Originally posted by Michael Allen
This are first impressions based on the 10 hour trial via EA Access on Xbox One and not a full review.
There is something strange about sport games. They come out on an annual basis and we buy them despite typically very little change to its previous iteration and on occasion you could even be forgiven for thinking ‘Have I really just paid for a glorified roster update?’. When playing Madden NFL 17 however, I don’t get that feeling. I don’t have those thoughts. Instead I think, “They listened”.
Every year there is a focus in improvement and in recent years it has been on the defense in ’15 and receiving in ’16. This year is the turn of running game, much to my delight as starting a career as an RB is typically my go to position. The mechanics and animations have improved in general and it really does look and feel better but these improvement really stand out with the ball in hand. Previously jukes, trucking and spin moves were always useful but looked incredibly unrealistic and janky where now they are smooth and maintain momentum just as you would expect to see watching a game on a Sunday night. Play through the training drills and you’ll find that this is not the only area improved this year however. Defensive assignments are more important than ever and making sure you’re in the correct position just may be the difference between a run for a loss or a big gain. The kicking game has also seen changes as the thumbstick flick has been replaced by a 3 press system.
Le’Veon Bell shows off some fancy footwork on this rushing TD.
Whilst on the subject of watching a game, let’s talk about presentation. We have a new duo in the commentary booth in Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis and along with that was a promise from EA that the commentary would be more conversational as well as relevant throughout the year. First impression of the new partnership is generally a positive one but I already have had some regularly repeated lines which have started to grate on me. I have already received a commentary update which hopefully throughout the year will keep the new team feeling fresh. Alongside this are new cut away scenes mid play which really does play into the idea of this is simulating the broadcast when watching the sport instead of just playing a game as well as additional score updates, player stats and fantasy points from around the league.
Connected Franchise is back as the main focus for those wanting to play out a career in the National Football League as either a player, head coach or owner and this year it is back with a host of new features the main one being Play the Moments, focusing on a much quicker experience. This has always been my favourite mode to play, despite the mugshot system from my created player, but making use of super-sim, this mode lets your team take to the grid iron and complete a full 15 minute per quarter game in under 20 whilst you play important moments in the game such as a key 3rd down, red zone attempts and key defensive plays. The full match simulation also means that your team will now finally rack up realistic stats instead of always being on the bottom of the rankings which play into the new weekly upgrade system.
With a improvements list ranging from a much more comprehensive yet streamlined franchise mode to the dedication to the minutia of an NFL defensive line, it is no surprise that Madden NFL 17 is one of the best I have played in years and I can’t wait to play more. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a ring to win…
Madden NFL 17 is out now for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS4 and PS3.