I cannot remember the last time that someone other than myself reviewed Madden for Console Monster. As the new Madden hit’s the shelves I find myself once again putting pen to paper as I delve into the inner-workings of EA’s latest offering in the franchise, Madden 25.

Madden has now reached its 25 year anniversary, hence the lack of a 14 tacked to the end of Madden. Unbelievable that Madden is as old as it is, even more unbelievable to think that the first ever Madden was released on the Apple II.

You would hope that EA have pulled out all the stops for this latest instalment in the series. Then again like recent Madden’s could it be nothing more than a slight graphical upgrade with tweaks here and there? Ultimately is Madden 25 an improvement over 13? I don’t really know if I’m honest. Whilst there are improvements, there are also a number of bugs that degrades the experience of playing Madden.

We’ll start with the Infinity Engine. This was brand new in Madden 13 and has been tweaked for Madden 25. This is generally what powers the gameplay in 25. First thing to note those stupid ragdoll animations that happened after a play had been called dead are no more. Sadly EA have gone to the opposite end of the spectrum and made the players into inanimate objects. After a couple of plays I noticed both the ball carrier and tackler simply lying together, catching some rays perhaps. Not an overly impressive sight I must hasten to add.

Then again animations during a play are very impressive. No two plays are alike. Whilst in one play a WR will leap into the air to grab a pass only for a Safety to take him out in mid-air, in another play that same Safety will wait until the WR’s feet have touched the turf before wiping him out with what can only be described as a belly bump.

Looking past how the engine looks, how does it react? There are a few issues but generally the tweaks have improved the Infinity Engine in Madden 25. The biggest change is the way you run with the ball. You can still do all the good stuff like stiff-arms and shimmies, but you can now make these moves all the more effective with the new ‘precision modifier’. Press the trigger whilst stiff-arming or twirling and suddenly you’ll find that your RB’s special moves are just that little bit more special. Naturally the statistically higher players are better at this than the lower guys, but you’ll still get a chance to use it no matter who’s lined up as your Running Back. It’s at its most potent when you choose to dive for the first down and you see your RB stretching out his hand to gain those precious extra inches, that’s when the game is at its best.

Over at QB there is nothing in the way of an upgrade, just a few more tweaks. The biggest addition that involves the QB is arguably the Read Option play. Sadly this is one of those additions which are going to be over-used and generally ‘cheesed’… especially online. With the Read-Option the QB reads the opposing DE (or basically whichever Defensive player is sealing the edge) and he’ll then run or hand-it-off. Sadly on the QB run it seems nine times out of ten the opposing D-Line all go to the HB, leaving the QB to run at will. I tested it running with Vick three times in succession and managed a 22yd run, 35yd run and finished with a 12yd TD run. This needs to be fixed by a patch, or a game of Madden online will be QB run vs QB run for four quarters.

The Defense if anything has been downgraded which is a bit of an issue. I’ve already spoken of the horrendous attempts at stopping the Read Option, sadly the passing game is a lot more difficult to stop and in fairness so is the running game. Man D has been taken down a notch and Zone D has been increased, sadly not enough. You can place D’s in a Hook Zone, Flat Zone and Deep Zone and still get beaten on the sideline time and time again. It still needs work. Interceptions are a nause too, when a player gets an INT it takes the game about 3 seconds to register what’s happened. The result is your defensive player running towards your own endzone as the camera hasn’t yet flipped. Say bye bye to INT’s returned for a TD as you lose all momentum having to re-adjust your player to face the right way.

The Defensive Line has supposedly been tinkered with. It is not the same Line you saw in Madden 13, sadly I think it’s gotten worse. Time and again you’ll try to spin or bull-rush past offensive linemen, and yet you’ll rarely get away from your block. You can push the O-Line backwards, sadly that’s about all you can do in Madden 25. This brings me swiftly on to defending the run. Outside runs were impossible to stop in 13, thankfully they do seem a lot easier to stop now, runs on the Inside or up the middle however is a different story. You can gain 4-7 yards on every running play sent up the middle. The Offensive Lines get a ridiculous push on the Defense and because of this your Running Back has an easy time picking up yard after yard after yard.

Now we come onto special teams, another area with issues. Returning Kicks is too easy. If you have a quick enough KR/PR you can simply run towards the embroiled mess that is the opposing special teams, when there’s five yards between you and the quickest tackler shimmie left, run up the sidelines… TD. It’ll at least get you to you 40 if not further.

So it’s all bad, bad, bad right? Not really. Whilst the game has issues, they can all be fixed with a patch. Yes EA shouldn’t have released it with so many bugs, but the game is still very enjoyable when you look past the bugs. Forget playing cheesy players online, play your friends who won’t run the read option on every down and I guarantee you’ll enjoy Madden 25.

Connected Careers has been once again revamped with brand new menus. There is also a General Manager mode along with Player and Coach. In GM you control everything to do with the team, from raising or lowering the price of potato chips, to possible team relocations. It gives you a degree of control rarely seen in Madden and is a nice change of pace. Ultimate Madden is back again with its trading card setup. Always a nice inclusion, one which has its own niche following.

You can also take a franchise online via Connected Careers or if you don’t want to worry about playing out an entire season you still have bog-standard head to head or 3 on 3 matches.

Amazingly I spent a lot of the review talking about the issues of Madden 25, but when it comes down to it the game is still deeply enjoyable. There’s tons to do, you can play as a coach, player or manager both on and offline. You can test out your luck with the card packs in Ultimate Madden. Or simply sharpen up in the training arena as you try to make Blaine Gabbert play like Aaron Rodgers.

EA will no doubt patch a lot of the issues currently present, but don’t make these issues turn you away from EAs’ latest game. NFL fan or not, you’ll have an absolute ball. There’s nothing better than bringing down the Dallas Cowboys by over-pricing their Tacos and selling Romo jerseys for $3000, pure bliss.

Lee Matthews

Lee is an avid gamer, photographer, film buff and sports fan. A scaly brat since birth it only seemed right for him to join Her Majesties Armed Forces of which he has been a proud member ever since. Despite a long absence from gaming, during which he spent many a night reminiscing about the glory days on Halo 2, Matty is now back online smashing his way through Black Ops and soon enough Gears of War 3 and Battlefield 3.

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