EA Sports promised a lot of changes and improved features to the latest installment of Madden, and they were not kidding.
The game is absolutely packed to the brim with new gameplay systems, incredibly detailed authenticity in game, and more out-of-game features than you will be able to effectively play – never has EA’s tagline ‘it’s in the game’ been truer.
And we will start with the positive…
Offensively not too much has changed for passing plays, and the familiarity allows you to settle straight into the game – but running with the ball in hand has taken some decent steps forward.
Jukes and evasive maneuvers are strong, and the opportunity to convincingly sit an opponent on their arse with a swift change of direction before sprinting for the end zone is a definite plus.
Optional in-game assistance with timing these moves is also simple to understand and will help you get to grips with the new moves.
— EA SPORTS Madden NFL (@EAMaddenNFL) May 26, 2016
In defense you are no longer a bystander to the game either. In previous years the aggressive catch ability of offensive plays could often leave you powerless to prevent yardage gains, but the playing field has been somewhat leveled, and attackers will no longer have it all their own way.
Add to this the fact it’s now possible to block field goal attempts and punts without the guarantee of being flagged and EA have actually made defense almost as enjoyable as offense – this certainly applies to two-player and online modes, where you don’t have to wait for your opponent to f*ck up in order to bring their drive to an end.
Although the constant accuracy of any half-decent QB can grow tiresome, with only deflections and fumbles leading to incompletions – even the best can throw wide of the mark from time to time in reality…
One area where credit must be given is the realism on-field. It’s easy for an American football game to hide behind helmets and pads, leaving out the detail games like FIFA achieve as a benchmark standard – EA haven’t been lazy, and the authenticity inside the stadium is on point.
But sadly, it isn’t all good news…
Remember when I said the game is packed to the brim? Well that has a definite impact on loading speeds, which can be sluggish and means Madden 17 will never be the game of choice if you are looking for a quick match and to be out the door in time for your bus in 20 minutes.
Franchise mode is also a considerable investment of your time.
There are weekly training drills to undertake, gameplans to implement, contracts to negotiate (and these can stack up if you don’t pay attention) with players whose demands can be a tad arbitrary despite ‘fair offer’ proposals, skill upgrades (the auto-upgrade feature will become your best friend), and then finally you get to games.
There is the option to ‘play moments’ in Madden 17, which sounds like a good idea on paper, allowing you to simulate the majority of a game and assuming control of your team for key moments. But it ultimately keeps your influence at arms length unless you have meticulously set up your squad and plan.
So, if you wanted an American football game which combines the managerial requirements of a game like Football Manager with the gameplay of FIFA then this is right up your street. And it is also a hit for anyone just looking to play some NFL head-to-head with a mate.
However, if you have any commitments whatsoever that mean you can’t commit to playing for a solid three hours per session you probably won’t get wrapped up in this one, not without something else paying the price at least.