''Madden NFL 25"

Platforms: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Genre: Sports

Publisher: EA Sports

ESRB Rating: E, for Everyone

Grade: 2.5 stars (out of 5)

Perhaps with the Labor Day holiday, my expectations were running high. Cooler weather in the offing, tailgating opportunities and the silver anniversary of perhaps the most famous franchise in the world of video games.

When a franchise hits its 25th year, it should shelve the run-of-the-mill release until year 26 and roll out something truly transformative. EA clearly had time to prepare.

Sadly, for yet another year, we usher in another "Madden" game that lacks the innovation even a new gamer to the series would want to see. Wait! I can the ball easier now than ever before? Wow! Now I can finally implement the wishbone offense with the Patriots just to see how silly that would look?

Considering the level of stupidity the defenses have operated on in this game for the past few years, making it even easier to score highlight-reel touchdowns didn't exactly check off a must-have box on the list of needs.

No one argues against the fact that "Madden" remains the best football simulation ever created (not that it has any real competition). The on-field action remains strong, if at times ridiculous with how high the scores can get unless you up the difficulty level. The usual modifications to the visuals make the game look and feel more authentic, and last year's addition of the Infinity Engine has now had time to become the standard -- and it makes controlling players more fluid and realistic, even if the tackling starts looking weird after a season of playing.

Additionally, the menus still lack cohesion and make navigating around a chore.

''Madden NFL 25" is worth owning if you are someone who just has to buy the latest in the franchise.

I just feel that for such a big anniversary, EA could have unleashed a truly transcendent football game. But, alas, we just get more of the same.

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