With football season fast upon us, the first game review of the year would not be appropriate if it wasn’t for Madden ’17.

As a long time gamer and dedicated sports fan, I like to refer to Madden as a dorm room classic along with other great sports titles such as the NBA 2K games and FIFA.

But in recent years, it feelsthat Madden has failed to reach expectations with EA Sport’s attempts at making the game more realistic. But by altering certain things like, making long bombing passes more difficult and making turnovers (interceptions, fumbles) more likely, Madden ’15 and ’16, although solid games, did not meet the hype.

Madden ’17 however, is an example of EA Sports righting the ship and getting the Madden brand back on track. Like every installment of Madden, Madden ’17 includes stunning graphics that truly provide the feeling that players are watching a real time NFL game.

The finest details from the light shimmering off player’s helmets, to facial features and expressions visible through players’ facemasks bring this game to life in front of a players’ eyes.

My favorite thing about this game is this new feature Madden has dusted off and resurrected from past games called defense. That’s right, you can actually play defense well in this game, and not every matchup is a 20-touchdown-apiece shootout or a 49-3 beating.

Nothing was more annoying than committing a turnover in Madden, regardless of the year, because of the fact that getting scored on was so likely on every drive.

Now with a more detailed auto substitutions feature, allowing a player the ability to select different personnel for different defensive schemes and formations, you can set up coverages and blitz packages using your entire roster.

This allows you to utilize some team’s’ depth at certain positions to keep fresh players on the field all the time, although some teams have it more than others (I don’t recommend the Browns for example because…well…they’re the Browns).

Another reason I think it is easier to play defense in this year’s Madden is because of the ratings of dominant defensive players. In past Maddens, it seemed more difficult to truly impact the game with elite defensive players such as Ray Lewis or Troy Polamalu (both have been on the Madden cover) no matter how great they were. In Madden ’17, defensive studs like J.J. Watt, Khalil Mack, Richard Sherman and Von Miller can make or break the game with sacks and interceptions in the same way a quarterback could.

But don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to make scoring sound impossible. The ability to audible at the line of scrimmage and use an expansive play book is still a large part of the game, and the deep ball is far from dead. As a Raiders fan (yes I said it), I’ve found that throwing double move routes with Derek Carr to Amari Cooper is far easier than it ever would’ve been in previous Maddens.

One of the slight drawbacks of the game is that it is still as difficult to run the ball as it has been in previous Maddens. But that could be considered a compliment more than anything toward the game’s realism, as it is hard to run the ball in the actual NFL today.

A more severe drawback however, is the new catching system that involves the player having to press a certain button when a pass is in flight, with different buttons that pop up on the screen representing different types of catches run after catch (RAC), possession catch, aggressive catch, etc.). Although it sounds as if this makes the act of catching the ball more interactive, it can be pretty annoying to watch routine passes get dropped by elite wide receivers, only because of one button that some would argue shouldn’t have to be pressed in the first place.

With its ups and downs considered, I have chosen to agree with Insider Gaming Network’s Dustin Toms’ review of Madden ’17 from August 17, as he stated that Madden ’17 offers, “elevated gameplay mechanics, improved on-field player interactions and a long-awaited emphasis on franchise mode. It’s great to see that this series has finally found the sweet spot it hasn’t seen since Madden NFL 05.”

I indeed feel the “sweet spot” as well in difficulty has been achieved, and it is extremely refreshing after years of doubt that the franchise would fail to get back to prominence. In comparison to sports games, I give Madden ’17 a rock solid 8/10, but in comparison to past Madden games, it’s a 10/10 in my book.

 

Nick Tocco can be contacted at ntocco@kscequinox.com