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Madden NFL 25

Score: 92%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Co-Op 2 - 4, Online 2 - 6, Online Co-Op 2 - 3)
Genre: Sports (Football)/ Simulation/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

For the 25th anniversary of the legendary Madden franchise, the team over at EA Tiburon has taken to improving a lot of the physics-based animations which makes the gameplay look incredible. A lot of the glitches from last yearís first attempt at the Infinity Engine have been fixed and upgraded in Madden NFL 25. What this means is that just about every tackle feels relatively unique, giving a lot of life into a game that started out as stiff sprites a quarter-century ago.

This doesnít mean that Madden NFL 25 is all bells and whistles though. Unfortunately, a good number of player and coach models left a bit of a cloud of disappointment over an otherwise great looking game. For whatever reason, it looked like some of the coaches worked out at the Brock Lesner school of strength training (and they have the necks to prove it). There were also issues with the rendering of depth of field that distracted more than added to the gaming experience.

That aside, Madden NFL 25ís visuals are overall pleasing to the eye. The commentators do a fairly good job as well, with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms once again calling the action. Sound effects are typical for on and off the field actions and, again, add to the overall experience.


Gameplay:

After 25 years of gameplay experience, Madden NFL 25 does a fairly good job of once again offering new features to go with its tried and true methods. This yearís big improvement by and large comes two-fold, yet works hand-in-hand with each other. The improvements to physics-based movements on both offense and defense in the Infinity Engine 2 makes players truly have total freedom of movement and interaction. This improvement allows for some outstanding player controls dubbed the Precision Modifier.

At its surface, the Precision Modifier basically is an enhancement of the controls weíve come to use in recent years, like the juke, dive, jump, spin, and truck. By holding an additional button, you can now perform more powerful moves, but can also string together a two-move combo for things like jukes and spins. (Read more below in the Game Mechanics section.)

Madden NFL 25 also brings a few fan-requested features, one of which is the ability to control all 32 teams in Connected Franchise (formerly Connected Career). Other enhancements to this mode of play include the ability to choose how you want to start your career by choosing the best team/fit for your player and the ability to increase your XP much faster to help work toward a starting role more quickly. You can also control your team as the Owner, including things like relocating the team or building a new stadium.

Ultimate Team has been a hub for building a team of superstars to compete against others hoping to build the greatest franchise of all time. Here you can deal with your trading cards for players again, but also enter into a 10-game season with playoff repercussions. One thing that still remains is the ability for micro-transactions. Unfortunately, this continues to mean that those willing to pony up more money have a greater chance of adding superstars to their rosters. Congratulations on buying (and not earning) your championship, fellas.


Difficulty:

As always, Madden NFL 25 contains 4 difficulty modes to choose from so players of all skill levels have a landing point. Seasoned players tend to like to drop in on All-Pro or All-Madden, with the latter amping up the computer-controlled players significantly. This is where defense gets a bit harder, and precision passing becomes all-important.

Personally, Iíve always felt like I have a bit more of a lack of control on Defense. Like offense, you can perform pre-snap audibles and play-calling adjustments, but once the ball is snapped, the control does feel limited. The new controls do help out a bit and intercepting the ball feels a bit more attainable, but the balance just isnít quite there yet. Since the NFL has moved to an offensive league, I suppose itís somewhat fitting.

Aside from the difficulty settings and general gameplay issues, the game does offer up challenges and training drills to help you get accustomed to the controls, both old and new. The Precision Modifier controls arenít difficult, per se, but do take a bit of getting used to due to the need for quick reaction time and precise timing depending on the situation.


Game Mechanics:

Precision Modified controls is the buzz word surrounding Madden NFL 25 in terms of player control over the action, and itís not without good reason. With the quick pull of the Left Trigger, your controllerís face buttons and Right Analog Stick take on alternate controls without straying too far from the originals, certainly making it less confusing. The power of the modifier is that you can now perform specialized moves like spinning, while covering the ball and diving over the top at the goal line, while reaching the ball out for those additional important inches. With a quick twitch of the thumb stick downward, you can even help stabilize your runner when he stumbles or tap it forward to try and squeeze out extra yards. These controls do take some getting used to and will require specific timing to utilize to their fullest, but they are an excellent addition to the franchise.

In all, the 25th anniversary edition of the long-running franchise is a relatively solid title, adding some fan-requested features along with gameplay tweaks that remove some of the bugs from last yearís newly-adapted physics engine. While Madden NFL 25 may not be leaps and bounds ahead of last yearís title, it does make some solid improvements and enhancements that fans of the series may want to explore.


-Woody, GameVortex Communications
AKA Shane Wodele

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