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'Madden 25' Review: Subtly Improved But Not Quite Super

'Madden 25' has some much-needed tweaks and expanded creation and management options, but EA is saving the revolution for next-gen consoles.

Gamplay, graphics and sound

Gameplay

There's a two-page list of slight gameplay tweaks between last year's "Madden 13" and "Madden 25," but the only major one is the new "run free precision modifier." Pushing on the L2 or Left trigger while doing your standard spin, juke or hurdle button will apparently make you spin, juke or hurdle harder. Basically, instead of your on-screen running back doing what you tell him to with one button, he'll sandbag and only go half as hard as he would have last year – it takes two buttons now to do what one did last year.  There's also not too noticeable a difference, to be honest, unless you're playing with a marquee player who might actually get that extra step on his opponent, as the precision modifier is exponential to your player's existing ratings.

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Otherwise, the game plays very similarly to last year's edition. "Madden" is "Madden" for a reason, and that familiarity, while some annual purchasers may complain about it, is also why they keep coming back. If you've been playing this series for the last few years, you can sit right down and play again without getting lost.

The defense has been tweaked, especially in competitive multiplayer. In single player — be warned — defense is harder to run than last year. The good news is that it translates over to your online games, so old tricks that were once reliable for easy wins won't work as well anymore. Yes, players will find new ones, but it is heartening to see EA listen to the fans (especially with that pesky 2-man under defense that some fans abused online in previous editions). As for online matches themselves, they are easy to get into, and reliable. The matchmaking will set you up with a solid challenge, and they connected instantly in all our trials. In 10 full games on the PS3, there was no signal drop or lag — and somewhat miraculously, no one quit when losing heavily in the fourth quarter.

We should note that there are additional gameplay changes coming in the next-gen editions for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which will launch titles for those systems on Nov. 15 and 22, respectively. An all-new game engine for those versions will make this a different game, with many more calculations allowing players to behave more realistically, a fact touted heavily by EA at the E3 conference in June.

Graphics

Graphically, "Madden 25" looks pretty similar to last year's edition, but many of the animations and physics equations have been tweaked for an impressively improved experience. Gone are the random kicker-tripping-over-the holder animation or the player falling while walking back to the huddle blooper reel of last year. These glitches took more discerning players out of the game a bit. It's subtle, but when you're the only game in town, making subtle improvements is just as important as introducing major new features.

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Sound

There's no real audio change here, with the same approximately 80 percent accurate play-by-play. And unless you really like hearing the same 10 canned phrases repeated for an hour every time you play, you'll likely shut this off pretty early in your season. Individual crowds react differently to their home teams, with the Bears crowd, for example, singing the "Bear Down" fight song when their team scores. It's a small but nice touch that's been included the last couple of years and makes the whole game experience that much closer to reality.

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