It’s not that I don’t like sports games. Sure, I’ve always thought that sports watchers learning the first and last name of the entire league’s roster is a bit much. On the other hand, I respect the nature of sports-based video game franchises. I’ve always had an appreciation for the dedication it takes to deliver a hard-core sports fans experience, year after year. So when Madden NFL 25 blitzed our review timeline I had to volunteer.

After all, Madden NFL 25 should represent everything the gaming world loves and reviles about sports franchises. Coming just a year after its predecessor, it’s unclear whether gamers really needed another Madden game. On the other hand, this year’s game includes new add-ons and comes as Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 are poised to introduce new paradigms to the gaming community.

So how does Madden NFL 25 fair?

[divider] The Old [/divider]

[one_half] Madden NFL 25 (1)

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The Old

As this is Madden, I won’t bother sharing details of touchdowns scored and the basic game experiences that users can expect. There have been 25 different versions of the game. Clearly everyone who is interested already knows that the game enables arm-chair football fans to take control of their favorite teams and league starts in a able for the most points.

Like every Madden title before it, EA claims that this year’s addition offers more realistic graphics, and that users can even expect their favorite players to move more fluidly. The standard updates also apply. The rosters have been updated – and continue to be updated once users connect the game to EA’s Origin services – and the game’s pre-made playbooks have all been recompiled.

If I’m giving you the impression that these updates are minor, let me assure you that they aren’t. Longtime Madden buyers love to revel in these features and I’m sure they’ll love this year’s updates. They just are neither exciting nor all that surprising.

Neither exciting nor all that surprising. That being said it’s Madden. You run or throw the football and score points. That’s all most players will care about.

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[divider] The Tested [/divider] [one_half] Madden NFL 25 (2)

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The Tested

Really, the new things here are the connected experiences that the next generation consoles enable for Madden NFL 25. For the Xbox One, those features include Kinect 2 enabled commands and the Xbox One’s exclusive CoachGlass interface.

Of the two, Kinect 2 sensor support is the clear winner. There’s nothing like being on defense and adapting your player position with your voice. On offense, the experience is the same, though you can also quickly call for a timeout, play types changes and more. Unfortunately, the feature’s reliabity depends on whether the Kinect 2 sensor is configured properly. As such, results seriously varied. When it worked it felt like magic. When it didn’t I was left trying to muddle my way through Madden NFL 25’s rather complicated controller configuration.

While CoachGlass is special, it’s not exactly what I’d describe as revolutionary. Users with an Xbox One SmartGlass equipped device can use the interface to choose and call different plays, quickly access player statistics and more. CoachGlass is nifty and useful, especially when you’re playing against a friend or family member who loves to sneak a peek at your plays for an advantage.

While CoachGlass is special, it’s not exactly what I’d describe as revolutionary.

[/one_half_last] [divider] The Connected [/divider] [one_half]

The Connected

As I understand it, there are an overwhelmingly large number of users who love to play games offline. (At least, there better be or all those Xbox One haters from this summer have a lot of explaining to do.)  While I’m sure there are users who will purchase Madden NFL 25 and play the game offline, doing so just feels wrong for a couple of different reasons.

For starters, playing the game offline feels wrong because many of its game modes are enhanced by internet connectivity. Connected Franchise, allows users to take over their team and play against other user’s teams, for example. Sure, players get offline versions of those modes but they simply don’t feel as alive or as exciting.

The second issue is that the game is heavily built around the internet and EA’s Origin’s server. Madden NFL 25 never lets you forget that either. It’s constantly checking for roster updates, and asking you to sign up for an Origin account when it can. I know that this will happen a lot more during this console generation, so I won’t beat them up too bad. Still, it needs to be said. Putting more login screens between a user and the game they paid for is fresh out of the “we don’t necessarily care about the user experience” playbook. Thankfully, once users sign in, that’s it. Still, it’s enough to drive a normal person to drink, in my opinion.

Madden NFL 25 never lets you forget that it is meant to be played online. Never.

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Madden NFL 25 (7)[/one_half_last] [divider] The Verdict [/divider]

The Verdict

I went into my evaluation of Madden NFL 25 with what I thought was a firm grasp of what users expect from a game like this. In this review I expected to ponder the merits of entirely rebuilt animation engines. I expected that I’d have to seriously delve into the world of active wearing football fields and automated play calling. What I found was that the things that make great football games aren’t all that different from other titles.

When other gaming franchises unnecessarily rehash the same game modes it’s called an unambitious title. When game developers add ancillary features to a long-serving game franchise, it’s called unnecessary. Simply put, Madden NFL 25 isn’t ambitious and it feels like it. Don’t get me wrong, the Kinect 2 integration here is killer, the graphics have improved, and I like the idea of creating hyper connected digital teams that battle against other users.

On the other hand, it’s ridiculous that the world’s only major-league football title doesn’t allow users to create their own teams. I shudder to understand how EA continues to release this game without a more robust tutorial beyond “press this button to do this thing” too.

When I began my digital download of Madden NFL 25 I expected to finally figure on why users buy this franchise year after year. Unfortunately, all I also wound up wondering why sane people spend $60 on the game year after year. I expected to find football at its best. I did. Madden NFL 25 is football at its best. Unfortunately, part of me feels like that’s just not good enough to warrant this year’s title.