Madden 25 PS4 Review: Gameplay Impressions, Analysis of Features and Option

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Madden 25 PS4 Review: Gameplay Impressions, Analysis of Features and Option
image from Madden 25 on PS4

As the release of Madden 25 on Playstation 4 approached, I wasn't sure what to expect. The current-generation version wasn't perfect, but it was fun. How could the game be improved? Was the entire game redesigned for next-generation, or would the improvements be barely noticeable because the release dates were so close together?

So many questions were circulating. Thankfully, I've had my hands on the game for PS4 for about a week now, and I have the answers.

Take a look at the expectations and realities for the new era of Madden football.

 

Graphics and Animation

What Was Expected

image from Madden 25

With so little media available on the next-generation version, it was hard to know what to expect from the new Madden 25. One would think that if the graphics were a vast improvement over the current-gen version, we would have seen more leading up to release. 

What is the final verdict on the visual appeal?

 

What We Got

On PS4, Madden 25 looks as if the current-gen version has been laminated, buffed and shined for the best possible presentation of the same player models. The environments are a bit improved—especially the crowd. There is a lot more variety in the stands, and the models on the sideline have been upgraded. 

The grass is very impressive. Art director Jean Adams beamed in a Q&A with me when he talked about the field and stadium appearance on next-gen systems. During closeups and replays, you can see what he was so proud of. The surfaces have never looked so good in the series.

image from Madden 25

Field degradation is also part of the overall visual appeal. You can see grass and dirt popping up from the ground when players are running and cutting. In games with snow or rain, the field is affected appropriately. Footprints are left in the snow, and the overall look of day or night games have their own identity.

Uniforms and helmets also show the wear and tear of a tough game. Guys who hit the ground a lot will have their unis dirtied and helmets scuffed. 

It would have been great to see the player models upgraded for next-gen, but that isn't the case. Some players have odd hair colors and skin complexions. For example, Lance Briggs' skin color looks closer to Jimmy Graham's. 

Overall, though the visuals are far from ugly, they do lack the pop fans may be looking for on a next-gen console. Perhaps that huge graphical upgrade will have to wait until 2014.

 

Gameplay and Realism

What Was Expected

Gameplay in the current-gen version was good, but there were a few gaffes on the line of scrimmage. Many fans were left scrambling like Robert Griffin III to find the sliders that balanced the play in the trenches. Perhaps "expected" is the wrong word, but we at least hoped this would be fixed for the next-gen version.

 

What We Got

It is hard to convey how much better the game plays on next-gen. While the entire Madden team deserves credit for the improvement, one game designer in particular deserves a game ball for his work on the next-gen version.

Clint Oldenburg is a former NFL offensive lineman and a lead gameplay designer for the series. He took on the War in the Trenches campaign to improve the problem area in the gameplay. Clint did an excellent job, and his passion shines through in authenticating this aspect of the game.

During the PS4 review event, Clint explained to me on several occasions the importance of having the offensive line establish a solid pocket. You can see that change in next-gen because dropping back 10 and 15 yards only generates a rushing lane for the defensive line. This is the way the game is supposed to be played.

Also, establishing a pass rush is far more realistic. Dominant pass-rushers are again a factor, as they were pretty much nullified on current-gen. This is huge in re-establishing an offense/defense balance in the game.

If you played the current-gen version extensively, you know there were a few weird instances in the physics engine. On next-gen, those problems have been all but eliminated.

One issue that isn't in the current-gen version but does rear its head in next-gen is the speed thresholds. There should be a wider range between speedsters and moderately quick players. This can be changed in the sliders, but the default settings should have been more realistic. 

Even with that shortcoming, it is hard not to recognize how tightly the game plays in almost every instance.

 

Sound and Presentation

What Was Expected

Unfortunately, the expectations for sound and presentation in Madden games isn't very high. Generally, the game is devoid of presentation qualities that really stand out and accurately simulate what we see on Thursdays, Sundays and Mondays. 

Would the next-gen version improve in this category?

 

What We Got

More of the same issues are still here in this area. There is no halftime, pregame or postgame show. In Connected Franchise, there is little done in commentary or between-game presentation that elevates the experience.

The commentary is still a step behind the better virtual announcers in the genre of sports video games. Injuries occur at a realistic rate, but it would be great if they were announced more realistically.

Having the full diagnosis come through within minutes after the injury isn't consistent with what we've come to expect from TV-style broadcast. The instant replay system is much better, but overall this is still the weakest aspect of the game. 

 

Options and Modes

What Was Expected

Whenever a series moves from one generation to the next, there are always concerns that some great features fans have grown to love will be omitted. Does Madden 25 on next-gen bring a full complement of features—or even some new things?

 

What We Got

image from Madden 25

There is nothing new, but the developers deserve a lot of credit for bringing every feature—aside from importing draft classes—from the current-gen consoles to next-gen.

Connected Franchise was near perfect on current-gen and it is great to see it in all its glory on next-gen. If I was to nitpick about anything, it would be great to be able to change the names of existing players, but that's almost too small to even mention.

The feature set is stellar on next-gen Madden and helps to power the overall package.

 

Overall

Some gamers may be deterred because the graphics in next-gen Madden 25 aren't a major upgrade from the current-gen version, but the gameplay improvements are where the real value in upgrading lies.

This is clearly the best gameplay the series has seen in years and a nice pickup for next-gen virtual gridiron fans.

Here's a look at the game by the numbers.

 

Graphics and Animation: 8

Gameplay and Realism: 8.75

Sound and Presentation: 6

Modes and Options: 9.25

 

Overall: 8

 

Follow me for news and musings on Madden 25 and other sports video games.

 

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