Madden 18: A Pleasant Mix of Old and New

When it comes to video game genres I typically avoid writing anything that involves sports. They don’t change much annually and because of that, there isn’t much to talk about as far as creativity, innovation, and style go. Yet, Madden 18 is a little bit different. With the addition of The Longshot storyline, enhanced play calling through coaching adjustments and multiple game styles, as well as improved gameplay dynamics, this year’s Madden 18 has become something worth looking at.

Longshot

Tom Brady may have been the poster boy for Madden 18, but Longshot is what appeared to be the selling point of this years release. That being said, it felt quite underwhelming. In fact, at times it felt cliché. From the Texas football coach wearing a cowboy hat, the buddy-buddy I got your back you’ve got mine bit between Devin Wade and Colt Cruise, the villainous executive producer, all the way to the whole overarching theme of a being an underdog comeback kid. The entire story was bland. Not once did the progression of the plot feel surprising or creative. It felt like it was hot off a pre-made template.

The entire story was bland. Not once did the progression of the plot feel surprising or creative. It felt like it was hot off a pre-made template…There were a couple of instances in my play-through where the receiver icon didn’t show up during a drill or wouldn’t disappear after the play ended, and while I know that this is more of a software problem than anything else, it’s still another addition to what feels like an unprepared product.

Madden-18-Longshot-Details-5

And that’s just the beginning. The lack of depth in the plot of the story makes everything else within the game mode stick out that much more. The unusual choices that affect the scouting report didn’t make sense. Some of them were relative to character-traits, such as social-media, actions on the field, and decision making, but at other times it felt as if many of the decisions were solely put in as a fluffer and were irrelevant. While a man gaining a spot in the draft because he went through a game-show scenario might seem interesting, Madden 18 would have benefited much more by showing the real experience of recruitment.

Madden-18-Colt-Choice.pngThen there’s gameplay. I don’t know about you guys, but I would have liked to have been able to have full control when it came to in-game situations. Mashing buttons and guiding the football were disappointing, not to mention glitchy. There were a couple of instances in my play-through where the receiver icon didn’t show up during a drill or wouldn’t disappear after the play ended. While I know that this is more of a software problem than anything else, it’s still another addition to what feels like an unprepared product.

The combination of the bad plot line, poor gameplay, weird consequential choices, and glitchy software left me unable to give Longshot anything but a thumbs down.

The combination of the bad plot line, poor gameplay, weird consequential choices, and glitchy software left me unable to give Longshot anything but a thumbs down. Even the end of the story, was an obvious shell of what Tom Brady himself went through during the draft. If there is one redeeming quality, it’s the fact that you can continue Devin Wade’s or even Colt Cruise’s story through CFM if you choose to play with a single player instead of a coach or an owner.

Gameplay

While Longshot was a disappointment. The revisions and additions to Madden 18‘s gameplay were a pleasant surprise. Defensively, press coverage is no longer just pushing LB or L1 but instead involves player placement and use of the right analog stick, and defensive lineman have the ability to reach out with LB or RB and grab anyone within their reach.butler v sandersThe offensive side of things was improved as well. Receivers have the ability to do “change-up” or “foot fire” moves to confuse and evade defensive backs, and it seems that Madden 18 has even brought back an old favorite from Madden ’06 known as QB vision in a rehashed and slightly tweaked version of the same thing now dubbed as “QB target passing.” It’s a bit complicated to learn, but I think it is an interesting optional addition to the game.

Even big hits have made a comeback. It’s no secret that the Madden franchise has whittled down the act of concussions and the hit-stick feature, whether due to pressure from John Madden himself or the NFL; and while it is absolutely sure that concussions will never return to the game, hit-sticks matter again. With a flick of your thumb and a blast of bass you can change the game in a moment with a perfectly timed hit.image.img (1)My personal favorites though are two never before seen additions: Gamestyles and Coach Adjustments. Gamestyles gives you the ability to choose between various versions of Madden 18 that are each tweaked in their own little way. Arcade is much more action-oriented, with a higher success rate for hit-sticks and strips, more broken tackles, jukes, and spectacular catches. Even blocked kicks are more frequent.

…while it is absolutely sure that concussions will never return to the game, hit-sticks matter again. With a flick of your thumb and a blast of bass you can change the game in a moment with a perfectly timed hit.

Simulation is much more realistic, focusing on unexpected errors such as slipping, bad passes, and other unusual errors. Fatigue and stamina play much larger roles, and so do injuries and penalties. Elite players are also much better than non-elite players and it shows through the gameplay.

Lastly, the competitive style is much more oriented for online play such as MUT and sometimes head to head or CFM. There are fewer injuries, better passes when the QB’s feet are set, more interceptions and incomplete passes in traffic, and only AI players that are big hitters can use the hit-stick feature.imageShare.img (2)Coaching Adjustments, on the other hand, are an in-game feature that allows you to adjust your team’s playing strategies in real time on offense or defense. Defensively you have the ability to adjust cornerback matchups, how to defend the option, how to defend a ball in the air, aggressiveness with the pass rush and strip attempts, as well as whether your players should go for conservative tackles or bone-shattering hits. Offensively you have the ability to adjust how aggressive or conservative your ball carrier runs, whether you offensive line tries to hold blocks longer, and whether your receivers attempt to do RAC, spectacular catches, or possession catches.

Choosing to introduce features such as Coaching Adjustments and Game Styles while also revamping features that have been present in the past keeps customers happy while mixing it up in a comfortable way.

Both of these add-ons are nothing short of perfect. Coaching Adjustments allows players in Madden 18 to have that much more self-control during desperate or dominating performances, leaving you feeling like you have command of your team, while the three different Game Styles allow players to decide how their games feel and lets them enjoy the game however they want. It’s a great way to improve the game without making any drastic changes that might set off longtime fans.

Online & MUT/CFM

I’ve decided to add these features altogether because while MUT and CFM don’t have to be used online, they usually are. For the most part, online play is essentially the same, but co-op has been reintroduced to MUT to the delight of users. This feature allows up to 3 people to join up, combine rosters, create a MUT Squad, and decide between playing Offensive Captain, Defensive Captain, or Head Coach. As for everything else, Madden 18 has appeared to stick with the mantra “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and I think that’s for the best. Matchmaking is fluid, gameplay makes sense and there isn’t really anything that stuck out as unnecessary or annoying.02-1

Bottom Line

While I still remain critical of Longshot’s storytelling and approach, and EA’s decision to release a game that still had bugs like false-flag injury notifications, stuck icons, and things like this pancake-block glitch, Madden 18 really did itself a favor. Choosing to introduce features such as Coaching Adjustments and Game Styles while also revamping features that have been present in the past keeps customers happy while mixing it up in a comfortable way. Hopefully they can keep this balance heading into the future.

Feature Photo: Credit to EA Tiburon/Electronic Arts
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s