It took an extra day, but EA Access finally came through. I am at about the halfway point of my free ten hour trial of Madden 17 and I am loving it!
The presentation of the game is about the same as last year’s. The menus may actually be a little toned down and they seem a bit fuzzier, but that may just be me. The new commentary is a breath of fresh air. Hearing people I don’t know call the game is a bit unsettling at first, but once you get over that it’s great.
It reminds me of when I used to play NCAA Football. I didn’t know the announcers, so it felt different. These guys really deliver something that has been missing since John Madden retired. I can’t tell you how glad I am to not hear the same stupid phrases over and over and over. As an added bonus, one of the announcers is from my hometown, right across the river in EVANSVILLE, IN! (Pause for cheap pop Mick Foley style)
The gameplay has been given a complete overhaul. Runners seem to interact with defenders and the world a lot more realistically. The ball doesn’t just appear in your hands, the defenders don’t just drop you to the ground like a sack of potatoes, it just feels real. Watching a runner break tackles or seeing a corner break up a pass has never seemed more like watching a football game than it does now.
There are new zone assignments for the defense as well as gap assignments. The defense covers the field like NFL players would do, not like pixelated people failing to stop a pass an inch from their assignment. The defense will also match itself to the computer’s strengths without human intervention. You may ask, “Why does that matter?” Well, it means your defense isn’t out of position if you don’t flip the play.
The new kick meter makes special teams an integral part of the game. You no longer just move the lines to where you want and pull the stick. If you want to kick right you have to hold it right. If you move it during the kick you end up looking like the Buffalo Bills (wide right!). It makes punting out of bounds at the 5 a different beast. For the first time in a decade you can block a kick or punt! It takes practice and some speed, but it’s possible! And as a Cubs and Cowboys fan, I know the power of hope and possibility!
For the first time ever Madden has also added the practice squad! You can sign up to ten players who have less than two years of NFL experience to your squad. You can then give them practice to build their skills and make them useful players. Again, it becomes realistic because any team can sign players off your squad if you don’t.
Ultimate team seems the same as last year. You can add contracts to players, gain big rewards from solo challenges and play ranked or un-ranked head to head challenges. The commentary on here is dramatically improved as well. There’s a new “Chemistry” option for producing the best team. Last year you had several different schemes, this year it’s either Overall or Chemistry.
From what I have played so far it is a far better game than previous versions. I’m really glad that they continue to add to the game instead of taking things away. Franchise mode is deeper than ever, MUT is still a solid way to kill time and give you a bit of an RPG/mission feel, commentary is so much better I can’t even properly express it to you, the players play like actual people and the game just feels like football. That’s the best compliment I can pay it. Good job EA, after 28 years you made a football game that feels like football! And congrats EA Access, you fixed your mistake.