2013-09-08

Madden 25 – Football Is Back! But Is It Better?

by Yo Snyder

Last year when Madden 13
released, it was the first time in about…five years or so that I stated that
the previous year’s edition of Madden wasn’t worth hanging on to. Usually,
unless you absolutely must have updated rosters, Madden doesn’t change enough
to justify immediately jumping to the new edition. Madden 13 was an exception. Oh, it had some flaws, but it made
enough significant changes with Connected Careers and with the new Infinity
physics engine that it wasn’t the same game as the year before. This year marks
the 25th anniversary of the Madden football franchise, and as much
as I’d like to say Madden 25 is the
definitive version of this console generation, I’m afraid I have to go back to
saying unless you are a diehard fanatic who want’s current and updated rosters,
this is really just an slightly improved version of last year’s game. So if
you’re happy with Madden 13, there’s
not a lot of compelling reasons to upgrade to Madden 25.

That isn’t to say there aren’t improvements, because there
are. The physics engine has improved; no more awkward animations of players
flopping around on the ground after a play is over. Owner mode is back, and
while not quite as fully featured as it has been in the past, it’s still fun to
move the Vikings to Vancouver and re-christen them the Mounties. There’s some
refinement to the controls, making it more productive to juke, spin and
otherwise shake and break away from tacklers. Pretty much everywhere you look
you’ll see refinements and fine-tuning; but nothing drastically different. For
the most part this looks and plays like last year’s game. Plus it still has all
the same flaws; really slow menus (why?), repetitive commentary (why, why?),
the animations on the field are awesome, but sideline animations, cutscene
animations, presentation…pretty much everything else is canned, reused, and
repetitive (why, why, why?). Oh, and if you’re wondering what makes this 25th
anniversary edition so special, during the load screens, you’ll get little bits
of trivia about past releases. Yup, that’s about it. Not quite the big
celebratory bash I was expecting, just one more iteration of a yearly franchise
that improves slightly but continues to carry forward problems that have become
as much of the game’s legacy as the Madden cover curse (fortunately Barry
Sanders is retired, so don’t have to worry about him getting bit by that).

The new moves are nice, but they can be tricky to learn, so
it’s nice that you can go into the simulator and do some training until you get
them down. In fact, the simulator is actually quite useful when it comes to
learning the moves necessary to be become a dangerous running back. You know,
it’s kind of funny, because training and discipline are so necessary in sports,
and yet often in the church they often have kind of a bad rap. For whatever
reason, we can get concerned about discipline and training as being “too
legalistic” and therefore not something we should indulge in. And yet Paul
reminded us of the importance of training and discipline (1 Timothy 4:8). More
than that, how can we possibly be proficient in anything if we don’t spend time
training ourselves in the basics and learning “the right moves” as it were. We
need to know our Bibles, we need to pray not just when we feel like it or when
we want something, we need to evangelize, we need to study, we need to memorize
scripture. Some of those are challenging moves to learn, but as with anything,
time and practice can make them second nature, and when they become second
nature, they’ll be ready for us to use in those “heat of the
moment”…er..moments. So spend some time in the “simulator” learning the right
moves to use in your Christian life. Trust me, the discipline will definitely
benefit you and pay off.

I love Madden football. I have a lot of fond memories from
past games. I remember the worthless vision cone. I remember the thrill of
seeing it on the Xbox for the first time (it looks so real!), I have many fond
memories of thrilling victories against my friends and some agonizing defeats
where I wanted to throw that controller throw the wall. Madden has such a
great, long history that it’s a shame this “25th Anniversary”
edition turned out to really be nothing more than a mild update of last year’s
game. Now, I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting, mind you. I can’t say
what I feel is missing, but something…something more than just having a few
factoids during loading screens would have been nice. As it stands, Madden 25 is not a must buy. It’s still
a solid game, and it is an improvement over last year, but all in all it’s a
mild upgrade, and not the full blown celebration of 25 years of Madden we were
all hoping for. For Madden fans, it will satisfy, for everyone else, hang on to
that copy of Madden 13.

Score: 5 of 7 – This is
still a solid football game, but it’s not the celebratory edition I was
expecting. For the most part, this is a refined version of last year’s
excellent version, so unless you’re a diehard fan, there aren’t many reasons to
upgrade. Best to look for a bargain price on this edition.