Next-Gen Madden NFL 25: Hits and Misses

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Posted November 25th, 2013 at 5:15 pm

m25ngmccoykelly

Madden NFL 25 was a disappointment on the Xbox 360 and PS3 but the arrival of the Xbox One and PS4 brings promise of a fully featured product with improved gameplay and atmosphere. That would certainly represent a much better entry situation than how the previous generation was welcomed in and for the most part EA Sports has achieved that goal. It just may not be enough to get consumers excited since the base product it builds on was already lagging so far behind in the minds of many.

HITS

Subtle But Effective Gameplay Enhancements
The most evident improvement to the game comes with the offensive line blocking and defensive pass rush. Clean pockets are formed, ends handled properly, blitzes picked up, and assignments properly fulfilled. While the d-line still won’t get a consistent pass rush from the front four there are occasions where an edge rusher will beat the tackle and those instances look great.

The difficulty in the run game has been notched up due to a greater sense of player weight and momentum. It takes a few games to get accustomed to how to run but once comfortable it becomes more rewarding. There isn’t a whole lot of opportunity to use the special moves with the “Precision Modifier” though as attempting any kind of agile move just seems to be asking for trouble. This is especially seen in kickoff returns where it seems near impossible to get by the first tackler headed your way. That may have just as much do with blocking – they almost always are flying in unimpeded – but regardless not much success is found in the return game.

Improved AI is notable especially in the defense as the CPU has become much more challenging on the standard All-Pro difficulty setting. Defenders with their backs to the line of scrimmage won’t magically turn around as soon as the QB throws a pass. Poor QBs also throw more inaccurate passes thankfully. To that point there is greater differentiation in the players. Having an Earl Thomas roam the field feels like it matters more now than ever. Players will mercifully try to get their feet in-bounds for catches – but this remains not totally consistent.

Bad clock management by the CPU is still present as teams will often run the ball in late half/game situations only to call a timeout right after. There is still no real fight for the ball on deep throws (which are too often thrown short giving the advantage to the DB) or jump balls. There are also hitches in movement with defenders as they occasionally stop dead in their tracks for a split second for no reason allowing for separation. The CPU loves to hurdle for no reason making them vulnerable to big hits and giving up yards that would have been gained otherwise.

Fully Featured Product
EA Sports made a concerted effort to transfer over all the features present on the Xbox 360 and PS3 to the Xbox One and PS4. That includes the full Connected Franchise mode, Ultimate Team, and weekly roster updates. Online play has run exceptionally well and the better balanced gameplay has made them more enjoyable to play as a result. The only exceptions to this being a product where consumers know exactly what they are getting is with the loss of Game Face and the inability to import draft classes from NCAA Football 14.

New Console-Specific Additions
The big one here is the in-game saves for offline games. Leave a game in progress and resume it later even after switching to a different title or turning off the consoles. For games in Online Franchise those can’t be left and returned to but leaving them in a suspended state is a far more reasonable option with the new hardware. The PS4 offers screenshot and streaming capabilities while the Xbox One has highlight saving, editing, and uploading along with (currently broken) SmartGlass functionality. The stronger hardware means advancing in Franchise week-to-week is practically instantaneous.

m25ngint

MISSES

Living Worlds
For the most part what has been advertised as a new “Ignite Engine” has turned out to simply be a term encompassing the various improvements implemented in the games. Hyped aspects like interactive sidelines are simply not present – and those sidelines look just as bad as ever while coaches don’t react to events taking place. What’s more awkward than seeing completely emotionless representations of Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh? Celebration cut scenes are still poorly stitched together and don’t often fit within the context of what has just taken place.

The crowd is somewhat improved and reacts better to the events on the field but still has a ways to go. At least now the the stadium isn’t half empty because of rain or snow! Commentary does offer additional lines and references to information within a season in Franchise mode but that area is still largely lacking. There aren’t even any on-screen graphics or commentary references to standings and playoff positioning. Presentation as a whole has not changed from the 360/PS3 version outside of some crowd shots and a look at the owner in his box when playing as an owner in Franchise.

Deficiencies Carrying Over From Last-Gen
The weak presentation – and the lack of ties to events within a Franchise during games – still heavily damages the enjoyment that can be had with the title. The improved crowd doesn’t account for differences from stadium to stadium. There are still no surprise onside kicks and even the wind indicator still points in the wrong direction. Essentially the work completed went into the very specific areas of gameplay (blocking, AI, graphics) but otherwise the product is a carbon copy of the last-gen product in terms of presentation and features.

m25ngweddle

Had this been the game released at the end of August it likely would have been met with fairly positive reception. However as a next-gen title it falls short by failing to inspire in the same ways that NBA 2K14 and FIFA 14 have. It may be worth the $10 upgrade from 360 to One and it may be worth the $50 it is now on Amazon for those who didn’t play the previous-gen version. Meanwhile those who pass on it for whatever reason can feel comfortable knowing it’s not anything exceptional.

Once on next-gen though it’s hard to go back because it does immediately demonstrate a sense of advancement. Those improvements shouldn’t be discounted but the series is still far from reaching the level that consumers recognize it reasonably should be at.

  • mcjedi

    Same pig, just a more expensive lip stick…ps3 still good enough for me!

    • fantasyboi

      ya same here. specially with no export/import draft classes Madden for the PS4 will never be bought.

  • Havkid1

    Good to know, thanks!

  • James William Eccles

    awful

  • Dan Bertholomey

    Well said. Nice honest review as always. You’ve done a lot over the years but what’s most impressive is that you never sold out or compromised yourself for a free trip to Orlando or a free copy of a game. Respect! Refreshing. Keep up the great work.

    • Ryan Schechtman

      Orlando resident here. He isn’t missing much.

  • Iown You

    They could’ve done much better with all the time they had to put this game together. The pocket-forming is terribly inconsistent as evidenced by the videos, the commentary still sucks, Living Worlds are a joke, the animations are still terrible and the running animation is particularly awful, even worse than last gen.

    Operation Sports gave this game an 8. An 8!!! Laughable. OS as a site is laughable.

    Damn Tiburon, damn them to the deepest pits of hell!

    #BRINGBACK2KFOOTBALL

  • theuglytruth

    You forgot the smarter ai being a product of sliders being adjusted out of the box. Pass coverage is at 75 default while everything else is at 50.

  • Details

    I was very skeptical & had low expectations after seeing how shady EA was acting leading up to release. I got the game for free so i figured wth lol. I have to say the game is better than I thought it would be. I’ve been a huge Madden critic over the years but I’m also fair & honest. True Step is a huge welcomed addition to the game. It’s the biggest improvement to me & makes running the ball way more realistic (they need to make it apply to all 22 players on the field though). Weight & momentum seems to matter more than ever. Blocking is improved but it’s still suspect. The physics engine is a lot cleaner. The running animations are improved but still not where they need to be. We need SIGNATURE RUNNING ANIMATIONS EA! Ironically my biggest issues with the game is everything outside of the gameplay & I’m a gameplay 1st guy. EA needs to really nail the little details for Next Gen. Things like the crowd & camera men wearing shorts & tee shirts in snow games? WTF? Sideline players not having names on the back of their jerseys? Repetitive cutscenes, no halftime show, choppy frame rate after plays & on replays, etc…Details & presentation is what keeps you immersed. Overall I’m having some fun with it & for the 1st time I can say I like where the game is headed. That said, they need to blow us away next year!

    • Iown You

      “That said, they need to blow us away next year!”

      Oh, they’ll blow just like they have for 9+ years…

    • jr

      I definitely wasn’t gonna buy it but wifey brought it home Thursday so I figured why not. The difference is noticeable. Defensive ai in the passing game is just wow, even on all pro. I had to turn the slider down just to get a pass off lol. If they can build from it and make it better, they’re good. If not, I will be using roster share until they release something really next gen

    • Stanimal032

      100% agree with this post.

  • Brandon

    Are the menus usable on next gen, or are they still laggy and slow?

    • http://pastapadre.com/ pastapadre

      Much snappier.

    • Stanimal032

      Menu navigation is instantaneous.

  • DonRSD

    The Madden 06 ‘demo’ for PS3/360 with Strahan vs McNabb still looks better than the current PS4/XBO version.

    My God – EA has ruined the football genre.
    I played the PS4 version and the same stuff works from Madden 13!!! Yes, Madden 13. I wont buy another Madden again as they are boring.
    The graphics look the same too……no excuses for that.

    YAWN at NFL football games. Someone needs to come in and make a game. EA has effectively destroyed any interest I have in playing a football game & Ive been playing since Joe Montana Soorts Talk Football on Genesis when i was 12.

    • Brad

      That is just lazy insight. Don’t waste space on the message board.

    • agent916

      Stinks for you bud. If you’ve not actually played the PS4 version, you are missing a good football game. Many improvements just as Staniman1032 writes below, cannot be felt or seen until you actually play the game. This game is much better than the PS3 version. Highly recommend, and I never thought I would write that. It’s easily one of the better games that most companies completely whiffed when rating overall on the next gen console. A good game.

  • jokesonyouea

    yo because 2k doesnt have association, and fifa doesnt allow multiplayer seasons ill pass on these high powered next gen amazing graphic games that dont allow 8 friends do an offline association fantasy draft, or 4 friends in the same room play as brazil madrid or dortmund in an online season…..hella fun

  • createAteamOnline

    Still no create a team online play

  • fantasyboi

    YAAWWWWNNNN wake me up when more news about MLB The Show comes out

  • Stanimal032

    If you haven’t played the PS4 version, it’s a totally different feel than the PS3 version.

    Now, I’m not an EA fanboy by any means. I got banned from multiple forums for my criticism of the games and developers lack of innovation.

    However, I am pleasantly surprised by the version on PS4. The running game is much more realistic (BJGE is averaging around 3-4 YPC are opposed to 8-12 like he was in my PS3 version) and defensive AI is much improved.

    With the improvements they made in gameplay, I am willing to overlook the crowd and presentation issues this year. Solidifying the gameplay was my main concern and they have taken a HUGE step in the right direction. Keep improving it and THEN add the flash and I’m ok with it.

    A solid first entry on next-gen consoles that I would encourage people to try. You really do have to feel the gameplay to notice the difference. I saw videos upon release and thought “Same game, diff system” too until I got my hands on it.

    • Keith.

      Sorry for coming after you personally, but I’m confused by your statement that you’re “not an EA fanboy by any means.”

      Last month, you mentioned on here that you were “a moderator on [EA's] forums for years and was a senior mod this past year.”

      Looking at your twitter feed, I saw where you posted back in May 2013: “Revisiting @EA_Madden13 after a hiatus and it’s better than I remember. Excited for them to fine tune & build on this game”

      If you were an EA mod for years, and was impressed by Madden 13, and have continued to buy Madden25 for both PS3 and now PS4, I’d argue you’re not the most objective when it comes to giving a viewpoint about EA football.

      None of us have a problem if you like the game — but please don’t try to sell it like you’ve never liked EA’s version of football before and now all of a sudden they’ve turned the corner. There’s already enough EA plants on the web to begin with.

      • FamilyForceFire

        Well, I’d say this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Last year when brought forward about the problems in NBA2K13’s Playvision problems in MyCareer, you mentioned something along the lines (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Don’t know much about basketball so I don’t really care.” Not to mention some of your posts are downright shill behavior. You seem to be the only dude who enjoys the VC integration in 2K, not to mention how you seem to oppose “money-grab” concepts like Ultimate Team in titles like Madden, NCAA or FIFA, but whenever update posts for MyTeam in NBA2K come up you seem to be absent. And that’s not even recounting how much of a fan you stated you were for MLB The Show’s Diamond Dynasty mode. Maybe you’re a shill, maybe you aren’t, but you rarely respond to posts that point out your own behavior as well.

        Ciao.

        • Keith.

          Nonsense. Last year the early issues with PlayVision were the one problem I had with NBA2k13. Once those were fixed by patch, I said how happy I was that they addressed my one big complaint. As for The Show, it was Challenge of the Week that I was always hyping — I’ve never played The Show’s Diamond Dynasty mode for even 1 minute.

      • Stanimal032

        Everything you have said is true. I was a senior moderator and (with the exception of Madden 25 on PS3, I only rented that and chose not to buy) have bought and played every version since.

        Madden 13 was a solid step in the right direction with the new infinity engine. Madden 25 was a step back on last-gen consoles.

        I notice that you stated that I was a moderator for them, but failed to mention that I also stated I have since lost my status and have been banned from EA forums for my criticism of EA and their developers. One of the reasons I lost my senior moderator status was because I became critical of the game not improving and showing a lack of ingenuity from year to year.

        Just because I buy a game doesn’t mean that I am unable to form an objective opinion about it. I did buy many of the previous games, however, with the exception of Madden 13, I quickly returned them.

        One step forward and two steps back has been the EA mantra for years. Every good new addition was met with the elimination of something that was good, or the addition of something pointless (fight for the fumble, etc).

        I would argue that the fact that i have bought and played every version since the original game came out on SEGA Genesis, I am fully able to compare the product year to year and make a good analysis of the hits and misses of each year.

        You don’t have to take my advice and you don’t have to listen to me. All I’m asking is that you make the decision for yourself by testing the product rather than writing it off. EA has earned your skepticism and your doubt. I have no arguments with you there and no qualms with that. That is one of the reasons that I lost my moderator status with them.

        I, however, am impressed with this entry on PS4 and find it a solid building block for future entries. I just hope they don’t mess it up as they have a tendency of doing.

        • Keith.

          I think that’s fair enough full disclosure on your part.

          • Stanimal032

            Absolutely. I’m an open book! Got nothing to hide and no agenda!

            I just want a solid, SIM football experience. Madden hasn’t delivered that recently and Madden 25 next-gen isn’t perfect yet, but it’s a big step in the right direction.

          • Keith.

            That’s really all I want, too. Hopefully, with the various EA plants that are around, you can understand where I was coming from with my initial post (seems like you do).

      • Stanimal032

        I’m also a little worried that you dug 3 months into my twitter feed to “not attack me personally”

        • Keith.

          Didn’t really taken any digging on my part — your old Twitter account from when you were an EA Mod is still available to read, and the comment I quoted was near the top.

          • Stanimal032

            Ah, ok. I didn’t know that account was still up! My fault, Keith.

      • Stanimal032

        You don’t even have to buy it to form an opinion. Rent it from Gamefly and see for yourself. If you don’t like it, then at least you formed your own opinion from testing the product rather than watching videos and reading reviews.

  • Stanimal032

    Also, as he stated, the instantaneous advancing of weeks is awesome. Gets you out of the menus and back into the game ASAP.

  • Just a guy

    80% of your “Subtle But Effective Gameplay Enhancements” Hits area might want to be moved to the misses. You seem to complain about stuff more than say what’s good about it.

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