Madden ’18 Review

Ever since the Madden franchise first came to consoles 27 years ago, it’s been a ‘go to’ for those looking for an authentic American football experience that only the NFL can produce and it continues this year with Madden ’18.  The franchise has always gone through great strides to be as real of a simulator to an actual NFL environment from the sound of the crowd and the look of the players and stadiums.  This years installment of Madden offers NFL fans that true to feel experience of the gridiron chess game as well as a bunch of features that helps those who are fans but aren’t looking to rule the online world.

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At its core, we all know what to expect with Madden each year: Brand new rosters, which has updated everytime we logged in to keep everything true to life, as well as fine tweaking of player abilities, of which are commonplace for a new Madden entry.  Gameplay is solid but can sometimes be a little overwhelming to very casual fans who don’t follow the full strategy in American football such as exploiting bad match-ups as well as reading defenses before the snap.  It’s in no way a necessity but can give you a competitive edge.  Just like a lot of simulators, there are a lot of controls depending on your current situation on either offense or defence.  Again this is never something you have to address unless you are on offense.

The controls feel really nice and Madden ’18 helps even the novice player with some split second button pop ups to give you some insight on what to push to help you make a more successful play.  While everything feels great, it was worth noting that with an elite controller, sometimes the extended joysticks cause some over sensitivity, especially the right joystick.  We ran into issues where the slightest touch caused our player to perform some juke move without us wanting it.  Madden in its recent years has done a great job at making itself to casual fans but giving the hardcore audience a way to master their craft.

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Where Madden though really shines through is what it offers outside of a traditional NFL simulator.  Coming back is Madden Ultimate Team which follows suit as other EA Sports titles such as FIFA where players acquire current and past NFL players to build an all time legendary team.  Players can then use their teams to complete challenges as well as play against others across the world.  With the growing success of fantasy sports in the United States, it shows in Madden as it is very similar in concept.  New players are earned through packs which can be purchased using in game currency which by no surprise is either acquired through in game challenges and micro-transactions.  There is a large level of detail as you’ll need to upgrade players, balance your team chemistry, as well as customize your teams front office management.  For those who like something more akin to an RPG leveling style of statistics, Madden ’18’s Ultimate Team gives those who don’t typically look for a straight sports title something more to do.

Speaking of what else to do besides play American Football games, Madden ’18 introduced for the first time Longshot.  Longshot puts you in the shoes of young Devin Wade, a former high school star quarterback who is trying one last time to pursue his dream of having his name called at the NFL draft.  Longshot is a traditional story mode that will give you challenges to complete while giving you the cinematics and feel that sports titles typically don’t offer.  It’s easy to get at least 5 hours of gameplay out of Longshot and it is a really touching story with some really well done voice acting.

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The overall look and feel of Madden ’18 is everything you would expect from EA Sports.  The Frostbite engine is working really well and while playing on a full surround sound system, you can turn the volume up and get a real stadium feel (as someone who has been to many NFL games, it’s amazing).  Players are very true to life in 1080p while there is expected to be some enhancements with the upcoming Xbox One X.  Blades of grass can be seen, stadiums I’ve been to have every bit of detail true to real life, and players can even be seen with beads of sweat on their skin.  Voice commentary is also pretty spot on while the announcing team even casually noted once that I was running up the score but since it was a video game it was okay.  It was a really neat way to break the 4th wall while still making it feel real.  The only real downfall is the sharp learning curve that can be attached to any simulator trying to give a true-to-life feel.  With tons of customization options to tune difficulty, modes to give players a lot of things to do to keep it fresh, and the look and sounds of the real NFL, Madden ’18 easily appeals to even the most casual fans.

Madden ’18 can be purchased from retailers or downloaded from the Xbox Store, priced at £59.99, or £53.99 for EA Access subscribers.

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