Every year EA Sports releases its annual NFL offering in John Madden Football and every year football fans across the world flock to it with excitement with the NFL season just around the corner. So the question is, how is it? And is it better than last year? Let’s find out.
Madden 18 is the latest installment of the EA franchise, which revealed new features such as Long Shot mode, and upgrades to current modes and game play. EA switched over from the ignite engine to the Frostbite engine and it can be seen in the visuals. But visuals are only one aspect to the game, particularly one that is made by a big publisher such as EA. So let’s dig in and get down to business and ultimately I can give you enough insight to where you can make an informed decision as to whether or not you want to buy this years game.
Game play feels smoother, the action just feels more refined, not really different in a way but just more refined. The herky jerky animations that used to annoy me in previous Madden games did not in the games I have played thus far this year.
I cannot say whether the game is tougher since I usually do not put that much time into on the field play as a franchise player, I put a lot of my review time into that mode.
Ultimately I did not get a chance to use the new target passing system nor all the different play styles in this years game. These features however could add depth to game play and that is a win-win for returning Madden players.
Overall the game play is solid, there is not much from my experience that has changed, it feels much more refined which is a great thing.
Franchise mode is very much a mode that I love to dive into on any sports game, but in Madden it also ties in career mode and owner mode. So it isn’t a traditional franchise mode, and that is unfortunate because I think the team in Orlando missed out an opportunity to bring the mode up to standards compared to other titles such as NBA 2k.
You see, to me, it would seem like that there was no such thing as a career mode because it is tucked away in franchise mode, which was previously dubbed Connected Careers. Connected Careers mode effectively killed off franchise mode in Madden in my opinion. Then EA had to excite me by offering the owner mode again, but let’s be honest owner mode is not what it was back when it was debuted on the PlayStation 2. Think about it, you can’t edit your look at all, you are stuck with 3 preset looks and color schemes and there is nothing you can do to give your relocated team a personal touch, in fact, there is no customization at all when you relocate.
My job is to be objective and offer an opinion on the game and quite frankly, franchise mode is a big part of the experience in my opinion so the fact that it pretty much stood firm was a disappointment. The ability to order your draft board is cool and all, but I don’t think it is a game changer for me, and I am not sure who is really going to call that a major upgrade to the mode.
The biggest change to the mode was getting more options that allows you to give the CPU more work, for example I delegated scouting to the CPU, I think that was a nice option to have added. The menu is also nicer, more streamlined and seemed faster. which is always a good thing. Slow menus suck the life out of these kind of modes, just ask the NHL series EA puts out.
Overall though despite the changes, the mode could and should be better, but that is probably more because I love franchise modes and have ideas on how to make Madden’s deeper and better, and they’ve done some of these things on prior Madden’s on the PS2 like the custom uniforms and stadiums for relocated teams. I will get more ideas out there in a future blog.
Long Shot Mode
Here is the newest mode in Madden 18 and I must say, I was not at all looking forward to it and in fairness to do a review I felt like I had to play it and give it a chance. Boy am I glad I did, it is a great mode. I am not a fan of story mode type player modes, but I have to admit EA nailed this one.
Without giving away the story, I can tell you that you star as Devin Wade a young man who is trying to make a comeback into football after being away for a few years. The circumstances I won’t tell you, but what I will say is that the story is well written and in the end you end up feeling bad for the guy because he endured so much. You play certain moments of the story and watch quite a bit of it unfold in a cinematic fashion, think Grand Theft Auto, you watch a cut scene and then you have to go out and execute the task. It is much the same thing here. And it all leads to the end of the story and in my case I was drafted in the 7th round by the Patriots.
I loved the mode though, the story was fantastic and the parts were well acted by all of the actors and guests who appeared in the mode.
There are parts of longshot that I think would make a great foundation for a future player career mode, and I will touch on that later if I have time at a later date.
Madden Ultimate Team: I did not test this mode based on the premise of I have nothing to compare it to in previous games, but EA did add online team play through Madden Ultimate Team which appears to be a 3 on 3 mode, which you can read about here.
There is also online versus mode, and practice mode. I don’t recall seeing anything new on those modes. Not much can be added to them I suppose. They are just basic modes.
Madden 18 is a solid game overall, it checks a lot of the boxes it should, solid gameplay, decent online and it hit a home run with the new Longshot mode. However Madden is due for a major leap forward and this game does not hit that mark. Instead Madden 18 is a solid improvement over Madden 17 which is fine on the surface considering that is what you want in a new game, improvements year over year.
Longshot mode is by far the biggest addition here, and it really nailed the story and the acting. Longshot mode gave me a couple ideas on how I would like to see a career mode implemented in Madden in the future. I plan on getting to that in a future blog.
Madden does well in my opinion, it isn’t as deep as I would like it to be at this point which is why it is getting the score I give it below. But it is also not a bad offering. I just do not know if it is a purchase everyone would be willing to make. There may not be enough here to entice some people.
This score below is a reflection of the lack of improvements in the core game modes, however it does give a nod to the fact that it is a step in the right direction and it is a pretty solid game. Again I am not sure if it is a big enough of a bump to make it worth a purchase unless you are a hardcore football fan like me who buys the game on an annual basis regardless.
Steps were made to improve the game and there are features that EA can work on moving forward that can make Madden stand out, but the ultimate question is whether or not it will get the attention it needs to be properly executed, and since 2k got out of the game with NFL 2k5 there seems to be a bit of complacency with EA with their Madden offering since there is no other NFL game on the market.
Frostbite engine can be a nice addition in the future, but outside of visuals and the cut scenes in the highly successful Longshot mode it isn’t being fully taken advantage of. Especially if you look at what is being added to FIFA this year. But for the first year on the new engine it is pretty cool.
The future for Madden looks bright, but it could be brighter if they separated the career mode from the team building mode, they do not really mix well together and they in my opinion never should have been paired together in the first place.
I do not want this to seem like I am saying Madden is a bad game, or a bad experience, because it is not. It is a very good game. But it isn’t a great game and I wanted to offer my opinion on Madden’s shortcomings to hopefully help the game moving forward. My review is just one of many, but I think mine might be the one that takes the most critical stance out of them all. And I don’t feel bad about that because ultimately as a gamer, I want the game to be as deep and as fun as possible and I feel like Madden just isn’t there yet.
Madden is visually a beautiful game.
Game play feels smooth and it feels better overall, I like how the game plays.
As mentioned above, the depth of Franchise mode disappointed me, I gave the game a 6 for game modes because Longshot is an outstanding story but I don’t know if it can be considered a mode but what it is is an amazing story definitely worth checking out.
Same presentation as last year, and the same two play by play guys with some new lines originally and added throughout the year with weekly updates.
Fun Factor: 7
There is a decent fun factor in Madden, as much as I ragged on the games modes for being a little disappointing, they still offer decent depth and they are fun, but I don’t know how long they will hold a hardcore fans attention.