Game Console’s resident pasty-faced pom, Darren Price, takes on the Americans at their own game in EA Sports’ Madden NFL 25 on Xbox One. Armed with only a vague understanding of rugby union he finds that the US national sport just isn’t cricket.
I grew up the wrong side of the Atlantic to have any cultural understanding of American football. At worst it’s not “proper” football and at best it’s like a messed-up game of rugby played by men in too much padding.
I probably have no right to be reviewing Madden NFL 25.
As an Xbox One launch title Madden NFL 25 sure looks good. It’s better looking than, dare I say it, FIFA 14 (there, I did). In fact, Madden NFL 25 looks so good that it made want to play it; regardless of me having zero understanding of the game’s esoteric rulebook.
Thankfully the game comes with a very comprehensive series of training videos and interactive drills that can help players new to the sport get to grips with the rules and the game mechanics. The training is a bit dry, but absolutely essential if you are to have any understanding of what is going on.
An afternoon with the drills and you’ll easily have enough to get going. You’ll be nowhere near mastering the game, but at least you’ll have a fighting chance.
If you’ve just ungraded to an Xbox One and you thought that the Xbox 360 version looked pretty sweet, prepare be blown away. Yes the 360 version is very nice, but on the Xbox One it’s a whole new ball game.
The next-gen versions of Madden uses EA’s new game engine, Ignite, which is being rolling out across all their sports titles. What this means for Madden fans is a more realistic experience, with 3d crowds reacting in a more lifelike way to the action on the field. Ignite also utilises the extra processing power of the new machines to create more believable AI player interactions, making the replays look virtually indistinguishable from the real thing.
American football is a strategic affair with plenty of downtime punctuated by some really intense action. In Madden, from the moment the quarterback receives the ball to the tackle that ends the play, you’ll be on the edge of your seat.
There are loads of playbook strategies to choose from, for both offence and defence. It can be a bit overwhelming for newcomers. Thankfully, you can ask Madden for a suggestion. To properly exploit the different formations you really need to know the strengths and weaknesses of your opponents.
As you’d expect from an EA Sport’s title, Madden NFL 25 is packed with game modes. You’ve got everything from a quick game, online head to head, the deep simulation of connected franchise and that EA Sport’s stalwart and incredible time-sapper, Ultimate Team.
Madden 25 delivers a splendid slice of US razzmatazz and, for novices that persist, it’s a great introduction to what is a very tactical and, in its own way, elegant sport.