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Twenty-five years ago, just before President Ronald Reagan left office, the Madden Football franchise was introduced to the sports video gaming world. The Madden debuted on the the Apple II...
New Owner's Mode, Improvements to Running Game and Enhancements to Game Graphics and Physics
Madden May Have Outgrown Current Gaming Systems; Incremental Upgrades May Indicate Focus on Next Generation Madden Game for PS-4
Twenty-five years ago, just before President Ronald Reagan left office, the Madden Football franchise was introduced to the sports video gaming world. The Madden debuted on the the Apple II computer system and offered gamers really cool features such as having 22 players on the field, an innovative player fatigue sensor, the ability to control weather conditions (rain, snow or sunny conditions) and even an ambulance which would drive on the field to scoop up injured players, presumably to transport them for medical treatment (though the inaugural Madden game never did reveal the actual fate of these injured players). Following its inauspicious beginning, the Madden game quickly evolved into the sports video franchise by which all other sports video games are measured. Madden’s lengthy reign as the archetype of sports video games is a testament to EA Sport’s commitment to innovation and creativity, especially when considering the current video gaming environment where the shelf life of popular video games is measured in a few short years. Madden shows no sign of declining popularity. Shortly after its release on August 27, Madden sold its 100th millionth copy and remains the top selling sports video game in the US (2nd to Call of Duty for overall video game sales).
Let’s face it, the EA Tiburon team responsible for the Madden franchise may be a victim of it’s own success. In reviewing Madden 25, I am oddly reminded of the economic theory of “the law of diminishing returns.” Twenty-five years of successful innovation have resulted in an expectation that each new Madden game edition should produce at least some of revolutionary gaming enhancements and mind-blowing physics and graphics developments which have largely defined the Madden franchise throughout its evolution as the sports video game standard. Being so incredibly close to replicating the true NFL experience, the EA Madden development team is now only left with designing incremental game refinements and routine maintenance adjustments and tweaks which, unfortunately, do not provide Madden enthusiasts with the “gaming fix” to which they have become accustom..
With this thought in mind, my review recognizes that major upgrades to the Madden game on current generation of gaming systems may not be realistic, however, the enhancements incorporated into Madden 25 continue to make it the most realistic and immersive sports video gaming experience available today.
The most noticeable change that gamers will recognize in Madden 25 are enhancements to the game’s core physics system, the Infinity Engine 2, which render much smoother and more natural flowing player animations. Player movements in Madden 25 are simply more realistic, especially with the elimination of the cartoonish player antics and goofy player contortions of prior Madden editions, which often detracted from the illusion of a real NFL game. Moreover, while playing Madden 25, I was impressed with the absence of canned and repetitive animations and loved the fact that I never saw the same play sequence repeated during a game. Despite Madden 25’s incredible graphics and animation achievements there are further enhancements which can improve the immersive realism of the Madden game play. Hopefully soon, future Madden game iterations will render more realistic renditions of NFL crowds and stadium noises than the sterile versions prevalent in Madden 25. The ultimate would be to tailor each crowd to the stadium experience of each NFL team (e.g., terrible towels in Pittsburgh and Let's Go Cowboys chants in Dallas etc.
The Madden 25 playbook incorporates each of the new and innovative offenses that are trending in today’s NFL. Spread and “pistol” offenses and read option formations are available for the Chip Kelly coaching wannabes. Incorporating these new offenses into your team’s game plan offers great fun and excitement since successful execution relies on a unique blend of timing, intuition and foresight—just as it is with the real NFL counterparts. Additionally, the Madden 25 “precision modifier” feature introduces an added level of realism to the running game since running backs are now able to engage in a wide array of maneuvers such as spins, dives, jukes, stiff arms and hurdles that make for a more effective and realistic ground game. The precision modifier improvement successfully brings the running game back into play.
Each of the gaming modes from Madden 13 returns, except for the addition of the Owner’s Mode. In the Owner’s Mode you have complete control of an NFL franchise, including player’s salaries, team staff, stadium operation, media campaigns, team finances and even ticket, parking and concession prices. The Owners Mode feature has interesting potential for intriguing game play. With the introduction of the Owner’s Mode, Madden 25 essentially now offers the total NFL experience since gamers may pursue their football challenge of choice, as a player, a coach or an owner.
Typically, at this point of my review, I recommend to the reader whether the latest version of a video game is worth purchasing. Based on the incremental upgrades to Madden 25 I would ordinarily not recommend a “Buy.” However, Madden is different. The Madden game, along with a few other sports video franchises, has evolved from simply a sports video game to a sport, in and of itself. The New York Times recently quoted the director of Georgia Tech’s Digital Media graduate program, Ian Bojust, who aptly described the essence of fully evolved sports video games like Madden: “Sports video games are not simulations of sport, but variants of sport. Or, put differently, sports video games are another way to play the game.” For 99% of us who love the NFL the only way we can play the sport is through our Madden experience…so, for that reason alone I recommend a definite “Buy.”