From the opening sequence to the endless game modes, Madden 17 is a hit.
EA Sports’ hugely successful football game has been out for a month and we’ve only just found the time to put down the controller. It’s that good.
The gamer is thrown into a high-pressure situation from the get go, tasked with leading the Los Angeles Rams to a playoff victory over the Washington Redskins. It’s the perfect introduction for experienced players as well as newbies to the series.
The realism to actual NFL-level football is stepped up a notch in Madden 17. Always felt that special teams was a redundancy? Now you can truly make an impact in the third - and very much unloved in previous editions - phase of the game by blocking a field goal or icing a kicker.
The kick meter is giving a whole new look, too, with a three-button approach now in place. It’s not a game-changing addition but it adds another challenge nonetheless.
Elsewhere, you can really get your Le’Veon Bell on when the ball’s in your running back’s hands. Jukes, hurdles, spins and trucks are all assisted with new controls, and those with high ratings can perform the moves with ease.
Running backs are aided by running lanes, which is especially helpful to new players as they seek the easiest route to the end zone.
One new feature that will truly test your reactions is the tackle battle mechanic. When an offensive player engages with a defensive player, a random button will appear on the screen. First one to press the button wins the tackle battle, which could mean the difference between a 20-yard run and a tackle for loss.
It’s a neat addition that means you can impact the outcome of the play, instead of allowing the computer to decide whether the offensive player breaks the tackle or not.
All-new commentary team
Arguably one of the best new features is the commentary from Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. The pair’s dialogue is not only the most impressive in recent years, but it’s also knowledgeable and helps to create a realistic atmosphere.
The fact that Gaudin and David return to record new commentary throughout the season is simply brilliant.
Play the Moments
Ultimate Team, Draft Champions and Franchise Mode are all back, of course, meaning there’s a variety of game modes to be drawn to. In Franchise Mode you can ‘Play the Moments’, instead of playing the full game, which is especially helpful to those on a tight schedule.
The game simulates the less important moments and puts you into the critical situations, like when you need to score or need a third-down stop.
Madden 17 has its issues. Little attention is paid to those on the sideline, as well as the crowd. Injuries seem inconsistent (none in seven games, then your three best players get hurt in a week, that kind of thing). Preseason in Franchise Mode is still something you’re going to skip, rather than engage in position battles and contract holdouts.
But overall, the latest in the long-running series is the most enjoyable to date.
Now, where did we put the controller?