A Major Madden Improvement

“Madden NFL 13” sucked. Okay, maybe it didn’t suck, but it paled in comparison to other great Electronic Arts titles, such as the annually excellent “NHL 13” and “FIFA 13.” The commentary was average at best and players randomly tripped. NFL players are elite level athletes; they don’t trip over a blade of grass.

Players would be running open and an average NFL cornerback would all of a sudden transform into Champ Bailey on Monday Night Football. So much of “Madden 13” felt forced and contrived. It felt about as forced as Matthew Stafford trying to get the ball to Calvin Johnson Jr. for the 20th time.

Well, let it be known that “Madden 25” is absolutely outstanding. Players don’t trip over grass and don’t bump into each other, and then proceed to act as if they have been punched between the eyes. Instead, Electronic Arts elected to introduce a new element into game play.

That element is the option game. The option has always been a big part of college football; however, it has only recently broken into the professional ranks. With young quarterbacks, such as Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and the 2011-2012 Heisman Trophy winner and 2012 NFL offensive rookie of the year, Robert Griffin III, making waves weekly, the company knew an option had to be implemented. The result is fantastic.

When running a dive option, an “R” cursor appears above the head of the outside linebacker or defensive end, who the quarterback is supposed to read, hence the “R.” If the defensive player breaks down the line, the quarterback will keep the ball; if the quarterback “stays at home,” the he will give the ball to the halfback. It takes some time to master, but once the skill has been honed, one can effectively run roughshod over their opponent.

If a triple option is selected, a “P” will appear over the head of a defensive back. If the quarterback reads the defensive end and keeps the ball, and if the defensive player gets too close, one should then elect to pitch the ball to the third option in the aptly-named triple option. If the triple option is run effectively against a poor secondary, the result can be fairly catastrophic. Why such an intuitive system was never introduced into their NCAA football range of games is a fair question.

For the fans of the online portion, it is OK. It is nothing to write home about, although the game was only just released, so Electronic Arts probably still has more than a few kinks to work out with the online portion. It lags, can be slow and choppy, and, as always, has those kids who quit on you once you pick Matt Ryan for the third time. However, Electronic Arts can do very little about those who purchase their products and then attempt to cheat the system.

The new “connected careers” segment of the game is solid. You can pick to start a career as either a player, coach or owner and control specific aspects of the organization. Business strategy is a nice attribute if you choose to be the owner; the ability to find a starting running back in the fifth round of the NFL draft would be a more necessary skill if choosing to be the head coach.

With a very solid, refined game mode, you could very well find yourself scouting players for hours and then realize you have not actually played at all, instead you’ve just been unlocking upcoming rookie attributes as you prepare for the “Madden 25” draft.

“Madden 25” is a strong buy. In the ever-changing world of professional football, the ability to more accurately and realistically run the read-option offense is important. The fact that Electronic Arts nailed it makes it only that much better. It is a purchase you will not regret.

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