There are things that usher in the end of summer and the start of fall each year. Kids returning to school. Temperatures starting to cool. College football games starting as pennant races in baseball reach a fevered pitch.
Oh, and of course there is the annual release of Madden.
This year's version is particularly exciting, as it is the 25th iteration of the iconic franchise. If that makes some of you feel old—I'm talking to the crowd that got their start playing Tecmo Super Bowl here—well, it probably should. Like you, Madden—and video games in general—have come a long way.
From its humble beginnings on an Apple II computer in 1988 to the modern marvels now featured on PS3 and Xbox 360 (and soon to further amaze on the next generation consoles), Madden's evolution largely mirrors the evolution of video games in general. Few franchises—really, only Mario and Zelda—have had the cultural staying power and impact of Madden.
Released yearly, sometimes Madden runs into snags. The versions unveiled at the beginning of the current generation of consoles were subpar. Various features have been wildly unpopular (who could forget the dreaded passing cones?). A version or two has been accused of simply putting a bit of polish on previous iterations.
But in general, Madden presses forward each year as one of the most fun and innovative sports games on the market. Its terminology has become universal. We've all had the pleasure of staying up all night with friends, embroiled in a heated Madden tournament. And let's keep it real—Madden fantasy drafts and franchises are one of the best things to do in any video game, period.
So, obviously, there are a lot of expectations heading into this year's version. I'm not a professional video game reviewer, so I instead turned to the experts and rounded up five reviews from respected industry sources for you to peruse.
EA has long promised "It's in the game!" Let's see what is in this year's version of Madden.
Reviewer: Jack Devries
Key Section: "With its incremental but noticeable improvements, Madden NFL 25 is the best football game experience I've had to date. It shines on a technical level, but the real issue with the series is that other sports games have improved so much faster that Madden 25 looks and feels dated by comparison—fake Twitter streams and pre-game montages are already old news. It would be better if EA Sports did more that was new and interesting rather than bringing back features discarded in previous versions. But the real meat-and-potatoes gameplay is better than ever, and when it comes down to it, we’re here to play some damn football. Madden 25 brings it with bone-crunching intensity."
Reviewer: Marc Camron
Key Section: "Madden NFL 25 represents a new beginning for the franchise. There are undoubtedly still exploits some players will discover, and there’s surely future tweaking to be done. Plus, there’s still the question of how the next-generation iterations will measure up (some of us still bear the scars of the last-generation transition, when all of the best features were stripped out of the game’s debut on 360 and PS3). But for everyone who’s ever loved Madden NFL, this year’s installment is a must-buy. Consider it a love letter from EA for all we’ve given to them."
Reviewer: Dan Rubenstein
Key Section: "Madden NFL 25 is as fun to play and enjoyable as any ultra-modern sports game could hope to be while still toeing the advanced feature line. The NFL itself breeds die-hards who need every tiny option at their disposal and casual fans happy to enjoy some healthy competition. While Madden NFL 25 does an admirable job of catering to those with little use for, say, the ability to make 14 changes before each snap, it stays true to its ethos to give you as much control as you could possibly want."
Reviewer: Mike Suszek
Key Section: "The game that marks the series' silver anniversary offers a good mix of features introduced in the games that came before it. Connected Franchise, with the introduction of owner mode, is a great realization of digital NFL ownership offerings seen in the past, while the new ball-carrier moves push the game forward. Of course, Madden 25 could use an update or two to iron out the Infinity Engine and blocking system's tendency to let nearly any running back plow through the defense. The Madden series, year in and year out, is typically rough in some areas while remaining an enjoyable way to get your football fix. I wouldn't expect that to change 25 years in, and it certainly hasn't."
Score: 4/5 stars
Official Xbox Magazine
Reviewer: Andrew Hayward
Key Section: "As the culmination of this generation's efforts, Madden NFL 25 is a wide-ranging and entertaining beast of a simulation, but it's showing its age. Issues we've seen for years now—like garish sideline details, poor transitions, and incorrect stadium surroundings—remain untouched, with new ones added to the mix (like odd facial texture glitching). We're more than ready to see this famed franchise make the Xbox One leap, but even so, what’s here comprises a totally stellar current-gen sendoff."