This year Madden celebrates its 25-year anniversary with a different name (Madden 25 instead of Madden 14) and the return of one of the best games modes in any sports video game: Owner Mode.
Last year EA Sports introduced Connected Careers in Madden 13. This game mode combined all career-related game modes from the past: Franchise Mode, Online Franchise, and Superstar Mode. In Madden 25, Connected Careers is now Connected Franchise. Connected Franchise, in addition to the three aforementioned game modes, features the return of Owner Mode. In Owner Mode you have full control of your franchise – on the field and off the field. You can make additions to your stadium to generate more revenue. You can set the prices of concessions and merchandise to keep your fan base happy. And if everything goes downhill in your city, you can relocate the team to Los Angeles or Mexico City.
Owner Mode made its debut in Madden 2004, and why the mode ever left the franchise is beyond me. Owner Mode was so deep in Madden 2004, I found myself not even playing the games anymore. I would simulate the games during the season and manage everything else: player transactions, salary cap, and ticket prices. Madden 25’s Owner Mode in Connected Franchise has me just as captivated. From the specific food at each team’s stadium (Chicago deep dish pizza sold at Soldier Field), to generating additional revenue on Super Bowl t-shirts if your team makes it to the big game, Madden 25’s Owner Mode is my favorite part about the game. What makes it even better than Madden 2004’s is the ability to do it all online, with your friends, in Online Franchise Mode.
In Madden 13 we experienced the new Infinity Engine. The real-time physics gave us unique tackles and player collisions that we had never seen before in a Madden game. This was a great next step in the evolution of football video games, but it had its issues last year. This year with Infinity Engine 2, the collisions are not as wild as last season. The tackles are more realistic looking and players seem a little more in control. You still have little hiccups as a result of the real-time physics: like players appearing to be tackled, but they get up and keep running for more yards. But this is stuff that can be ironed out in future patches. Infinity Engine 2 is a solid upgrade from the first edition.
Madden 25 made a point of improving the running game this year. While the NFL has become more of a passing league, when it comes to video games, I still like to run the football and control the clock as much as I can. When running with the ball you can execute juke combos by using the buttons and the analog sticks. Pull off the right combo and you can make a defender – especially user-controlled defenders – look silly. You can also make much quicker cuts when running now. You can wait almost until the defender is just about to tackle you and make a sharp cut to elude him. My favorite part of the running game is the improved stiff arm. The stiff arm has always been in the Madden game (at least that’s what the instructions say), but it never seemed to work properly. That is not the case this year. If you have a big strong running back or wide receiver, you can apply a stiff arm and drag a defender an extra 3-6 yards.
This emphasis on the running game isn’t without its issues. When playing on All-Madden level, the running game is way too overpowering for the AI. I’m all for tougher AI competition, but Darren Sproles shouldn’t be trucking Lance Briggs. You’ll have to play with the sliders on Madden 25 to get the right gameplay. I recommend the slider set uploaded by the folks at OperationSports.com. These are the sliders I use in my Connected Franchise.
The NFL is an offensive league, and Madden 25 reflects that. Playing defense can be extremely frustrating at times, but Madden 25 gives you the tools on offense to put points up on the board.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10