By Damian Cavanagh
American Football, there’s no two ways about it. You either understand it or you don’t... and it's pretty much the same for this review. You’re either reading it because you genuinely want to know how EA’s Madden NFL 25 pans out this year, or you’re a friend of mine and you’re just being courteous. Another factor comes to light once you sort out the truly interested from the community readers; that’s their level of Madden experience and NFL knowledge. With that in mind, I’ll address the seasoned Madden players first up.
For those of you with a back catalogue of Madden titles, or alternatively you trade the previous year’s edition for the latest game, you probably don’t need me to tell you that Madden NFL 25 is full to the brim of everything you’d expect. Although I may be wrong in my next statement, not having played the previous game in the series or even looked at a Madden title in well over ten years, but nothing promotes itself as being a new and fantastic addition to the game, making it a must have title. But hey, who the hell am I to tell you to break an annual tradition, right? Just make the change, if you haven’t already.
EA would know that the above mentioned folk are 98% certain to be money in the bank. It’s people like me, a long time absentee, and those totally new NFL games whose credit cards they want to melt. The one thing is that even though the opening sequence makes quite an impact, once that train stops it’s like getting off at an unfamiliar station and not having a clue on which way to go. There’s no two ways about it, the four screens to scroll across, each packed with options to select from is overly intimidating.
Instinctively, the first place to head to is the Skills area where you can learn the game. Now, learning the controls for Madden NFL 25 would certainly be like having to learn all of the plays as a quarterback in an actual NFL team. We Australians often tend to badmouth American Football, due to the short passages of play and padded up players, but I for one have always been impressed with the patterns and plays retained by not only quarterbacks but all players. Even if you’ve played before, take the time to do this, there’s achievements or trophies in it for you.
Your next play would be to take a shot at an exhibition game and test your newly acquired abilities. These games present themselves just like they would if they were televised, complete with footage from the commentary box and enough product placement to fill the Houston Astrodome. There are plenty of options to choose from to set up you match, including skill level weather conditions. The Super Bowl option plays really well, with pre-game build up montage that you would expect. The confetti during the post-match celebrations the end of the match was a little overdone and left me thinking “Which poor bastard has to clean all that up?”
Sports Simulation is almost an understatement when referring to Madden 25. Both online or off, the Connected Franchise gameplay option ventures past just playing American Football and can place you as a coach or an owner. Are there ex-Maxis staff working at EA Sports now? Rebuilding stadiums and relocating teams? This is deep. But you can also get lost. Entire game sequences can be bypassed and you can be scored upon and have nothing to do with it. Confusing and aggravating all at once. A little more explanation wouldn’t go astray.
For the beginner, the biggest and most confusing element of Madden NFL 25 would be the Madden Ultimate Team. Unless you do your homework, one could be forgiven in thinking that you would just throw a team of your favourite players together, kit them out in a new uniform of your creation and go out and take on the world. Ultimate Team (which also features in other EA Sports titles) is rather in depth and may take some time to understand.
That being said, this is where the real money is made.
Virtual ‘packets of cards’ are available for purchase, via use of the real currency attached to your console. Each virtual packet contains players that add to your team, focusing on a chosen trait or play style. Lord knows who thought this one up, but he or she probably has their feet up on the desk, puffing away on a big, fat cigar. You gotta make money where you can, right?
In today’s society many of you who work in office situations have probably heard the term ‘paperless workplace’. In the name of the environment, this is a fantastic thing. In the name of gaming? Not so much. Personally, I miss game manuals and Madden NFL 25 would really benefit from one. It’s easier absorb instructions in print form and even easier to quick reference them while playing instead of pausing, cycling through a menu and trying to find the required information.
Metaphorically, Madden NFL 25 is that co-worker that invites you to his party out of courtesy, but spends a majority of the evening with his closest friends and leaves you to fend for yourself. In other words it caters for fans of the series and doesn’t really welcome newcomers. On the upside, it looks great and gameplay flows with very few visible flaws. There is plenty to do outside of exhibition matches, both online and off… as long as you can work out what to do and how to do it.