Madden 16 Review
Become the playmaker. That’s the tag line for this years’ Madden, with the focus on big plays and spectacular catches it’s hard not to be curious to see how it, the game plays. Featuring cover boy Odell Beckham Jr of rookie of the year fame this year looks to be a solid improvement over last years effort. With the Hayne Plane taking flight overseas with the San Francisco 49ers what better time to buy into the biggest sport in the US and see if its worth your time and money.
The opening of Madden 16 places you in the shoes of the Pittsburgh Steelers as they try to beat the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl 50. A hypothetical scenario, but one that serves as an introduction to the new mechanics of catching and defending the pass, mainly the choice between the Aggressive, RAC and possession catches and playing the man or the ball in coverage. Aggressive is used for the high point passes down the field in 1 on 1 coverage, Run after the Catch or RAC is used for short passes and Possession is for when you just need a catch no matter what. The new catching system is a solid new wrinkle that gives more control to the hardcore fans, while also not isolating newer players by auto selecting if no choice is made.
The defensive side is a whole lot more hit and miss. In Madden’s past the go too button was the Y/triangle to pick off and bat down errant passes, now it is solely used to play the ball in an attempt to intercept, the other side is to play the man or force an incompletion by knocking the ball out. The problem with defending this year has two main bugs. The first being that the time between the ball being thrown and the catch being made is, in most situations, extremely fast making the choice really hard to pull off in time, and in most situations useless when a receiver has clearly broken coverage. The other is the aggressive catch system seems to override the playing for the ball feature, mainly through granting one handed catches or dual possession catches (dual possession catches are automatically granted to the offence) making what should be a routine INT become a massive gain or a TD.
When the opening intro is done the game thrusts you into its clever and incredibly important skills trainer that helps master individual control and overall understanding of core concepts in regards to the modern offences of American football. While most of the trainer has been imported from last years madden it is still very much welcome to reintroduce some of the drills as to remove the rust so to speak. The completion of these help go towards free packs for ultimate team too. When those are done the upgraded gauntlet is the place to test yourself in a mix of basic and crazy skills tests that are fun and challenging at the same time.
Presentation wise madden is still on the top end of sporting games graphically, with the only real lead being held by the NBA 2K series. Most of the top players are well represented and some even sport their tattoos, the stadiums also feel alive with crowds and displays on the Monitors looking as good as ever. At the end of the day its fairly standard stuff that fans have come to expect from madden.
This year the focus is solely focused on improving the established modes such as franchise mode and Ultimate team while introducing new gameplay wrinkles and a new mode. The new mode titled Draft champions is a round by round draft using cards from Ultimate team where you create a team from scratch. Each round gives you a pick from 3 cards of varying overall ratings, and ending with the choice of a legend of the game. You then take the team you draft into games against either an AI opponent or an online lobby where you earn items to unlock some of the higher tier Ultimate team players.
Drafting is one hell of a rush, with the choices often being very hard to pick. Do you take the budget QB with decent stats or hold out for a chance at one of the top tier players at their position, there have been times when I have waited for that top tier guy who fits the system I want to run and he never comes. Other times I have drafted a solid RB in the early rounds and ended up grabbing a legend later down the track purely because he was a monster. All these experiences are what makes draft champions such an enjoyable ride and a welcome addition to Madden this year, especially with the addition of new legends, team of the week players, etc through out the year to keep the experience fresh.
Ultimate team returns this year with a bunch of new additions and improvements. The biggest one is the introduction of new moments challenges, previously single player challenges required you to play full games that could at times take up to 20-30 mins each with fairly minimal reward, however this year solos are much more time effective, giving players more chance at getting better players through packs or the auction block. The problem that plagued the last 2 years of Ultimate team still persists however and that is the reliance on spending money to attempt to get a solid team.
The problem that I have with ultimate team is that it’s for all intensive purposes a Free to play game that isn’t really free to play. By that I mean that in order build a good team you have to either pump ridiculous hours into the game or pay for packs. This would be fine if the game didn’t come with a full retail price and the odds of actually pulling decent cards was so low that in the 40+ hours that I have played and the thousands of coins I have spent I have only pulled two of the elite tier players (85+ rated players). It’s a shady part of one of the most enjoyable modes madden has to offer but at least there is a move toward the right direction.
Franchise mode returns with a new coat of paint and a deep and rewarding xp system that trumps previous entries in the series. Gone are the days of player xp being an after thought, with the new xp system rewarding you for goals accomplished during drives as well as weekly goals, these tie into the new confidence system that can boost or lower base stats depending on how well you have been performing as a team. The new menus are impressive boasting a new look at rosters and easy access to free agency and depth charts alike. This overhaul also includes a new drafting system that shows simulated results on combine drills and
While nothing truly ground breaking has been added there isn’t really that much you can say is bad about Madden 16. At times the game feels like the new improvements to offensive deep passing can be really cheap, especially on modes like ultimate team but as with all upgrades in madden it comes down to figuring out how to defend it properly. Its not the greatest entry in the series but it’s a solid addition to the franchise that looks to contain more then enough content to last you well past the end of the football season.
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