The folks at EA Sports get a lot of hate every year with their annual release of the Madden NFL franchise. The series has yet to capture the magic of its glory days in the mid 2000s when it was squaring off against, what some would argue, was the superior game in ESPN NFL 2K5. This year feels different though. Is the game perfect? Absolutely not. Is it as good as it once was in the 2000s? Nope. Is it the best Madden game in the last five years? YES!
EA’s big update this year for Madden has to do with passing and it is a welcome addition. Passing in the past has been so frustrating. You just press a button and hope that you can outplay the AI for the catch. With this year’s game, you now have control over your pass. You have the ability to adjust the power behind your throw and the ability to place the ball in a specific location. You can now throw over the shoulder lobs or low bullet passes near the turf.
The physics and animations have received a big boost as well. In previous titles, you would often fall victim to an animation. Once the animation started, it was over for you. In this year’s game, the hits look better and you have a fighting chance to fight for more yards or break tackles. Sure, there are some instances where the animations might still beat you, but it is a welcome change.
Face of the Franchise this year ditches most of the story elements, but not all of them. This time, you’re dropped into year five of your career which up until this point, has been disappointing. You’re signed to a one-year deal on the team of your choice and tasked with making a name for yourself. There is definitely less fluff and that is a good thing. You can schedule your off-days with practice or social events, each one giving you a statistical boost for a set period of time. The mode this year doesn’t feel lame or cheesy like in years past and I have found myself spending quite a bit of time with it. You can still call your own plays which cheapens the experience a little bit, but it is a step in the right direction.
Franchise mode seems little improvements, but mainly builds off of the patches released last year. Scouting, the draft, and free agency are all expanded and feel like they mean something but it is easier to take advantage of the system. This is especially true with trades. With my experience so far, it is easy to take advantage of the AI teams by using the “Get Offers” feature with a player. I was being offered young playmakers like CeeDee Lamb for aging cornerbacks. I’m sure this will be fixed (I hope), but for now, it is very easy to exploit.
With drastic improvements to the passing game and the physics and animations, the gameplay takes a huge step forward this year. I can say this is the most fun I have had playing Madden in years. Is it worth the $70 asking price? Well, that is for you to decide.
Are you ready for some football?
Welcome additions to the passing and run game make this the best Madden in years… although still far from the glory days of the mid-2000s.