After the tumultuous 2015 NFL offseason the first thing I thought was “well, now I have to get the new Madden.” As a casual Madden fan and a die hard football fan the combination of many different players changing teams and the allure of a new product seems too good to resist. The roster changes had a slightly less significant impact on my overall enjoyment of the game than I thought but all in all the game was a successful representation of football. EA finally added an all important feature to the gameplay that makes Madden 16 one of best Maddens that have been released in its long and storied history.
Being that Madden 16 is the next version in a line of video games there are a lot of similarities from one iteration of Madden to the next. The defensive line quick time events are the same, the running back moves are very similar and quarterback controls are the same. There really was no reason to change any of these gameplay features; as they have worked time and time again in different Maddens. But the one feature that was added this year ranks up there with hit stick and truck/highlight stick in terms of its importance to the gameplay. The new feature added that allows cornerbacks and wide receivers to fight for the ball in the air is as important as the interaction between runningbacks using jukes and defensive players using a safe tackle or a hit stick.
In previous versions of the game the receiver, on a deep throw, would either preform an over the head Wayne Chrebet style catch and let the ball come to him or you could try and bring your receiver back to ball to make him go up and make the catch. The problem was as cornerbacks would go up and get the ball the receivers waited for it resulting in much more interceptions down the field than there should have been. It was unrealistic and I believe lead to teams overvaluing tight ends and slot receivers while not having number one and twos be as impressive as they are in real life. Thus this defect makes Madden just out of the reach of the total realism it seeks to create.
Now I know a lot of people have been upset over the fact that too many receivers are making spectacular catches when they have no business making them. Yet this is one step in the right direction in order to make receivers, especially number one receivers, more relevant in Madden. This is especially important in franchise mode because there usually is a tight end with over 100 catches, 1200 yards and ten touchdowns while other receivers on the team barley even have 70 catches and 800 yards. So far the new feature has helped greatly as quarterbacks now throw to number one receivers more and those receivers are able to fight for footballs they otherwise would pitifully wait for to come to them. It’s a wonderful edition to the game mechanics and I look forward to it being fine tuned in patches and new versions of the game.
Franchise mode, superstar mode and even Madden Ultimate Team are very similar to Madden 15. In Franchise mode we obviously have the new roster, which if your team made many offseason moves you may want to have (Eagles) or maybe not (49ers), that is different from Madden 15. In Madden Ultimate Team you can create your own team just the same except there are different cards. There is one new game mode however called “Draft Champions” which attempts to pander to the fantasy football crowd by letting you draft your own team in a way that is remarkably similar to Hearthstone.
In the new game mode you get a base roster of players that you add to by drafting from a pool of three players for 15 rounds. The game gives you a choice between three players of similar skills but different positions so you must choose which positions are valuable to you. It operates in a similar way to Hearthstone’s arena where you get to choose between three different cards to make your deck/team and then at the end you get to choose a player from one of their breakout performance years just like you get a high rarity card in Hearthstone. The game mode is fun and after three games or one loss you get to choose a new team and you get to draft a new team. I’m a sucker for drafting in almost any game with cards so for fantasy football plays love to draft different guys this mode is a fun change of pace mode from the classic Madden game modes.
The Madden soundtrack has always been a preview of culturally relevant movies to come. Madden had songs like Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out”, Good Charlottes “The Anthem”, and Avenged Sevenfold’s “Bat Country”. Madden was my first experience with these songs before I heard them on the radio and I loved them at the time. This years Madden is no different as it has the Weekend’s “Can’t Feel My Face” which can be heard on the radio and it even has some songs that are now some of my current personal favorite songs. So in terms of soundtrack it’s well constructed and on par with previous versions of Madden.
Madden 16 is without a doubt has the potential to be one of the best Madden games so far but it’s not perfect. With the edition of the ability for receivers to finally fight for the football in the air this is a distinct better version of Madden than Madden 15. Yet the game always seems like there is something missing. In previous versions of Madden you could completely customize the teams and create leagues and the “superstar” mode is now much more dumbed down than where it was when the feature was new. There are also glitches in the game that need to be fixed with new patches, such as the invisible man glitch and the fact that the game progression system is completely broken. But with all he flaws the game is still the best football game out there and with updated rosters there is no doubt that Madden is a hit and for good reason.