The popularity of American Football has been steadily gaining ground here in the UK for a number of years now, with regular season games being played here at some of our most iconic stadiums, including Wembley and this year Twickenham.
With that being the case, renewed interest in the Madden franchise is definitely to be expected, despite almost a decade of hit-and-miss efforts. While it may not quite rival FIFA football for headline-grabbing buzz in the sports title category, this year’s Madden 17 is a game that deserves your attention. Why? In short, it’s the best Madden ever that fans of American Football will love, and it represents an accessible gateway for people who may be new or potentials fans of the sport who want an authentic, challenging and genuinely fun gaming experience.
Madden 17 places more control in players’ hands than ever before, allowing for realistic on-the-field battles between runners, receivers and defence. Thanks to the new ball-carrier special moves make it possible to truly contest for every single inch and yard on the field. You can also celebrate anywhere on the field, check out the video tweet below from EA – it’s awesome!
One of my key frustrations with some previous Madden titles was that I couldn’t fight my way through tackles once contact was made, which was unrealistic, especially when in control of freight trains like Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray. But that’s all changed now, and not only can you more effectively strong arm your opponents, you can shrug them off, fake them out and knock them off balance, just like the best ball-carriers do in real life.
But just because the new controls give you more pushing power, it doesn’t mean you’ll be riding rough shot over every defence. That’s because the defensive AI has had a total overhaul, successfully building on the improvements added back in Madden 15. Now each key defender can work intelligently to close down running lanes and can aggressively put pressure on the quarterback at the same time. Knowing that your AI teammates are making smarter decisions frees you up to enjoy the game more. You can take greater control and smarter AI results in fewer frustrating moments, such as plays either breaking down for seemingly random reasons or feeling like they’re taking place “on rails”. Those niggling elements are largely a thing of the past in Madden 17.
Passing has always been a strong point of Madden, so less work was needed here. However, the work that has gone into improving the animations, responsiveness and competitiveness of the passing game experience has done a great job of making the gameplay more dynamic and realistic. Speaking of realistic, EA Tiburon has invested time and effort into balancing each team’s strengths and weaknesses, so you will notice keen difference in the way each team operates under your control.
Stunt on your opponent.
— EA SPORTS Madden NFL (@EAMaddenNFL) August 24, 2016
If you’re into the passing game, you’d do well to choose a team controlled by Aaron Rogers or The Patriot’s Tom Brady, but if you respect the run, teams like heDD magazine favourite the Minnesota Vikings are going to get you more joy. That’s because Madden 17 delivers in terms of personality, with each teams’ individual stars and their strengths making a significant impact on the gaming experience.
One of the best things about Madden 17 is that it’s an open shop, it has an excellent Skills Trainer mode, which allows you to really get to grips with the game’s controls as well as play calling, arguably one of the biggest barriers for experienced NFL fans and newbees alike. I spent the first couple of hours playing through the Skills Trainer to get familiar with the updates and improved game mechanics, and I found it an incredibly useful addition that makes Madden 17 very accessible, whether you’re a long-standing fan of American Football or fresh to the franchise.
Don’t have time for a whole game and just want to experience the intensity and excitement of an NFL game? Madden 17 allows you to “Play the moments”, getting straight into crunch time. Playing through this mode gives you scenario-based challenges that centre around a series of key moments, either on defense, offense or both. The game actually kicks off in this mode and you’re faced with trying to turn the game around and win it in the dying moments. It’s a competitive and fun way to get into Madden 17, especially if you’re short on time.
Play The Moments helps to balance out the administrative elements of the improved Franchise Mode, which is now better than ever. In Franchise mode you’re the boss, taking control of an entire team, from pre-season, pracitse sessions (with a practise team), to drafts and scouting. It’s the most in-depth iteration of Franchise Mode for the Madden series and is another mode that benefits from smarter AI.
The sound design is impressive, with every hit providing a satisfying crunch and thud, it’s even better if you have a quality soundbar or play with headphones like I do. Along with realistic crowd noises and on-the-field calls from players and officials, it easily feels like you’re watching a real game.
Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davies provide the commentary while it can be a touch repetitive we noticed that it is getting updated regularly to incorporate real-world events such as the Niners’ QB Colin Kaepernick, refusing to stand during the national anthem in protest. It’s this level of attention to detail that really demonstrates that EA Tiburon has taken Madden to a new level, we love it and hope they can keep it going.
We’ve said it throughout this piece, but whether you’re an experienced fan of NFL or completely new to the sport, the new improvements make playing Madden 17 the most accessible, physical, fastest and most authentic american football game we’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.