Madden 18 has hit the shelves and the season for video game football has kicked off. Every year we lead into this wondering how little the improvements will be and not expecting very much, yet we find ourselves anticipating the release of EA’s latest Madden game. There was a time in the early part of the last decade when Madden fans had great optimism and expectations leading up to release day. They had good reason to have such view; especially in 2004, which many consider to be the greatest year in video game football. (Editor’s note: we have another piece completely dedicated to that time period that will be posted here shortly) Madden ’05 vs NFL 2K5, what more could we ask for? Go back and play 2k5 and take a look at how advanced the animations and presentation were for that time. Many still say that we have not yet reached that point again. Madden ’05 was just as good and viewed by many as the last great Madden game. The animations and graphics may not look up to par with today’s tech but when you consider what was available at the time, both games were amazing and had bragging rights.
Since that time Madden never really had competition and they let things slide. This became obvious with Madden 2006 on the 360 and continued to be poor up until the end of that generation, only reaching the point of okay. When this current generation began, Madden still continued to show no overall improvement. Is this year another example of just an okay football game? Is there finally a Madden game worth paying for?
We have not played the game online yet, but based on the amount of time we have spent playing the other modes offline, I would have to say the game is worth buying. This is the first Madden game that really falls into the category of good. Is it a huge improvement over last year’s Madden? There is no big jump, however it is finally at the point of just being good enough to purchase- as long as you do not mind a bubblegum-pass-happy game.
After finishing the last paragraph in such a way, it only makes sense that we dig into the passing game. With Brady being on the cover, it was more than obvious that this was going to be another pass friendly football game. Unfortunately, some of you may find it to be too pass friendly and this is where I must take some points away. The passing game feels great when you are controlling on that side of the ball, the problem is almost everything on the defensive side seems to be far behind in the mirror.
Right off the bat I was able to exploit many blown coverages; continuously making big gains and/or getting six when playing on All Pro, on All Madden this did not seem to happen as much. One thing I was able to exploit on both All Pro and All Madden was the middle of the field with short and medium range passes over and over again. Have fun dink and dunking down the field all day long against a helpless computer. I hope the online play is not like this.
The defenders will come up with interceptions and great attempts on bad passes. Even on a few mid-range out passes I threw, the defenders would make great attempts at breaking up the pass or just going for the ball. There are many times where I would throw the ball deep and the defender would be in position but somehow my receiver would make the catch without me doing anything. If you were good at passing in recent Madden games then you will probably be even better in this year’s release.
The running game does not look as jerky as it has in recent years. There is still room for improvement when the running back is going up the middle before and during the time engagement takes place with the defense. The weird physics denying animation glitches that occurred during physical contact and after the fact, something that stuck out like a sore thumb in previous years, has also diminished in Madden ’18. The feel of controlling a defensive player still needs some work. When you take into consideration that it is 2017 and you think about what we had two generations ago, it seems like that part of the game is under-achieving. There is really nothing else to say about the defense, my description of the passing game pretty much tells you most of what you need to know.
Post play animation looks better than ever, but after awhile it can start to get annoying when you just want to get to the play selection screen. Like previous years, sometimes it is slow getting out of the post play animation. Having to hold down the green button hinders the process.
The graphics get a passing grade along stadiums and environments being spot on when it comes to simulating or bringing the feel of certain aspects of real life into the game. Especially in daylight, shading features do a great deed, 4:00 in Green Bay really looks like 4:00 in Green Bay.
Like recent releases of the franchise, from the very moment you turn the game on, it may try your patience. The first thing that should load up in a sports game is screen that has a play now option along with other options and modes listed under it. Older Madden games were set up in such a way. One drawback that was always present in Madden was the lengthy wait time one would experience as an actual game was loading. This is an area in which the game seems to have never improved.
Last but not least this year’s release has added some depth with a story mode. The time we spent in “Longshot” mode left a good impression. Here you play a young qb with hopes of making it to the NFL. There is a bit more than just trying to make it into the NFL, you dip into the character’s life. This is not the first time EA has featured a story mode into a football game, perhaps this best attempt at it.
Is Madden ’18 as good for its time as 2k5 and Madden ’05 was? No but it is the first Madden game that I would consider to be worth buying since 2004 with maybe the exception of Madden ’12, maybe.