Our good friends at EA afforded me the pleasure of getting my hands on a review copy of EA’s annual NFL title Madden NFL 25.
I’ve for a long time have been a fan of the Madden series dating back to the games in the mid to late 1990’s which was essentially a good portion of my childhood. So every year I get excited to play the latest release of Madden.
This years Madden has the Infinity Engine 2.0 and it really shows, the game plays a lot smoother than last years game which to me felt rushed and unpolished, in fact once the NHL 13 demo came out I pretty much retired Madden 13, and that says a lot because I really like football, but I had a hard time getting into the game enough to tide me over to NHL 13. Between sloppy on the field play, and to me what felt like a incomplete Connected Careers mode, I was not impressed.
Now enter Madden 25, with the inclusion of owner mode, and Infinity Engine 2.0 it seems like the guys at EA had the right idea for the game, but do they execute on the plan? Let’s dig in and find out.
The game on the field is pretty solid, it is a good amount better than last years game. On offense it seems harder to do anything right, I can no longer complete slant passes with the same success as I used to, which is a good thing. The passing game is harder, but not only because of the CPU AI improvements, it also has to do with dropped passes as you will see in the full game video I will post a down further in the blog.
The bad thing for me is that I couldn’t get a good feel for the running game, so that is not the weapon that I expected it to be, which is good and bad. Because while I am struggling to use it properly, I am having a heck of a time trying to stop it when I am facing it. And that is not something I blame the game for, I have always sort of lacked the knowledge to put together a sound defensive gameplan for Madden. But it seems like whatever I try I am always allowing 3-5 yards per play and a spot long run to add to the frustration.
Overall gameplay wise the game plays pretty well, I haven’t seen anything in my time with the game that looked un-natural except maybe for possibly the lunging tackles but overall I don’t think those are excessive at all. Speaking of tackling I am thrilled to say that tackling seems much improved upon, which to me is great since one of my biggest problems with the tackling was it being fairly weak and ineffective.
After the play no longer are players toppling over one another nearly as much as they did in Madden 13.
One of the things I might suggest is that you increase the penalty sliders if you found that in prior games there were a lack of penalties, I bumped the default sliders from 50 to 70 to see if it made a difference and it really did, there were a good amount of penalties, not too many and not too few either, it seemed to strike a good balance between the two. I can only imagine a game with the slider all the way up for penalties.
Connected Franchise (Coach Mode) + Multi-Player Impressions
I tried this mode with my brother to get a feel for the multi-player experience in this mode. And I am glad I did because it gave me a chance to see what the multi-player experience was like and I can unfortunately say that this mode is not meant to be two players or more. Sure it is an option, but the speed of the menu’s and simulation speeds (about 45-60 secs per week simmed) and it can lead up to a time consuming process with preseason, regular season and post seasons to go through.
It is particularly annoying if you’re like us and take two teams that need to be rebuilt (Cardinals and Rams in this case since we wanted to be in the same division) and just want to get to the off-season as fast as possible. Couple in the fact that there is no way to simulate through the teams schedule screen and you kind of feel taken out of the experience of the mode because if you want to get a good feel on how good or bad it’s going you’d have to go through the menu system and look at the league or team schedule to view the game’s boxscores to see how your team performed on a given week. In my opinion what could have helped with the process is if the game had the scores displayed during the simulation process was going on so that you can see how your team did on any given week. You’d have a better idea of how close the games truly are as opposed to seeing your St. Louis Rams finish the season 2-14 and not know whether you’re in a lot of close games or in a lot of butt kickings.
However with that complaint the mode isn’t bad, in fact, once you get to managing your roster you will have some fun. Trades are not easy to pull off but they are fun to attempt. Especially in our cases where we did our best Bill Belichick impersonations and traded down the draft numerous times and accumulated picks in future drafts and the later rounds. Going into the next off-season as I write this I think we both have 3 first round picks from pick trading and player trading. For teams like ours that is the best strategy for the rebuild process of both teams moving forward with the focus on patience during the process.
My final thought on Coach Mode is this, it is a solid mode for those who want to be the GM without dealing with the ownership side of things. You can scout, sign free agents, trade, re-sign players and so on in this mode, so there is no need to dip into owner mode if you have no interest in setting ticket prices or keeping your stadium in tip top shape to appease ungrateful fictional fans who will just find a way to complain about the price of $1 sodas. In all seriousness though, coach mode is fun and enjoyable.
I just wish they made coach mode more multi-player friendly. For example if you are at the off-season and about to re-sign your free agents and you start out as one team and go through the re-signing process and switch over to the other team the mode starts you out on the main menu instead of keeping you at the re-sign stage so the second player can quickly do the process that is required to keep these players.
Surely that may seem like a minor thing, but the the time it takes to switch players and the menu system being so heavy and mildly on the slow side, the time really adds up over time.
However we did figure out how to deal with the draft. You can make selections for both teams on one coach, meaning that if you have a two player game going you can stay on the primary teams coach which is good because only the primary coach aka commissioner can advance the draft to the next users pick so being able to make the picks for all teams in the offline mode under the primary coach is a good way to save time. The only time you’d switch over is to make a trade to move up or down.
So as you can tell, multi-player is hit or miss depending on how patient you are. If you have enough time to wait through the simulation process and have the patience to deal with its quarks than you’ll enjoy the mode a lot. However if you’re not than you’re better off just doing one player.
Connected Careers (Owner Mode)
The long awaited return of owner mode, a mode I really loved on the PS2 when it was on those games. I was happy to see that it has finally made it’s long awaited return to Madden in Madden 25. But how does it play? Let’s dive in.
My first owner mode I started with the Bills (I’ll explain why I needed a second shortly) with the main idea of relocating them to Toronto, that was the one thing I was looking forward to doing in owner mode because, what’s the fun of the mode if you cannot relocate the team? So of course I tried to stay within a realistic possibility.
But before I could relocate I had to simulate a season so that I didn’t look like a complete butthole, so I did that and the Bills did terribly, but there were good things to come from it, EJ Manuel progressed nicely and the team was getting better thanks to the auto progression I choose to do since the mode takes enough time to simulate through. The Bills are slowly but surely becoming a better team.
Finally something is going right, the future is bright, I am bound to have a quarterback who will be able to compete with comparable Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks, with Tom Brady due to retire any day now, all I needed was to build a better structure around Manuel and company.
The first piece of business for me was to fire the level one God awful head coach. This is where I encountered my first issue within Owner Mode, for some reason from the staff re-hiring screen after the season, I was not able to fire the guy. I did this for two seasons before I gave up on this Owner Mode session and did another one.
But before we get to that and see if anything changed I want to touch briefly on the relocation process to Toronto because I feel like this is a major point of the mode, and it needs to be touched upon. As stated above I relocated to Toronto, I took the pre-determined name and logo with was the Huskies, not bad, I’ve seen cruddier pre-created team names and logos in EA games, so I was content with that part.
The part that was surprising to me once I got to Toronto was that my logo was that while my logo have the primary colors of black and blue with white boarders, and it looked nice in my mind, my uniforms were a pale dark green color with gold stripes. It made zero sense to me. The design of the jersey was great otherwise, it had a modern look to it, it was a similar style as what the Seahawks have with the exception of the colors. In Owner mode, when you relocate a team there is no way to edit the jerseys you wear, which is different from the owner modes in the past. If they just had a jersey creator in owner mode, this mismatch never would have happened.
With that out of the way let’s move on to Owner attempt number two. I used the Eagles and spiked the prices on everything so that I can replicate how the owners of the Flyers do their business since they’re like that. Anyway once I simmed the season the first thing I tried was to fire the coach, scout, and/or the trainer. And sure enough it was an option this time. So as I write this there is no assurance I can give you in terms of being able to hire/fire coaches since it is currently a 50-50 split in terms of success rate. I wonder if I messed up somehow the first time through, but then again I know others whom had the same issue, so I don’t think this is an isolated thing that is happening, but the problem is figuring out why it was happening to begin with.
Another thing that I found to be odd, and somewhat disappointing is that you no longer have offensive and defensive coordinators anymore nor do you have a special teams coach. This to me was a let down since it isn’t fair to put all the blame on one coach when there is really an entire staff behind the game plans on a given Sunday and for this game not to include that is disappointing.
Another thing I noticed was a lack of graphs the game has compared to the other games owner modes. For someone who takes an interest in finances and so on, that is one thing I really noticed when I was looking into the mode at first.
As much as I point out the negative stuff, I feel like owner mode/coach mode are really good modes now, and the owner mode in particular has the potential to be amazing and a strong piece of Madden moving forward in the future assuming it gets proper tweaks, and adding in a jersey customizer for the times a team relocates so that the same thing that happened in my experience can be avoided.
But overall the experience they give is pretty good, and EA added nice changes to the game between the return of owner mode and the return of multi-player in franchise mode, it just adds a lot to the game even if these seem like the smallest of additions.
Madden 25 added the Nike Skills Trainer over from NCAA football and added various drills so that people can learn the game better and its new features such as the improved running. This mode I skipped over but it is worthy of mention.
Connected Franchise also has a player mode just like last year, and it which remained pretty much unchanged outside of the addition of adding a screen for your player mode so that before you select a team it brings up a menu of all 32 teams and you can see where you see your player fitting in. For example if you’re using a quarterback you might fit in well with Jacksonville or Oakland better than Green Bay or New England. Madden 25 also has an improved skill points system for performances during played games and practices. For example even if you fail in the task you choose to bring into practice mode, you will still get experience points for going into the practice and trying to accomplish that task.
Madden 25 returns the Owner Mode and it comes with mixed results, it is mostly good but has a issue with the coach hiring and firing part. The lack of a jersey creator could make for an interesting situation with uniforms that don’t match the logos of relocated teams. Other than that owner mode is great and is a welcome addition and return to the Madden series. Coach Mode is also better with improved trade logic and draft logic. The re-introduction of multi-player is a welcome addition but also comes with a few annoyances that could be frustrating to gamers who are on a time crunch or have little patience at all.
On the field the game plays better than last year, but I feel like it is a step behind the NCAA Football ’14, not by much but NCAA felt a little more polished than Madden 25. The improvements to the run game seem a little too powerful to me, and the CPU passing on all-pro difficulty is usually insanely accurate. A great thing for gameplay this year is the physics and in particular a better tackling system.
Overall the game is a much better game than Madden NFL 13 in many ways, but it isn’t perfect. It has its moments of sloppiness, or just flat of features not working 100% of the time like the coach firing problem I had. But with that in mind this is a great stepping stone going forward into the future especially with the game heading to the Playstation 4 and Xbox One in November when the consoles release but even more so with Madden NFL 15 next summer.