Another year, another Madden. Despite how other annual sports games try to innovate and add new features, the Madden series is just stuck in a rut. To their credit, they are forced to come up with something new to add to a game that has hardly changed for decades each year, and in the end, all they end up doing is rehashing everything and hoping that it turns out okay. Madden NFL 25 is the 25th anniversary of Madden, celebrating 25 years of playing it safe.
At first, I thought I was going to like Madden NFL 25 much more than I liked Madden NFL 13. Last year’s game was just so plain and boring, playing like every other football game that has come before it without making any concerted effort to stand out from the pack. Madden 25, meanwhile, gets things off to a good start at first with a very visually interesting menu system that recalls the Xbox dashboard almost.
What’s cool about the menu systems is that they evolve based on the way you play the game to make getting to your favorite modes that much faster. It also alleviates the burden of having to dig through a bunch of convoluted nonsense to find something, which is a problem that not only the Madden series has had in the past but most other sports games as well.
So yeah, I can appreciate the presentation. It’s just that the game itself is really underwhelming. The football is the same old story, and the minor tweaks and improvements here and there amount to pretty much nothing. The game is actually a little more irritating to play I found, though I’m not sure why that is.
I enjoyed the music, which was surprisingly varied and intense. The rest of the audio is okay. It does little to set itself apart from the other games in the series, but oh well. That’s pretty much the theme of Madden NFL 25. In an effort to celebrate the last 25 years of these games, it has done everything possible to directly imitate them every step of the way.
An insulting aspect of Madden NFL 25 is the sheer amount of players, coaches, and owners that are blocked due to requiring pre-order promotion codes. So for players to unlock everything the game has to offer, they are expected to have pre-ordered Madden NFL 25 from like five different retailers, and I wish I was exaggerating. Remember when games used to come out as complete products? Me too.
All the typical modes return, but everything is much more “serious” this time around, without any fun mini-games to play besides tutorial stuff. Online is obviously a big selling point, but I found the online to not be nearly as active as previous entries as well. I don’t know if everyone is just waiting for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game or what. Don’t get me wrong, you will easily be able to find a match and get playing online, but I just noticed that the total number of players online at any given time was only a couple thousand, which seemed low compared to other Madden games I’ve played.
Madden NFL 25 is a cross-generational game, so maybe the next-gen version of it is actually a lot better. It evidently touts vastly improved AI and physics, but I’ll have to see it to believe it. As it stands, Madden NFL 25 is yet another pointless return to the gridiron, offering players nothing new except for a shiny new polish and a bunch of locked NFL Legends only available through pre-orders from fifty different retailers.
Tested on Xbox 360. Final Score: 5.5/10