaps play-by-play has been pushed to its limit on current gen consoles but that seems unrealistic given how consistently bad it is. The real broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are back for Madden 25 but their generic commentary is becoming a tired act. The duo constantly repeats the same calls, some of which are completely wrong, and rarely points out specific players on each team.
Overall, Madden 25 is another solid entry in the long-running franchise. The tried-and-true Madden formula works again this season and enough improvements have been made to keep players interested. However, it leaves players wanting more. With the next generation of Madden 25 casting a shadow over the current gen version, EA Tiburon did not do enough to step out of that shadow.
If possible improvement has gone as far as it can with current gen consoles, next-gen consoles couldn’t get here soon enough. Madden 25 gives gamers plenty of options and hours of fun but lacks the innovation that comes with each new season.
Ultimately, Madden 25 will be judged by its version for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. That’s lucky for EA Sports because fans looking for a great new football game for current gen consoles this year should stick with NCAA Football 14.