Madden 17: Finally Some Real Improvements
It’s that time of year again, and it’s time for a new edition of Madden. Specifically, Madden 17 by EA Sports. Madden 17 is available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, and PlayStation 3. I am basing this review off of core gameplay while playing Madden 17 on Xbox One. I’m not going to cover franchise, ultimate team, or draft champions mode, as we will have those articles coming out later. Let’s get right to the field and review Madden 17.
There are lots of new mechanics in Madden 17. Some are simple, some are complex. For instance, the ratings actually affect a player’s ability and you can actually block kicks now, but let’s start with the running game. You can now hurdle, spin and juke more easily. Your player doesn’t slow down all the way to make a cut, resulting in the lane not being open because he took so long to slow down. Also if you play on pro or rookie difficulty, it will tell you when to juke, or it will just perform the juke for you. You can turn this feature off if you don’t like it.
Something that I find helps with the running game more than the passing game, is the player direction indicator. It helps you find holes in the line that would be a loss of yards in Madden 16. In Madden 17 you can point your player perfectly in between those small gaps for positive yards using a visual indicator.
The jukes are also much easier to perform. In earlier Madden games you had to do crazy complicated button patterns to juke someone. Now you press Y/Triangle and your player will perform a hurdle, or press B/Circle for a spin move. In Madden 16 I didn’t bother to learn how to do those moves because it would take too long.
On top of that, player ratings will affect how well a player can do certain jukes. Eddie Lacy is going to trick someone better than Lesean Mccoy, but Lesean Mccoy will juke better than Eddie Lacy.
The kick mechanic is also much easier. You press A/Cross three times, once to start it, once for kick power, and once for accuracy -- basically, it’s like Tiger Woods golf. However, even if merely kicking the ball is easier, aiming the kick is much harder. You have to move the kick ark to the right spot as you did with Madden 16, but unlike in Madden 16 the kick ark doesn't stay in place, you have to hold it in place then press A/Cross -- once you press A/Cross the kick ark will stay where it is.
Also you can finally block kicks much more easily. As an example, you put three players on one side that have the ability to block the kick. It still is hard to do, but two of those defenders have to make a choice on who to block, leaving one man open to possibly block the kick. Even with all of this, it still makes a difference how quickly you can get onto the ball.
In Madden 16 I always listened to music while I played, so I didn’t have to listen to commentators Phil Simms and his partner drone on and say the same things over and over. Well, I am very happy to announce that the in game commentary has been greatly improved. First of all, the commentary is more realistic and feels more like you are watching a professional game instead of just playing a video game. Mostly, the commentary improvement comes from more diversity and a bit more modern references. For example, the commentators reference fantasy football, which they sometimes do in real life.
The in-game player introductions are more energetic. In previous games, the player intros were just a player picture of them smiling, or making a serious face, and it was always just something I never paid attention to. Now, I want to see them because I don’t know what they will do next time. I’m hoping that Rob Gronkowski pretends to spike a ball. The graphics are outstanding, and the player movements and animations are so realistic -- which allows these introductions to happen. The movement shows how excited they are for the game to start as they mimic shooting arrows into the sky or flex for the camera. The players' audio has become more realistic as well because you can hear them grunt when they make a juke, or get tackled, and you can hear them breathing hard when they make a long play down the field.
They have also added more celebrations. While playing as the Packers vs the Chiefs, I got a sack as Julius Peppers -- who then did the whip and naenae. These little details makes the game feel more down to Earth, as the players do those celebrations in real life.
If you are looking for a Madden with a great soundtrack, though, then go back to Madden 10 or 16. This Madden missed the mark on the music. The other Maddens that I mentioned had a good mix of genres. In Madden 17 it is all crappy rap and hip-hop music. If you are that person saying “rap isn’t that bad” you haven’t heard the terrible rap in Madden 17 -- there is much better music out there.
The menu is vastly improved, the colors are better, and everything is clearer. They kept the overall layout of the menu screen, but the backgrounds of some of the other screens just look better. It’s not some monumental change but it still makes using the menus a much better experience.
Also, as a quality of life improvement for the players of the game, there is a better skip feature during games. You can now skip timeouts and some other elements, like challenge reviews, that just tend ruin the momentum of the game. Again not a massive change but it helps the overall feel of the game.
Madden 17 is easily a 9/10. The new running mechanics make it more approachable to the casual player, but it keeps the intensity up for the hardcore player. The added realism makes the game that much more immersive. It is better than any other Madden, but then again I did give it a 9/10, so it’s not perfect and so there are things to dislike.
Yes, it’s the best Madden there is, but it is also just an improvement over Madden 16, which was an improvement of Madden 15 and so on. The new Maddens are all just improved versions of the last ones. So, even if the running directional indicators, among other things, puts the Madden 17 improvements on top, the soundtrack still sucks.
Note: GameSkinny was provided a copy for review by Electronic Arts.