Madden Football Final Thoughts
Throughout my testing of Madden NFL 25, I collected a long page of notes. To its credit, Madden 25 took a football non-fan with no prior experience with the game franchise and turned me into a armchair quarterback who yells at his television when the play doesn’t go as expected. Madden 25 got me hooked on the video game and its many facets, but I’m probably not going to run out and buy jerseys for anyone featured on the televised sport. In spite of this, there were occasions where I discovered that EA Sports really could have done things differently, or better. This section is my sounding board for critical feedback.
Beyond anything else I can say about this game, Madden NFL 25 is a gigantic undertaking at every level and mode. Seriously, I haven’t seen this much packed into one title, well, ever. Think of it this way: when you purchase a games like Battlefield, Medal of Honor, or Call of Duty, you get the single-player story missions and online games set to those same maps. With Madden 25, it’s like you get all three of those games, and then they add another that lets you politician and be the government that funds those armies through taxation programs. Madden NFL 25 gets deep, so deep you either need to have twenty-five years of experience playing the franchise’s titles, or tutorials on top of tutorials. You also need to know everything about the plays, players, positions, physical attributes, and commands used in professional football.
After a few weeks with Madden NFL 25, I can tell you that the game has a long list of pros and cons. Because this is a console-only video game, presently available on XBOX 360 and PS3 but soon to be released for XBOX ONE and PS4 (see the graphics quality preview), the graphics appear rough to anyone who plays DirectX-11 PC games. To keep the action moving at a fluid frame rate, football field details as well as the players and ‘people’ on them are displayed at low-detail during the play (seen below). Once the play is complete, flashbacks and instant replay footage are all shown in highest detail with smoothed edges and more defined textures. You get used to the hand-off (ha! puns!), but clearly Madden NFL 25 is designed for the newer hardware inside the latest-generation gaming consoles.
Of all my complaints, the most annoying problem I discovered with Madden NFL 25 was its inconsistent display of “Shift D-line / Point of Attack” and “Shift Defense / Guess Play” menus. You press the button to call up one of these menus, and use the stick to select the direction of your choice. Most times the menu will briefly disappear immediately after calling it up, costing you a second of decision making when only a few seconds are given (if any at all). Other times moving the left stick to select your choice will cause a flag on the play for off-sides movement – very annoying if you play at the line and want to fine-tune your blitz or running defense.
The first thing I did after installing Madden NFL 25 was play Madden Ultimate Team. I figured that it would let me get a taste of football with a team of legends, which I could use to learn how the plays worked in a base-case scenario. This led me to create my own team, without first understanding any of the attributes assigned to players and captains. Before long, I wanted to changes or delete my Madden 25 Ultimate team and start over. No such luck; EA Sports wants you to suffer or survive with your decision, and ignorance is apparently no excuse for redemption. You cannot change, retire, or delete your one and only allowed custom team in Madden NFL 25… which makes the game much less fun for eager beginners like me.
Other details were either cool, or frustrating, depending on your expectations. For example, when I created my team in Owner Mode for Connected Franchise, I elected (in regret) to draft my team instead of keeping the pre-created set of players. Little did I know that the draft schedule process would take the system over thirty minutes to complete, with no opportunity or ability to cancel the draft and choose the pre-created team… even if you power off or disconnect Internet. If you’re a hardcore fantasy sports enthusiast then this feature is for you and you won’t mind sitting around during the long wait, but everyone else is better off saving themselves time with the existing selection.
Another note was the customization of players and their equipment. You can change jersey numbers, college attended, whether they’re right of left handed, and occasionally their position within the team. Most of these items won’t make any difference to the game with exception to quarterbacks and possibly receivers. But then there’s the equipment, where you can choose from a huge list of real-world gear to customize a myriad of different options. But questions remain: will changing shoes make the runner faster, or the safety cover better? Will changing the helmet or visor have any effect on awareness? Do the gloves help with tackles or receptions, and will a hand-warmer or towel help? Will having larger or more padding help or hurt maneuverability? None of this is documented, and may or may not be purely cosmetic.