Some years Madden feels like it’s really innovating and bringing something special to sports games. In previous years things like Ultimate Team, Franchise Mode, more fluid defender and ball carrier controls all were huge steps forward for football video games. Then you have other years where it does feel like a roster update with some visual touch ups. So is Madden 18 more of the former or the latter?
From a presentation stand point it’s a solid upgrade, lighting has improved quite a bit and there is a lot more detail in player faces. There are more animations and they all look more natural than previous entries. No more of a player being tackled and his leg jerking 50 different directions. Yes there is an occasional hiccup, but nothing as bad as in the past. Commentary is the same as last year, it’s good just not great by any means and mostly forgettable. In game audio is were things really shine with big hits sounding brutal and the stadium atmosphere coming through strong. Any time I was playing with my 7.1 headphones on it was a delight.
Gameplay on the field hasn’t changed much outside of the earlier mentioned animation improvements, which make running the ball and defensive back play feel more realistic. Most of the changes have happened in the form of changes to Ultimate Team and a new story mode being added. While franchise mode and the core online mode have remained untouched, Ultimate Team got some balance updates to keep things more competitive for those who don’t want to spend money and want to grow a team more organically. Along with more single player content for those among us who don’t like taking their growing fantasy team online to run up against an all star team every game.
The biggest addition is the new story mode Longshot, which is follows the story of Devin Wade. A former University of Texas QB who quit through his freshman season do to personal issues. Years later he is trying to to make it in the NFL. The story is captivating and gives off a sports movie vibe. Going in I thought this was going to be something like Superstar mode that you try for a bit then go back to franchise mode, but I was captivated by the story of Devin Wade. This honestly reminds me more of a Telltale game than something you would expect out of Madden. You rarely play traditional Madden and most of the gameplay is Telltale style button prompts and mini games. It has big name actors and former athletes voicing the cast which makes the characters feel like real people. At times you can tell the game engine wasn’t really meant for this, but the team at EA did a good job hiding the rough edges. I hope EA continues these with this story mode and maybe even adds more as the real NFL season goes on.
This year does seem like one of those roster update years. The improved visuals are nice and so are the tweaks to animations and, Ultimate Team, but outside of Longshot nothing really blew me away. That said Longshot mode is awesome and the core gameplay is still a lot of fun. Madden 18 is easy to recommend because of these reasons, just don’t a expect a big jump from last years Madden. 3.0 out of 5