EA Sports caught major flack for the disaster that was Madden 06’s debut on the Xbox 360. For the beginning of what was next generation Madden at that time, EA delivered a subpar game that was a shell of its Xbox cousin. Madden diehards raged at the game’s missing features, poor control and the pretty graphics did little to quell their anger. Fast forward to Madden NFL 25 for next gen and it seems EA has learned from past mistakes putting out a feature rich gridiron title that matches its PS3/360 counterpart. The question is does familiarity breed gameplay contempt?
The answer to that question is a resounding no, Madden 25 for next gen is a different beast altogether. The first thing you’ll notice is EA fixed the annoying lag that plagued the menu system and navigating your way thru the user interface is no longer a chore. While every feature from Connected Franchise, Madden Ultimate Team, Skills Trainer, and Team Play, (features I covered in the August Madden review) make it into the PS4 version, it’s the effects the Ignite Engine and True Step have made on the gameplay that help distinguish itself from its PS3 cousin. The Ignite engine consists of a suite of cross-game technologies aimed at bringing sports to life with ever more realistic virtual athletes and environments. According to EA, Ignite’s Human Intelligence will imbue in-game players with the capacity to think like real athletes, thanks to split-second decision-making skills like knowing where to get open and bracing for collisions. This means defenders make smarter plays on the ball while it’s in the air, they take more intelligent routes to the offensive player and they make the proper defensive and offensive reads. True Step is Madden 25’s new locomotion system that was designed to account for factors like weight and momentum with more precision than ever before. Usually the hype beast EA generates about their features usually doesn’t quite live up to its billing, but in this case the difference True Step has on the game is profound. No longer can you run at full speed and cut on a dime, instead you’ll see players slow down and gather momentum again much slower and more realistically than we’ve ever seen in a Madden game. The differences between a half back that is quick and agile like a Darren Sproles as opposed to a lumbering Brandon Jacobs type back is very noticeable on the field. Another aspect that has helped make Madden 25 play more realistic is the way players movements are dictated by the position of their plant foot. This means that a player can only perform a move if his plant foot is on the ground, so you won’t see players spinning, juking or cutting when their plant foot is in the air. That subtle change also seemed to cut down on the amount of player sliding we have seen in previous-generation Maddens. EA was able to harness the power of the new consoles to ensure that every move a player makes is in-sync with his feet and that weight and momentum are always considered.
Defensively, Madden 25 has made some strides for the better on next-gen. While the lack of a pass rush plagues the PS3/360 version of the game, this is a non-issue now, leading to overall improved defensive play. You’ll see defensive lines get more pressure and you won’t have a lot of time twiddling your analog stick in the pocket without taking a sack. That isn’t to say the offense will be completely at the mercy of the defense now though, because the A.I. does a better job creating a pocket around the quarterback. Also the offensive line does a better job recognizing whose blitzing and the guys they should be double-teaming on the edge.
Don’t get it twisted, while Madden 25 might look identical to its previous gen version, only once you get it on the gridiron do you realize you’re playing a more refined and sophisticated game of football. Sure, we get the same exact features of its PS3/360 cousin and the same stale commentary, but ultimately this is what people wanted and for the most part EA delivered.—written by DJ Rhude (@DJRhude)
XXL Rating: XL
Madden 25 was reviewed on a retail copy provided by EA Sports.