Madden NFL 25 PS4 review: Not the tightest spiral, but gets the job done
The next-gen version of Madden NFL 25 didn't bring everything I expected it to bring, much like my Denver Broncos in last year's playoffs. I wanted a Super Bowl win, and instead, the Broncos lost their first playoff game at home against the Ravens. Like the Broncos, the Madden NFL 25 on the PlayStation 4 is great during the regular season, but falls just short of Championship aspirations. There's enough progress being made to be happy with a purchase at the PlayStation 4's launch, but there's so much room to improve.
The game plays largely the same as on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, despite the switch in engines from Infinity to Ignite. Some positives are that players have more weight to them, so you can't run full speed one direction and then all of a sudden be going full speed in another. That's not how the human body works in real life, and that sure isn't how it works in Madden. Players will need to slow down or come to a stop, and they have to build up momentum, just like in real life. The running game feels the best it has ever felt, and a large part of that is also due to the improved offensive line play. It pays to be patient and watch your lanes open up as your linemen zone block or engage linebackers. If you don't hold down the R2 for more speed, you'll let the play develop and have more success. I didn't notice any major improvements in the passing game on the offensive side of the ball. It plays as it did on current gen, and that's fine by me.
On the defensive side of the ball, secondary AI is wonderful, and I don't always feel the need to switch to the defensive back to secure an easy interception. The AI flat out makes plays; if you're throwing to a wide receiver that's double-covered, it's going to end poorly for you. Trust me, I know.
All of the game modes from the current gen versions are here and present. Same menus. Same everything. If you didn't read my Madden NFL 25 original review, Owner Mode is fantastic (but I wish they had offensive and defensive coordinator positions) and I love the way team relocation is used. So what other big changes are there between the current gen version and the next gen version? Visuals, baby!
We were led to believe there was going to be this huge graphical leap on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One -- that the trailer they've been showing since E3 was what the game was going to look like. That's not the case at all (not even close), but there are still graphical improvements. First off, stadiums are a thing of beauty, from the structure itself, to the lighting, and right down to how fans now look and act like fans. It's not just a poor, low-texture cutout of a fan anymore -- these feel like living and breathing people. The sidelines still aren't where they need to be, though. Also, Brock Osweiler (backup QB for the Denver Broncos) slaps way too many players' butts to congratulate them.
Player models are a mixed bag. Jerseys look amazing but don't pick up grass or mud like they should. The textures on the players look like a hybrid of where they are and where they should be. Players' faces are sometimes really spot on, and other times it's a derp-fest. John Fox is cross-eyed apparently? The most gorgeous part of next-gen is the lighting and helmets -- my god those reflections are stunning. Animations are more lifelike than current gen versions, mainly because of the way players move and run, but those mid and after tackle animations are rough to look at. The human body does not bend and move in some of the ways I've seen. I think Knowshon Moreno might have three knees in his leg.
Oh, by the way, PS4 remote play is awesome.
If you're a football fan and an early owner of one of the next-gen consoles, go out and get Madden NFL 25. There's enough improvements to justify buying it, especially if you do the trade-up program for Xbox One. Is it everything I expected it to be? Yes and no. It plays a lot better than some previous years and there's a good amount of features and game modes to keep you busy until next year, which I fully expect to make huge strides in every aspect of the game.