I was fortunate enough to be the guy that got to review Madden NFL 25 for both FanSided.com and GameSided.com this week and I was delighted to learn that both former Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas and current Chiefs owner and CEO Clark Hunt, are playable characters in the game.
Thomas makes his appearance in the new Connected Franchise Mode (formerly Connected Careers). Connected Franchise enables the gamer to play the game as a coach, player or owner. Playing as a coach gives you the traditional Franchise Mode experience where you have total control over personnel and roster moves and can control the entire team during games. Owner Mode affords you all the benefits of Coaching Mode, while also allowing you to control the franchise on the business and PR side. You can set concession prices, release statements to the media and relocate the team, among other things.
Thomas is available if you decide to embark on Player Mode. In this area of Connected Franchise, you control only one player throughout his career. You can choose to create a new player, play as yourself using Gameface, play as a current NFL player or play as an NFL legend.
If you start a Connected Franchise with Thomas on the Chiefs, be aware that he will be behind Tamba Hali on the depth chart and will not start right away. You can alter the settings to allow your player to start no matter where he is on the depth chart, so if you want to get on the field with Thomas right away, it is best to select that option before beginning your Connected Franchise. Finally, you can choose to play as Thomas on another NFL team where he will start. Madden 25 allows you to see where your player will fit in on the depth chart before picking a team.
If you want to play as Clark Hunt, you need to select Owner Mode. This mode is great if you like total control and want a full, immersive experience. In my short time messing around with Owner Mode, I can tell you it takes a bit of time. Not only do you have to manage the team’s salary and revenue, along with a whole host of other tasks, you can also use the money you make to sign players, trainers and improve your organization. To top it all off, you also are responsible for practicing, gaining XP and playing the games, though you can simulate the those if you wish.
Everything you do in Owner Mode has an effect on other areas of your team. Hire an unpopular coach that is cheap and you will save money on his salary but fan approval could drop, potentially hurting your bottom line in the long run.
Frankly, this mode just isn’t for someone like me. I enjoy scouting and drafting players and playing the game but I just didn’t seem to have the patience or time to tackle Owner Mode. That said, I applaud EA for giving those that might want this kind of control over their experience, the option to have it. The more options the game has, the more gamers the title is likely to please.
The gameplay in Madden 25 is greatly improved over Madden 13. The Infinity physics engine was added last year and while it certainly improved the tackling and overall mechanics of moving players around the field, there were still clearly a lot of bugs that needed to be worked out.
So far in Madden 25, it appears those bugs have been squashed. EA has introduced Infinity Engine 2, which features the Force impact system. Now all the game’s juke moves, stiff-arms and hits are also driven by physics. A running back like Jamaal Charles is going to have a much tougher time delivering a devastating stiff-arm than say, Adrian Peterson.
Hits seem to really matter this year. Multiple times during testing, I would see a ball that would have been a catch in Madden 13, get knocked loose by a colliding defender. Sometimes it even appeared the WR had the ball reeled in when at the last second, a DB would reach in and swat the ball out of his hands. This makes the game a lot more fun to play on defense, particularly as a CB or S, as it really feels like your defender has a shot to separate the receiver from the ball, even if they are a little late on the coverage.
The physics translates into the running game as well. In Madden 25, running the football is more fun than ever before. The running back cuts in a much more realistic fashion. The new Precision Modifier running system is a little complicated and overwhelming. As I was reading through how to produce the over 30 ball carrier moves and jukes (up from 8 in Madden 13) I felt like I was reading the move list for Mortal Combat. Complicated combo jukes involving hitting a trigger and then rotating a stick 90 degrees feels a little elaborate and near impossible to remember when you have just a split second to make a decision while playing the game.
Madden 25 has done two things help you there. The game speed is noticeably slower than in last year’s version of the game. Nowhere does this seem more noticeable than when you are returning a kick. Returning a kick with Chiefs RB, Shaun Draughn made me feel like I was controlling a turtle, not a football player. Still, the speed grows on you quickly and actually gives you a little more time to enjoy moving your players around.
Madden 25 also features a Skills Trainer tutorial. This is something previous editions of the game sported and it is welcomed back in Madden 25. If gamers really want to master all these new gameplay mechanics, they’re going to need some practice.
Finally, playing as the Chiefs is pretty fun stuff. Alex Smith sports a rating in the high 80s and the KC offense has quite a number of fun plays. Reid’s offense features the Pistol and a number of Option plays the gamer can run with Alex Smith. The Chiefs QB shows decent speed and while he is no RG3, you will certainly be able to pick up the occasional first down running with Smith.
The KC defense seemed a little weak at times. In one game I was able to hold Peyton Manning and the Broncos to 17 points but got shredded pretty good by Brandon Weeden and the Browns. The difference, it seemed, was the rushing attack Cleveland sported versus the Broncos. The KC D is definitely stronger in the secondary and it showed against Denver, while Trent Richardson ran all over the Chiefs. This may be due to the only average ratings of players like Dontari Poe, Tyson Jackson and Akeem Jordan. Poe’s rating will likely receive a boost if he continues to play well in the preseason.
I certainly recommend the game. Even if you are disillusioned with the Madden franchise, if you want an updated NFL game to play, this is the one to get. The Chiefs are really fun to play with, thanks in large part to Alex Smith’s accuracy and high rating. In fact, the Chiefs are as fun to play with this year as they have been in a long time. Madden 25 is also a big upgrade over Madden 13, in terms of gameplay.
The main reason I suggest this game, however, is the added ability for users to share files. You can now create rosters, playbooks and sliders and share them with others in the Madden community. That means as long as EA continues to support it, if you like Madden 25, you will likely be able to download roster updates from other Madden players long after the next title is released. This is a big plus for folks that don’t necessarily want to fork over $60 every season for a game that sometimes doesn’t offer that much of a different experience.
There are some issues that concern me with Madden 25, namely that it appears to be a little easy. My stats seemed very inflated playing only 7 and 8 minute quarters. I am no Madden master by any stretch so I am a little worried that as I get more familiar with this new iteration that I will become bored.
As of right now, however, the game is a lot of fun to play, which is, after all, the point.