It’s weird how some things work. For years, Madden fans have been complaining that their beloved football series hasn’t been doing enough to differentiate from each entry, with only small tweaks to the game – some working for the better, some not. But Madden NFL 18 couldn’t feel any more different. I mean, it’s still video game football, and those of you that have gotten used to the nuances that this series comes with can still take advantage of that. But some new features make it feel like a more complete – and worthwhile – game than we’ve seen in prior years. So, yeah, fans, you can hush up now.
What really makes this year’s game stand out is the Longshot mode. Like the story mode that accompanied FIFA last year, this is a single-player focused mode where you try to take a prospect through the possibility of becoming a football player, while dealing with friends and other decisions that could make or break his career. Although most of the events surround quick-time style play instead of taking to the field, you really develop feelings for the characters, thanks to top-notch acting that resembles almost a movie-making like quality. It may not be the most action-packed mode Madden has ever seen, but it’s engrossing and, more importantly, in-depth.
But for those who thrive on competition, you can relax – Madden NFL 18 still has it in spades. Ultimate Team Mode continues to be a thriving feature for the Madden series, as players earn new cards over the course of the game, level up properly, acquire upgrades and eventually try to build a better team for themselves. That doesn’t always guarantee success – some things just don’t work like they should, especially against tougher opponents – but it does keep you pushing. Again, it provides depth, and that’s the sort of thing that will keep players grinding. That is, if they don’t feel frustrated by the process. But, luckily, most Madden players don’t.
Multiplayer's Where It's At, But Longshot Is Great, Too
There’s also 3v3 co-op MUT squad support, which makes things interesting in a cooperative sort of way. Working together as a team provides a surprising new factor to the game, as we’ve been so used to just competing against our friends. It probably will take a while to get everyone coordinated so they’re not running all over the place, but once everything falls into place, it’s a thing of beauty.
Not everything’s changed, though. CFM continues to be a mode that carries over most of its content from previous seasons, but it continues to be the best thing around for die-hard football fans, as you can do scouting and drafting for new players, as well as hunting the free agent market like a boss. You also have to balance other factors, like keeping an eye on injuries, watching out for players who take drama to the next level (yep, they’re out there – sigh) and adjusting contracts. It’s a bit technical, but a must for those who insist that they’re masters of their management terrain.
Now let’s get to what really matters with a game like this – the actual gameplay. Because a football game can have all the features in the world, but if it doesn’t play like a football game, what’s the point? Fortunately, Madden NFL 18 handles very well on this level.prevnext
Passing And Running (And Defense)
First up, it’s great to see how things match up offensively and defensively. No matter what side you’re on, there are plenty of strategies to try and take advantage of, whether it’s finding an opening for a sack or making sure a defensiveman is in the right place. It can take a bit of practice if you’re not used to it, but I had no trouble lining up players, switching up to an ideal one, and looking for that opening.
For that matter, the running game has seen some improvement. It feels a little smoother this time around, with jukes and spins coming off a bit more naturally. And, yes, every time I’m near an end zone, I still jump in, just because I’m so elated to reach the damn thing in the first place.
There’s also a strong passing game, though it still isn’t quite where it could be because of the management of an extra cursor. Having to keep tabs on your target can be a bit tough at times, especially against a hasty MUT opponent, but once you get your throws off, you’ll find that you can land most of them with ease – provided you don’t get intercepted, of course. (Again, they’re out there.)prevnext
Wrapping It All Up
Now let’s talk about the new engine – the Frostbite engine. With this in effect, the football does look a little more realistic, and there’s a great use of color and player models, especially after you nail a big tackle. It’s not perfect, though, as there are occasional frame rate stutters and weird-looking players out there. Overall, though, it’s still pretty smooth, and definitely something to build upon for future games.
The audio’s not bad. The music selections are pretty good; the crowd noise is about as solid as you could expect it to be; and the running commentary isn’t too bad, save for some mild incorrect facts. And, hey, it’s great to see Madden back in his own game. BOOM!
While some folks out there will still require some convincing to give Madden a chance again, Madden NFL 18 is the best example to do it with. Along with a powerful engine and some good gameplay balances thrown into the mix, the game also benefits from a heaping handful of features, suited for both single player and multiplayer fanatics. It’s the only football game in town, and, thankfully, a very good one.0comments
RATING: Four out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev