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Review: Next-gen Madden – To buy or not to buy

The double dose of Madden this year has been a welcome, if not stressful treat for those of us who have been enjoying EA’s efforts in creating the best football game experience over the last few years. If you read my long-winded review of Madden 25, you saw that I called it the best Madden since 2005/2006. I think this next generation iteration is better than the last-gen release with the same title, and is a must-buy for anyone who wants football on PS4 or Xbox One.

 
I have to admit that I was coming into this next-gen Madden with low expectations. I know that the best Madden games come towards the end of a console cycle, and the 360 debut of Madden was so bad I couldn’t even play it without cringing. Madden 25 on PS4 and Xbox One, however, is great. It adds another level of reinforcements to the sturdy foundation built on the 360 and PS3, and makes me excited for the future. 
Should you buy it, though?
 
You have to be a pretty huge football fan and videogame enthusiast to buy two Madden’s and a launch day console in the span of 10 weeks, which makes this review a little more situational. If you waited on the August, last-gen release of Madden in the hopes of waiting for the reviews on the next-gen version, then I’m here to tell you to buy, buy, buy. This is the best version of Madden 25. The Ignite Engine is equally impressive, but at the same time be warned, as the E3 videos showing off the sweat collecting on RGIII’s nose was clearly not representing the finished product. These models look only somewhat better than the last-gen models. So if you already bought Madden and don’t have the ability to do that “trade up” for $10 deal offered on PSN and select retailers, take comfort in the fact that you’ll be looking good for next year’s release. 
 
 
And therein lies the difficulty of reviewing this particular Madden. Yes, I recommend it to every football fan with a PS4 or Xbone, but the changes from the two would only be noticed by a super hardcore fan. Now, with that said, being a huge gaming and football nerd, so I’m absolutely pleased by Madden 25. On the somewhat superficial level, the UI is as clean as ever, and even improved on the last-gen release. The load times are fast and everything is sharp and slick. Very little clutter.
 
No Madden ever seems perfect though, and this year you can’t find your stats for a player’s individual seasons. How could you leave that out, Tiburon? I want to look at my stats year over year! Alas, little gripes, like simulation times and off season loading have been fixed in this release, and in general all of the menus are well done. The stadiums and crowds amassed to cheer on their favorite teams look fantastic, and are probably the most obvious improvement over the generation leap, but now let’s get to the real meat and potatoes – the play on the field.
 
 
As far as gameplay, this release takes leaps forward as well as some lateral movement. The passing game seems untouched from the release three months ago, but the running game is vastly improved. I seriously cannot stress enough how much fun the running game is now with the more realistic lines reacting and creating holes. The enhanced locomotion of the Ignite Engine is really cool to see play after play, and the different tackles or stumbles by a player enhance the experience. It’s obvious Ignite isn’t quite as… ‘Game changing’ as EA touted it to be at first, but I can see that in a release or two, it’s going to be really, really cool. Almost every single interaction is unique, and the play on the field is a smooth 60fps. Screen passes work better with the better offensive line AI, and pockets form much more naturally. No longer are lineman on ice skates, shuffling around. 
 
 
That sums up Madden 25 in a nutshell – Better in every way but still leaves you wanting more. You know, this is probably the best Madden ever. The graphics are great, but not really ‘next-gen’ enough. The physics are incredible, the sound is as solid as ever, and the simulation of football is the most pure it’s ever been in a videogame, yet I’m left wanting something more. Maybe I’m starting to take Madden for granted this year after hating Madden 13, I just don’t know.
 
So this is how I will end my Madden Xbox One review, with a high score and an equal amount of praise and yearning for a game that’s been tinkered into near-perfection. The more I play this, the more I think it’s the best Madden ever, but too much of the base game seems copy and pasted over from the release earlier this year to give it anymore than the grade I’m giving it.
 
Buy it if you can trade up or you didn’t buy the last-gen iteration. If not, wait until next year’s release that will likely build on this really strong foundation.

 

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