Finally! After weeks of playing the new Madden 25 demo and having to use either the Seahawks, Ravens, 49ers or Packers, I can now get back to using my Pittsburgh Steelers.
To view the roster ratings, you can view the readout here.
This article is not about the Steelers' ratings on Madden however, it focuses on the experience and the advantages/disadvantages of using the Steelers that I have noticed in my first few games with the new Madden.
The detail of the game has improved drastically, tackles look more fluid and collisions with your own teammates slow you down, rather than tossing your ball carrier to the turf. Players' reactions to catching the ball, making tackles and shedding blocks all appear to be much more fluid and realistic in the second generation of EA Sports' infinity engine.
Of Madden 25's newest features, the "ball hawk," which essentially allows your specific player to time their jump rather than having you do it all by yourself, is the most impressive. This takes away some of the oldest tricks Madden experts have used for years to disrupt passing schemes.
That being said, the ball hawk feature is awesome because it allows for expert playmakers to go and get passes you know they can. Troy Polamalu becomes twice as much of a threat because his adeptness at reading offenses is shown much better. Now when covering his deep responsibilities in a cover two scheme, a streaking tight-end isn't as much of a guaranteed reception because of his movement. The Steelers defense is as tenacious as ever, and is a lot of fun to play with.
On the opposite side of the ball, receiving has also become a more smooth process. By holding down triangle, you can rely on receivers to make more plays. So now there's less wiggling around a route to find an unconventional method to catch the ball that only makes sense because you're in a video game. This really is a benefit to veteran receivers, including Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
This advantage has been major to my early success with the Steelers. Brown and Sanders both have the speed to frustrate defenses with smart passes, while Jerrico Cotchery''s vision and ability make for a decent receiver in traffic. Heath Miller remains to be the reliable red zone threat, and Markus Wheaton's speed, while not being as fast as Wallace's, can really take the top off of a defense. Because Pittsburgh doesn't have a super halfback, you're going to need to rely to a heavy passing attack as you try to beat more talented players.
Probably the best moment I've had so far however, was more about detail and specific nuances of each team's environment. In my second game I had gained a 4 point lead against a person using the San Francisco 49ers with less than 1:30 to go. My opponent was driving and reading each of my plays pretty efficiently. After gaining 9 yards on first down he called a timeout with less than 30 second to go, inside my 30 yard line.
But as the players recovered and the normal timeout animations ensued, I heard those glorious words echo on my television:
"Oh momma I'm in fear for my life from the long arm of the law ...."
I pretty much lost my damn mind like I was actually at Heinz Field. I couldn't believe that EA Sports actually took the time to add the perfect timing for the use of Styx's Renegade feature to kick-in when our defense was on the field and we needed a late game stop. They didn't play the whole song, but an entry into the chorus was all I needed to be pumped up.
And much like those legendary moments we have come to love that followed a playing of Renegade at Heinz Field, the defense came through. LaMarr Woodley broke into the backfield to sack Colin Kaepernick; then, on the next play, William Gay hit the quarterback and forced a bad throw that led to fourth down. It all ended with a Polamalu interception to end the game nicely and award another win to my record.
So far there's a lot to like about the new Madden 25 game. There's a lot of fluidity and much of the glitchy motions that has frustrated fans for years have become unnecessary due to the new methods of making plays. Whereas it still won't satisfy the undying fans of the ESPN 2K5 football game*, it's definitely a solid improvement to the franchise.
As the season goes on and roster updates are provided, I'll provide more insight as to how the Steelers are fairing and any strategies I see with them. If you're ever itching for football and you can't watch the Steelers or get a pickup game going, this game can really satisfy that hunger for some gridiron action.
If you want a game with me, I'm on the PS3 and am down to play. Just know I will use our boys.
*To those who still harp on how Madden still hasn't surpassed the 2K series, please take off your blinders. I played the game too and saw advantages that it had over Madden at the time, but every year Madden has improved and I still hear gripe about how Madden still can't compare to what ESPN brought to the table. When people go on their youtube rants about it, they honestly sound like John Madden when he's asked his opinion about the Immaculate Reception; get over it. It's a game.
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