Title: "Madden NFL 25"
Format: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)
What is it?
The 25th edition of one of gaming's most popular sports franchises. That's right: Madden football titles have been around for 25 seasons. There's a reason for that. This series has been one of the most consistent and reliable in video game history, and as longtime Madden fans would expect, this latest edition is full of upgrades and new features.
Souped-up career mode. The traditional Madden career mode has been given a serious overhaul. Now called Connected Franchise, this mode allows for players to guide the career of a player, coach or owner. For players, gamers can choose their favorite team to play on and decide between using a created player, an existing NFL player or a rookie version of one of 50 legendary players (including John Elway) to guide to the Hall of Fame. As a coach, you can sign, trade and draft players as well as control the offense and defense. While this mode is similar to last season's Connected Careers, it's been vastly improved.
Be the next Art Modell. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of Connected Franchise is getting to run a team in owner mode. Madden fans probably remember this mode when it first debuted in "Madden NFL 2004." It disappeared for a while but is back and better than ever. This incredibly deep mode allows gamers to be as hands on with the day-to-day operations of their favorite team as they want, from setting concession prices to addressing the media. You can even relocate your team to one of 17 cities. If you do relocate, as owner you get to choose a new team name, uniform and design your own stadium.
Attention to detail. EA has kept the essence of what makes this franchise successful but has also made so many improvements and additions that it would be impossible to list them all here. From the 351 plays added, to the 20 new formations, to the all-new ball carrier mechanics, it's clear developer EA Tiburon put a ton of work into this title. By my count there were 173 gameplay enhancements to "Madden NFL 25," all of them adding up to make the most realistic Madden to date.
Not that precise. This year's Madden features a Precision Modifier, with players using the left trigger to expand the number of ball carrier moves from eight to more than 30. You can still dive, spin and hurdle like normal, but the Precision Modifier allows for deeper, more effective animations and movements. In theory at least. Pulling off these more precise actions proved difficult. Gamers have to react to defenders in a timely manner and the controls aren't very responsive.
Last year's edition of Madden was a disappointment. It removed the ability to edit players in the long term, diluted the value of created players by forcing gamers to grind for XP in Connected Careers, cut ties to its collegiate little brother by not allowing gamers to import players from "NCAA 13" and the product placement was overwhelming. Thankfully, EA Tiburon listened to community feedback. Pretty much every issue with last year's game has been resolved. "Madden NFL 25" is one the most fan friendly Madden titles I've ever played.
Gazette media columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.