on August 27, 2013
Madden NFL 25 is one of the most difficult to evaluate sports games in recent memory. It carries with it considerable value thanks to a deep feature set, distinct improvements to gameplay, and appreciable fun factor. For every positive though there seems to be something dragging it down from potential excellence. Features aren't completely fleshed out, gameplay looks and feels chaotic, and legacy issues remain unaddressed.
-Connected Franchise: This is obviously the big one - especially with the return of Owner mode - and I wrote over 3000 words and posted nearly 100 screenshots regarding it on my site detailing everything from the executive duties of an Owner and how things progressed within the entire Connected Franchise universe having played every game in a season and extended into year two.
Owner mode provides some compelling elements which will be especially fun when joined by friends but Connected Franchise as a whole fails again in tying events from the league into the actual games. That could severely dampen long-term enthusiasm towards the mode.
-Skills Trainer: Similar to NCAA Football 14 the Skills Trainer provides an opportunity to learn, improve, and refine play in very specific areas. It does a good job of teaching things like the option as well as aspects like hot routes and audibles which novices may need explanations on. There are also Ultimate Team bonuses given for getting "Gold" in each of the individual drills.
On the flip side it has the same faults as NCAA. Things that are out of the control of the user can screw up success. It gets frustrating going for the "Gold" and missing out because a receiver drops a pass or a defender sacks a QB when you needed to get an interception.
The Skills Trainer was personally approached with the hope of learning the new "Precision Modifier". Getting to test out the timing and various functions is the valuable thing here. What the Trainer didn't do was explain what "in range" actually means or go beyond just a handful of moves when there are 30 something combos possible.
-Madden Share: This is something that will become valuable as users get the game and start uploading their own personal content. During the evaluation period there were some files there to download but they may have just been tests from other users so it didn't make sense to spend time pulling any down not knowing whether they would make for quality useful content.
Files that can be uploaded/downloaded through Madden Share are rosters, playbooks, and slider sets. Video highlights can also be uploaded to the EA website.
Any roster set can be used to start a Connected Franchise including the user-edited ones obtained through Madden Share. Custom Playbooks can also be taken into CF.
-Ultimate Team and Online Play: Without many users to face online it would be inappropriate to judge Ultimate Team (which brings in the fun Seasons concept) or online play performance in general. Will update this section at a later date.
Many of the enhancements apparent in Madden NFL 25 were first introduced in NCAA Football 14. The two series share a gameplay development team which means Infinity Engine 2.0, work done to the offensive line, enhanced player control, and much more are found in both. It might be the more wide-open gameplay or the lesser talent on the field but NCAA 14 plays a much cleaner game than Madden 25.
Sloppy is the best way to describe Madden's gameplay this year. It feels that way when playing it and it looks that way when watching it. There are glimpses of good things - there's no doubt about that and it can still be fun to play - but overall it's hard not to walk away and say it's a mess despite that.
The Infinity Engine seems to have been downgraded not enhanced. There is a distinct lack of tackles appearing organic (or any impact between players or gang tackles) and instead you get an overload of frantic collisions and guys knocking into and off one another plus bizarre looking pileups. Everything is much stiffer than last year and even what was played back at E3.
CPU QB's are competent if not unrealistically so. Other than one or two boneheaded throws each game - even the highest rated QBs will do that - they march their teams up and down the field fairly consistently. Completion percentages in the demo were ridiculously high. They haven't been as bad in the final version of the game. Lower rated QBs might even struggle at times though that usually isn't for the entire game. The one time that happened was holding Brandon Weeden to under 50%. Most other games are around 70% or higher even from guys like Mark Sanchez.
There are a few reasons this seems to be the case. Few throws will hit the ground. They'll more likely be jarred loose in a hit or intercepted. QBs are generally accurate and they find receivers in big space pretty often. Whether poor zone or man coverage is to blame is difficult to determine.
The pass rush is also inconsistent. Most sacks aren't due to immediate pressure but end up as coverage sacks. In my franchise I had some success controlling Cameron Wake and forcing off-target throws. The user shouldn't be forced to play the D-line (and not everyone has a Wake) in order to get pressure on the QB.
CPU running backs can threaten and they tore me up a few times in my franchise season, but that becomes an afterthought to trying to find a way to stop the QB. Heavy blitzing may be needed to push the CPU into third and long situations where their success level dramatically drops. Third and short or mid they probably convert over 75% of the time when the actual NFL average on third downs is around 39%. CPU punters are still idiots and kick it into the end zone at every opportunity. The CPU kickers only missed one field goal against me the entire season (short and off the bar rather than wide).
The "Precision Modifier" is going to have its share of supporters and detractors. On one side it adds more dynamic and exciting events. On the other it doesn't balance out well in terms of risk and in some cases, with the right players and the right timing, can almost be unstoppable. I'm personally not a fan of it in concept or execution.
It's interesting EA made this an option because there is very little reason not to just hold down the left trigger at all times when running forward. In my franchise season there were two fumbles noted while using the modifier with a back or receiver out of 14 total on the season. Of course there were more instances where contact took place without the modifier activated than with it, but that still goes to show there is very little or no correlation to turnovers and using the modifier.
Going up against a shifty player in open space controlled by someone who has the modifier down will undoubtedly be frustrating. Even power guys, when they stiff arm, end up dragging the defender sometimes 10 yards down the field in that animation. There was also an instance where Darren Sproles stiff-armed a linebacker to the ground.
The CPU will use some modifier moves though somewhat infrequently. The over and over spinning seen in the demo definitely wasn't present in any of the games played with the final version. What they will do is awkwardly throw out stiff-arms when no one is even in range.
The read-option is a lot of fun to utilize and is represented well in Madden. While some thought it was too easy in NCAA Football this year there is more balance found in Madden considering the talent of the defenders, the rate of fumbles being higher, and the always looming risk of injury. A fragile quarterback is not going to be able to take hits during a game and survive it. There were also instances where the QB would make the right read and still get crushed by a defender who identified it. The CPU only used it a few times with Cam Newton and Geno Smith running it sparsely in my franchise season.
The one play I may start removing from my playbook: HB Draws. It seems as though the offensive line frequently gets pushed so far back that the runner has no where to go once the ball is handed off. The one I'll be using more frequently: WR Screens. Against a soft defense getting the ball in open space to a quick and agile target can result in big plays.
As was the case with the demo there are issues with catch attempts at the sidelines. Quite often a receiver won't make a concerted effort to get their feet down when they seemingly have plenty of space to do so. Even top rated receivers don't always complete the catch in bounds.
Deep shots downfield can also be troublesome. This is where most of the INTs came off the CPU and in pass breakups by the CPU. In one-on-one coverage on a leading-lob pass the ball rarely gets over the top. User picks are easy to make on those attempts. Even with a step on the defender the ball usually ends up short and incomplete or picked off.
Those looking for more penalties will still not be satisfied. My team committed 12 over the 17 games played in the season. A few of them were self-inflicted (defensive offsides, false starts, late hits on QB) and the others were some for clipping, a few personal fouls for late hits on the sideline, one facemask, and one offensive pass interference that was called on my left guard.
The Hit Stick finally has some use again as big hits do force some fumbles. Holding the stick down also activates "Heat Seeker Tackling" which acts somewhat as a magnet when in range but if out of range results in a big whiff.
I went into injuries at length in the franchise write-up. There are lots of them, which doesn't make it unrealistic, but the same players seem to get hit with them over and over and its usually key contributors.
In fourth and short situations coming out in goal line the CPU does not match unless near the goal line. That makes sneaks essentially automatic. The only thing to worry about would be the QB getting injured.
The booth will automatically review a close touchdown as they should, but never review close turnovers and the user isn't even given the option of manually challenging them. This was something mentioned last year as an issue that apparently didn't make it onto the radar to get fixed. This omission upsets me.
There are five camera angles including "Legacy" which is the standard one from recent years. Considering how many expressed hatred towards the new standard camera angle that was locked in for the demo it's important to note that.
Like everything else in Madden NFL 25 presentation has its ups and downs. There are only a few different game openings, personalized celebrations look alright but they're done within awkward cut scenes, the halftime show isn't a halftime show, the lack of ties during games to league events dampen interest in Franchise mode, and commentary hasn't taken a big jump. The intro videos for primetime or playoff games in Franchise mode though are pretty cool.
Commentary is steady but it's surprising how little has been added or old lines thinned out. If I have to hear Phil Simms criticize a QB for checking down again, the one where he says it's just the QB worried about stats, my head might explode. In general for year two in the booth there is still too much left unspecified in their calls. "What a win for that one team" is literally something that was said after a game.
Danielle Bellini is the new sideline reporter and fits in well but most of what she has to report is very generic and often leaves out identifying the team or player names. Where she's most valuable is reporting on injuries at different points in the game. Unfortunately even with those she's stuck saying something about how the team wouldn't tell her what was wrong with the player. "The team wouldn't say." So then what's the point?
The touchdown and sack celebrations look good upon first viewing. The more they're seen though the more looks wrong with them. Players will show up out of no where to celebrate, it'll happen in spots where the play hadn't ended, the camera view may be blocked by other players, or it's noticed that there are no other people actually on the field. What's worse though is how players just stop and stand there after crossing the goal line or catching a pass for a score before a celebration or replay kicks in.
Auto-replays also have issues with individuals being lingered on from a single camera for too long. In some cases players run towards the camera and end up out of frame as they approach it. The graphics, while still largely excellent, seem far more muddied and flat (the lighting in particular) than recent years.
Rain and snow thin the crowd out to about 60% of capacity. Even in franchise for the Super Bowl fans apparently won't show up due to bad weather. Outside of a few team specific crowd chants or PA sounds the atmosphere in games is uniform from stadium to stadium. Hopefully with the "Living Worlds" part of the next-gen Ignite Engine they'll get some definition to the unique experiences that each fan base and stadium delivers. It should also be noted that the crowd still reacts improperly to the results of challenges. They'll boo a favorable result.
The post-game "Never Say Never Moment of the Game" is almost always a let down. Generally the play of the game is identified as a field goal that didn't actually determine the outcome. Or even worse an extra point.
-The wind indicator is reversed. How this seems to happen year after year is beyond me. It can even be seen in how the rain or snow is being pushed one direction and the indicator pointing the opposite way. Keep that in mind with any kicks and adjust accordingly.
-Another release that doesn't include surprise onside kicks.
-Game results can be shared on Facebook but the share to Twitter functionality is gone.
-There is still no screenshot feature included. The next-gen systems will have that built in.
-If a team is running out the clock when kneeling and the opponent has no timeouts can we get a chew clock option for that in the future please?
Madden NFL 25 feels like a 10 week bridge to next-gen rather than hitting a pinnacle in the way the series did late in the PS2/Xbox generation. It may satisfy many - there certainly are improvements over last year both on the field and off despite the gripes that will be had - but there will sadly be no Madden reaching "classic" status during the 360 and PS3 generation.
on August 27, 2013
Original Author: Steven Mayernick
The 25th anniversary of Madden brings a renewed hope in the series following what was a promising iteration last year. With a refined version of the infinity engine, a running mechanic known as the "precision modifier," and the introduction of owner mode, there's no questioning the Madden team's ambition this cycle.
While these additions hardly render Madden 25 another "roster update," I can't help but question the philosophy of the development team as a whole this year. Instead of solidifying the solid foundation they laid down a year ago, the team decided to again implement a number of new features. In so doing, we are left with a game that suffers from many of the same issues it did last year.
Madden 13 took a very positive step in delivering an authentic TV broadcast. While there are some clear improvements in Madden25, the CBS style music is gone, as are the TV style intros. Instead, we have game previews that feature a clip of the city - which is a neat addition, but it gets old quickly. The main menu got a much needed overhaul as well, with the Madden team opting for a tiled menu. I find the menu itself incredibly counter-intuitive and confusing relative to NCAA Football 14s similarly styled menu.
That said, there are some definite positives as far as presentation. Crowd noise is still nowhere close to where it needs to be, but it is distinctly better than it has been in years past. Crowds seem to react better during big plays, and some stadium chants have been brought over from NCAA Football 14. Sideline reporter Danielle Belinni joins the team with pregame, halftime, and injury updates, but never has anything particularly specific or interesting to say. For whatever reason, Belinni chooses to talk about the backup quarterback during each halftime presentation.
The broadcast team of Nantz and Simms is vastly improved, both in the accuracy of their commentary and refreshing new awareness of everything going on with both your team and around the league. Gone are the days of them referring to Eli Manning as the reigning Super Bowl Champion six years into franchise mode. Instead, the commentary is dynamic and fluid - ever evolving along with your virtual football world.
As I packed up my bags and announced I was moving the Jaguars to London, the duo discussed it at length during my final home game. When I landed in London, they spoke about how fantastic it was to see the NFL finally go global, and how they think the market in London will support a team well. At one point, I found myself surrendering a ton of third down conversion, only to have Nantz point out how much I'd struggled in the same department the previous week. He was right, I most certainly had.
The default camera angle has seen a slight change, as users will now be slightly more zoomed out then they were in previous iterations. It definitely takes some getting used to, but after a while, I grew fond of it. The "zoomed" camera angle is another option along with broadcast. Though I found the angle unplayable in NCAA Football 14, the zoomed camera angle is surprisingly enjoyable in Madden 25. The camera backs up quickly and seamlessly enough for you to have vision of the full field, though pre-snap you have to move left and right to see your X and Z receivers.
Though much of the presentation upgrades are welcomed, the game is not without its share of minor annoyances in this department. The cut scenes of coaches on the sideline suffer from the Soap Opera Effect, a term videophiles use to describe a motion smoothing mechanic used to compensate for blurring. For those less technical, you'll see a notice a very unnatural sliding effect when cutting to the coaches. It's nauseating, though I would expect some people notice it more than others.
Even more annoying is the field goal kicking camera, which EA has still left at an awkwardly high angle that makes it difficult to kick. By this point, I would've expected EA to come to terms with the fact that everyone hits RT/R2 to cycle back to the classic kicking camera, one much more conducive to accurate kicking.
All in all, the game atmosphere still feels somewhat listless. Writing this review whilst watching an NFL preseason game just reinforces that opinion, as the preseason crowd in Jacksonville is substantially louder and more responsive then my Madden NFC Championship game played in MetLife Stadium earlier today.
Madden 25 introduces the new precision modifier (LT/L1), a gameplay mechanic that gives users complete control of their ball carrier. Bigger backs feel much different than scat backs, and the moves you can pull off seem very dependent on the ratings of the ball carrier. Having said that, the moves in general seem a bit overpowered, if only because even the most athletic of defenders seem a whole lot less agile than their offensive counterparts.
The Infinity Engine is back and thankfully much improved. Gone are the days of running into your offensive lineman and falling down. Instead, running backs will maneuver through and around the big boys, as they realistically navigate their way out of the backfield and through gaps. The game seems to truly reward patient runners - waiting to find that opening and accelerate through it.
The force impact system and stumble mechanic, which were both present in NCAA 14, are also in Madden 25. While the stumble mechanic feels more responsive in Madden, the force impact system is still a bit overpowered. Far too often am I seeing small backs truck big LBs and safeties they simply have no business trucking.
Also present is the foot planting that was in NCAA Football 14 as well. The foot planting is, by far, the best addition gameplay. Zig zag runs are gone, as you will now see a player have plant and drive to shift his momentum while changing directions. I'm happy to report that the speed at which they do so is contingent upon that player's acceleration and agility ratings. Unfortunately, the game plays substantially more arcade than NCAA Football 14 in this regard, as player movements seem less pronounced and nuanced.
Run blocking was completely revamped as well. Seldom do you see a blocker miss an assignment, and pulling guards are much quicker getting across the line to pick up a defender. While the logic itself is refreshingly realistic, run blocking in general is highly overpowered. Tight ends drive good defensive ends back 5 yards, and there is still some suction blocking present. Several times I've seen defenders beat their blockers and re-engage for no reason whatsoever, particularly against running plays.
The passing game remains largely the same, at least offensively. Precision passing is still too powerful, and lob passes are rarely a viable choice. Indeed, passing trajectory is in need of a serious overhaul, as the game rewards players who unrealistically throw strikes the second their player gets a bit of separation on a corner route or post pattern. In reality, those balls need more air under them, as the angle of the throw makes it easy for the defender to bat down a line-drive throw. Additionally, there still seems to be little differentiation between top quarterbacks and fourth or fifth tier ones.
Coverage is, without a doubt, the worst it's been in some time. While there have been noticeable improvements to the buzz zone (players won't creep up into the flat), deep safety play and hook zones are abysmal. Zone defenders seem lost, and completely oblivious to their ever-changing surroundings. If you run a slant through cover 2 sink, defenders will drop in their specific zones and watch as the receiver slices right through them, making no attempt to pass off assignments or adjust accordingly.
Safety play suffers from the same, as even the best safeties seem content to sit back in their zone irrespective of what's happening on the field. I ran four verticals against the CPU on All Madden and watched my outside receiver get locked up by Darrelle Revis, while my slot receiver blew past the linebacker. Instead of adjusting to help the linebacker who had clearly been beaten, the safety stayed put in no man's land, in no position to make a play on either potential throw.
Even more so than zone, off man coverage is entirely useless. While curls and outs remain the two dominant routes, there is really no route an off man defender plays well at all. I saw 65 overall WR Michael Preston beat Revis in off man coverage on curls and out routes 20/20 times on All Madden difficulty. While I will concede an out route should be very hard to stop in off man coverage, the rating differences between the two players should mitigate that advantage to a large extent. As for curls? In NCAA Football 14, off man defenders play curls and comebacks substantially better than they do in Madden.
While off man and zone are weak, 2 man under is again overpowered. I find it incredibly frustrating that the only reliable coverage in Madden is seemingly too reliable. Generally speaking, wheel routes and slants should eat up 2 man under, but the latter seems to result in far too many interceptions this year. Slants can work, but only under the right circumstances. If you're lined up against Richard Sherman, even Calvin Johnson struggles to get off man under with a slant. Comebacks are a route that can't be pressed, and seem to be the only consistent counter to man under this year.
Pass blocking, much like run blocking, is far too strong on default settings. The pass rush is virtually non-existent; the little pass rush you do generate is always from the LE spot. Why the LT remains disproportionately dominant against the RE is truly baffling to me, but one can only hope this issue will be addressed in the next generation.
Madden 25 does, however, recognize the ever-growing trend of read option/pistol offenses in the NFL. Gamers with fast quarterbacks will have more plays and weapons at their disposal this time around, and it's nicely balanced in my opinion. If you're going to run with your QB, be advised you run the risk of an injury (yes, QBs can and will get injured this year) or a fumble. Defensively, you can set your defensive read (stay on QB or follow pitch man), which helps a great deal.
CPU clock management and play calling has noticeably improved. The CPU will no longer base an offense around draw plays or screens, though the former are still called too often in my opinion. Clock management has also improved dramatically. Now good QBs will run the 2 minute drill very effectively, using timely timeouts and spiking the ball when needed. Speaking of clock management, why Madden has again neglected a "chew clock" feature is beyond me. It's been a truly great addition to the NCAA Football series, and certainly would do wonders for Madden.
Special teams play remains largely unchanged, though the foot planting will certainly make kick returns more fun and realistic. Unfortunately, coverage teams still don't stay disciplined enough, crashing in on the outside, allowing a savvy user to manipulate and bait the coverage team inside, only to cut it back outside for an easy chunk of yardage.
Overall, the game itself feels fast and aracdey. While some of the gameplay additions translate very well on the field, the blocking logic is simply overpowered in both the running and passing games. The failure to address passing trajectories and coverages is mind boggling, and really holds the gameplay back from surpassing NCAA Football 14.
Connected Franchise/Owner Mode
Owner mode is back in Madden 25, and it's as good as ever. Take on the backstory of former player, lifelong fan, or financial mogul as you take over your franchise - with each backstory being tied to a few inherent and obvious advantages and disadvantages. You can also choose to take over as an existing owner, with all real owners licensed and in the game.
After taking over your franchise, you can rebuild your stadium, or even move (provided your stadium is in rough enough shape). There are 17 locations available, all of which are realistic football markets. Be careful, though, as you have to gauge fan interest in those markets and fan base styles (hardcore, bandwagon, etc). Once you settle on a location, you can choose to re-name (or maintain) your team name. Each city has 3 pre-determined names, which comes in handy for Phil Simms and Jim Nantz when discussing your team in-game. You also have 3 pre-determined uniform options, all of which have different fan ratings.
Relocation is a tremendous addition, and a feature I expect many will have a lot of fun with. I applaud the decision to pre-render uniforms, and limit the cities and names (if only so they could get the appropriate audio). It would be nice to have the ability to re-align the divisions, however. Moving the Bills to Los Angeles doesn't quite make sense from that stand point.
Being a successful owner is a balancing act- you have to balance team success, popularity, your staff, your stadium, concessions, merchandise, and ticket sales. Sure, it's enticing to move the Jaguars to London, but at what cost? Expect to be handicapped financially, at least initially. Why does this matter? For starters, all your bonus money comes from your "funds," or net revenue. You'll also need money to maintain and attract the best head coach, scout, and trainer - all of which have tangible benefits/drawbacks.
The mode forces you to make difficult decisions that affect both your bottom line and on-field performance. You can choose keep Tim Tebow in New England to use his personality rating (new this year) to sell tons of jerseys, but at what cost? What happens when Brady is gone and you need a reliable #1 or #2 quarterback? Make these decisions, but know why you're doing so. The media will scrutinize your every move, and you'll be tasked with choosing one of three responses that can affect team happiness, fan interest, and more.
Though having to assemble a staff is a lot of fun, one can't help but wonder why there are no coordinators or position coaches. I can only imagine how fun it would be to snag a stud coordinator from a rival franchise, or have to worry about that ambitious position coach who wants to be coordinator.
Connected franchise itself received a visual overhaul, and it looks great. Unlike the main menu, I find the franchise mode's menus very straight forward and easy to navigate. There are tabs for home, news, action, owner (if owner mode), team, and league. Statistical leaders, storylines, and standings are all easily accessible. The Twitter feed returns with some new material and pundits, and continues to make your franchise "world" come to life. The new trade center is much more user friendly, and there's finally a transaction log that documents every move that has been made.
While EA promised a much more intelligent CPU front office, I've had mixed results. To start, players like Giants DT Linval Joseph were inexplicably cut in the preseason. Joseph, who at age 24 is the highest rated DT on New York's roster, was the most egregious cut I saw, but there were a number of head scratchers. Michael Crabtree (91 ovr) was cut from the 49ers in the preseason of year 2. Like Joseph, Crabtree was in a contract year. I can't understand why the CPU would cut a marquee player that happens to be in a contract year. Even if they can't afford to resign him, a player like that should play out his contract, then simply not resigned.
Draft logic seems to be hit or miss as well. With the 2nd overall pick in the 2014 draft, the New York Jets took a quarterback, just one year removed from selecting Geno Smith high in the 2nd round. When I went to look at Geno's stats, I saw he was never even given a chance to play and prove himself.
As far as free agency is concerned, I saw players going to places that made sense. Reggie Wayne retired and Indy went out and grabbed Hakeem Nicks, while the Giants countered by bolstering a weak position (MLB) with the signing of Desmond Bishop. Unfortunately, I'm still seeing good, young players like Brandon Browner go through free agency without an offer.
The draft lacks any presentation upgrades, which is a bit of disappointment. Having said that, the storylines continue to be engaging and creative, and make the scouting experience more interesting. I still don't understand the decisions to allow people to rack up scouting points - it would be more realistic to require users to use up their allotted points every week or two, then have the points reset.
It's even more disappointing that we are still without a draft board, which would help users stay organized and be able to draft well if they happen to miss the draft itself. As far as the presentation itself, I was hoping for a mock 1st round draft (or some sort of preview), and final draft grades. These are features that have been removed and really need to find their way back into the game.
Draft player pools seem more top-heavy this year, which is welcomed. The classes themselves seem to have particular strengths and weaknesses, while each equipped with a unique set of gems and busts. I would like to see the game account for the fact that RBs are seldom drafted high in the first round these days, but the projections look much better overall.
There are some very minor annoyances in franchise mode, like the inability to hit one button and spend all your xp on upgrading a particular attribute. Speaking of upgrades, I still can't understand why you have the ability to upgrade (or even see) the development rating. Another minor annoyance is wind direction is still backwards in online franchise mode, which I find unfathomable. Also, though the sim statistics look good overall, but about half of the league's quarterbacks will have completion percentages under 50%. Lastly, they removed the ability to advance a franchise multiple weeks.
The addition of owner mode is great, don't get me wrong. Nevertheless, I can't help but feel like there are several important facets of franchise mode that weren't developed at all. While there is a player personality rating, none of that factors into contract negotiations or free agency. Some players should refuse to be back ups, play in small markets, or get paid less than the best at their respective position. As it stands now, contract negotiations are all too predictable and unrealistic. There are several factors that go into attracting a player that Madden just doesn't take into account.
Along the same lines, there is no risk/reward factor when putting together a roster. Without a player happiness rating (something tells me it's there but not impactful enough and not visible) and team chemistry ratings, personnel decisions are too black and white. The game will start with an 86 overall Randy Moss sitting in free agency. A player like that should force you to make a difficult decision - do I bring him on and potentially bring down team happiness and chemistry? As it stands now, there is no known tradeoff.
The resigning process should be a game within a game. Back loading and extending contracts should be options, and the occasional contract holdout would be a nice wrinkle, too. Again, players should have a distinct set of preferences and personalities that dictate their willingness to sign, and for how much.
Other Modes and Features
I'm not traditionally an ultimate team mode fan, but the addition of a team chemistry rating (yes, Ultimate Team has it but Franchise Mode doesn't) makes the mode a surprising amount of fun for me. Additionally, there are specific types of offenses and defenses you can build your team around, all of which seem to generate players that fit your team's strengths and weaknesses.
The Nike Skills Training Mode is a very nice addition as well. If you're new to the series, or simply want to get familiar with some of the new features, the training mode enables you to do so in a very straight forward manner. With all the new option plays in the game, I wouldn't be surprised if many vets lean on the training mode to get a feel for how it translates in Madden.
The All Madden team was a pretty genius idea, and fails to disappoint. Running read option with vintage Michael Vick is pure bliss, as is tossing balls up to Randy Moss in his prime. It was a trip down memory lane I suggest you all take, even if it's just once.
Madden 25 is hardly a worthy celebration for such a storied franchise. While many reviewers believe the changes made this year were granular in nature, I couldn't disagree more. I feel strongly the development team shot for the moon, but failed to secure the shuttle before doing so. By ignoring the development of many fundamental facets of both gameplay and franchise mode, the game struggles to impress despite some very nice additions.
It is worth noting, however, that many of the gameplay concerns can be resolved through slider adjustments, which seem to all work this year. While it's important to recognize the functionality of sliders, it's even more important to ensure they don't become a crutch for developers. Sliders should be a tool to make subtle changes based on player preference, not to make major changes out of necessity.
The game, to me, continues to reward stick skills, while discounting strategy. Most frustrating is the fact that some of these gameplay decisions can't be blamed on the current generation of hardware, as NCAA Football 14 does them much better. This leads me to believe that the emphasis was off for the Madden team - as it seems they built a game that has some great looking bullet points on the back of the box, but fails to deliver on the field.
+ Infinity Engine 2.0 is a huge upgrade over last year's version
+ Owner mode is well executed and an overall blast
+ Improved blocking logic, foot planting, and the precision modifier make the running game a blast
- Coverage on the whole is horrendous
- The offensive line is far too dominant
- Contract renegotiations and free agency remain stale and unrealistic