Football season is just around the corner; in fact the college football season starts tomorrow at 6 PM when my South Carolina Gamecocks take on the University of North Carolina Tar heels. With the start of football season comes another Madden Football game.
Madden 25 (the title number scheme has been changed to celebrate 25th anniversary of Madden Football) was released just yesterday and I got to play for about three hours last night. I started my “Ultimate Team” although I didn’t play a game, played a few skill training sessions, played an exhibition and finally started a “Connected Franchise” as a coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. Here are my impressions of Madden 25 so far.
Last year Madden took a giant step forward in the gameplay department. With their new physics engine the game felt better than it ever had and a lot of my in game complaints had been addressed, but they took major step backs in everything off the field.
The menus were annoying and difficult to navigate, the scheme rating for players frustrated me to no end and worst of all they removed couch co-op franchise and fantasy draft. Well I am glad to say that both couch co-op and fantasy drafts are back this year.
For a lot of Madden players these two game components returning is reason enough to celebrate. By removing fantasy draft and couch co-op EA upset a lot of people last year, including myself. But it seems like EA heard the message loud and clear and decide to correct the problem, thankfully.
Playing this year’s Madden so far seems a lot smoother than last year’s version. The player motions are better, they don’t trip over one another after the play is done and everything seems to feel better. Running the football is even more enjoyable and more précises this year and passing has gotten an upgrade. Madden has even implemented allowing wide receivers to jump for the football over defenders.
For the first time ever I threw up a pass to a wide receiver and he out jumped the CB and caught the pass. It is a move I have been dreaming of seeing in Madden for years. It seems like something small but it helps to make having a WR like Dwayne Bowe or Calvin Johnson actually feel like the unstoppable weapon they are in real life.
De-fense? De-fense? De-fence?
A lot of the tweaks on the field seem to be geared towards making the offense more dominant. I don’t know if it’s because I am the Chiefs but the defense can’t stop anyone. LeSean McCoy gashed me for 200+ yards and I have only made an opposing team punt the ball twice in the four games I have played. In fact I have only had to punt the ball three times and I always force myself to punt on fourth down. It seems the only way the defense can stop the offense in Madden is with a turnover.
This is rather disappointing for a fan like me that loves the defensive side of the ball, and it seems to diminish the importance of having a good defense. What is the point in having Tamba Hali or J.J. Watt when they can’t even sniff the quarterback, or having Darrelle Revis when the wide receiver is just going to get open anyways? I would like to see more of a focus on making elite defensive players play like elite defensive players.
It’s the small things
Some of my biggest complaints with Madden in the past were very simple things. Why when I play 7 min quarters are all other teams simulating at 15 min? This just skews the stats horribly, especially on the defensive side. Why can’t a wide receiver jump for a ball over a CB? If a wide receiver is 6’7” and the corner is 5’7” there is no reason that corner should have any shot at getting to a ball that is thrown high enough. Why is it so hard for my 99 defensive end to beat a 70 lineman, but a piece of cake for the computers 67 defensive end to blow past my 88 left tackle?
Luckily Madden 25 has addressed some of these things. As mentioned above wide receivers can actually out jump defenders and seem to be made a little more dangerous. When you have an elite wide receiver you will know it. Stats are actually now simulated at the quarter time you play at, this is awesome I love to see that no longer is it guaranteed that my team is #1 in defense and last on offense purely because I play 7 min quarters. And the menus are a lot easier to navigate and find where things are.
That’s not to say the game is anywhere close to perfect, it’s still impossible to create pressure on the QB but there will be times where you won’t have more than a second to get rid of the ball. The opposing QB will find wide open wide receivers because your defense is just plain stupid. Cornerbacks for some reason will sit 5 yards behind a wide receiver that is just standing still. Although there are still a lot of problems to be addressed it’s just nice to see there was movement on making the small things better.
Madden 25 in no way is a massive leap forward from last year, but if you are a football fan you will notice the changes. The game is still miles behind simulating football correctly and it’s a shame when games like NBA 2k, MLB the Show and even EA’s own NHL and FIFA are constantly praised for feeling so close to the real deal that our national sport still lags behind. Unfortunately Madden still feels like a video game rather than playing football, but at least they are moving in the right direction unlike NCAA Football is.