Madden NFL 25 is a celebration of one of gaming's most iconic franchises – and on its silver anniversary, EA Sports delivers a decent experience that will get fans chanting. This is a largely lifelike release with real drama, energy, pain, and sweet victories – and the power of the PlayStation 4 boosts the release by allowing you to share your most stunning moments with the world and let everyone know that you’re the MVP on the PlayStation Network.
Unfortunately, the game doesn't take much advantage of the PS4's power when it comes to upgrading the gameplay, as, aside from some physics improvements, this is still the same underlying football action that you may have already experienced on the PlayStation 3. Instead, the refinements here are in the presentation, with the players, grass, and weather all enjoying a bump in the realism department. Undeniably, the enhancements all serve to make the game a more immersive experience.
However, if the developer would have invested as much time into the cutscenes and commentary as it did on the graphics, then the lines between the game and reality would have been blurred even further. Unfortunately, specific quotes and animations are reused so often that it’s jarring. Worst of all, some of the commentary doesn't even match up with the game that you’re playing. It often feels like phrases are being pulled out of a hat, and it comes off a little ridiculous – after all, you don’t have to be an expert to know when someone’s words don’t match up with what’s happening on the screen.
Certainly all NFL fans have an idea about how they want the league to be run, and Madden NFL 25 gives you a lot of say about how things are done. Connected Franchise gives you the chance to call the shots, allowing you to pick a team, rename them, move them to wherever you want to, and take them on the road to the Super Bowl. You just need to remember to keep the fans and players happy – building a nice stadium definitely helps.
This may not come as a surprise, but the gameplay in Madden NFL 25 is geared towards experienced players. There is very little explanation of what you are supposed to do, and you are expected to have deep knowledge of American Football. When you are picking a play, there's almost zero explanation of how it works and why you should select it. This is a non-issue for big football fans – but for new players this makes the game very difficult to understand at first.
The controls can wreck a good match, too. Selecting menu options and plays works great, but the real problem is when you make a pass and have to run the ball down the field. Players do not respond immediately to catches and this can cost you some serious yards. This coupled with artificial intelligence that loves to run into opposing players makes for some frustrating moments, as you should have time to respond to what is around you and correct the direction that you are heading. Tackles and interceptions work fine, it's just hard to tell whether or not you are the one who is actually doing it, as the player selection is too random and lacks precision.
These mishaps aside, though, the core football remains fun enough – even if the game’s real standout feature comes courtesy of the PS4’s vaunted social functionality. You can show all of the humiliation that you put your opponents through by tapping the share button and taking screenshots or uploading victories. It’s very much the ultimate NFL fan’s dream to flaunt your wins against a rival team, and the console’s interface makes this simple enough for anyone to use. With no extra hardware needed, you’ll be driving your friends and family nuts with clips of your interceptions and touchdowns.
Sadly, you won’t be sharing your experience with many people online at the present, as EA Sports’ servers aren’t coping with the new console demand especially well. Online hurdles can be expected at launch, but this is embarrassing for anyone wanting to show off their shiny new system. Our first Origin entry took an eternity, and now it merely goes painfully slowly by stuttering a bit. Matches take too long to load, but once you are in them they play well excluding a bit of lag here and there. Just for contrast, Sony’s first-party releases and other third-party titles are working fine at the time of writing, so this is not a system-wide issue. These problems will no doubt be patched in time, but you should tread with caution until the inevitable fixes are deployed.
Madden NFL 25 offers football fanatics the chance to get up close and personal with their beloved pastime. The PS4's social features give you the tools to share your greatest moments, and the platform’s supercharged hardware results in some highly realistic presentation. Occasionally aggravating controls and careless AI aside, the action is largely slick and intense – although some out of place commentary and server issues let the experience down. This is still a strong purchase for fans of the sport, but waiting until the bugs are inevitably ironed out would be highly advised.