Madden NFL 17 Review (Xbox One)
It’s September, which means only one thing to a certain group of gamers; it’s sports season! From Football to American Football, we’ll be covering them all and EA SPORTS Madden NFL 17 is first out of the GlitchFreeGaming locker room.
With annual sports games it’s unavoidable to compare them with their previous years counterpart, so let’s have a look to see how Madden NFL 17 stacks up to Madden NFL 16, which I reviewed for CalmDownTom.
On the Field
Madden NFL 16 was really impressive on the field of play. The catching mechanics that were implemented well last year remain untouched. Instead, Madden NFL 17 looks to improve its running game. Two new features help you with both running the ball and running after the catch.
The first of which is an improvement to the skill move mechanics. There are now several combinations of LT/RT and the RS for dodge and duke moves, as well as the B (Spin) and X(Dive) buttons from last year. For the running backs the A button is a good option for using the stiff arm move to push prospective tacklers out of the way.
The second is a brand new feature – Tackle Battles! These come in the form of a quick time button press whenever your player get engaged in a tackle that could be broken. A button indicator will appear above the head of your player, and the first person to press the button (presumably some arbitrary time value for the CPU) wins the battle and either the tackle is broken, or the defender makes the tackle stick.
Looking good Gronk
None of these close control features would work well without some solid player physics and animations, and they are absolutely there. One thing that I did notice last year was the occasional strange rag-doll physics nature of some of the player movements. These have mostly been smoothed out in Madden NFL 17 and the additions to the animation library are really impressive. Bumping around in the running game your player can start to lose balance. With careful control of the direction sticks you can help him regain his balance and power on. Or a defender might just clip your toes and you will stumble a few steps before falling to the ground. Nothing about the animations stands out as odd in Madden NFL 17, which has to be praised.
Play Madden NFL 17 your way
If you are familiar with the Madden NFL series then you will know the main game modes, and they are all there again in Madden NFL 17. Franchise mode has had some uplift with a few new features, especially when playing as the coach. There are new “Big Decisions” for you to make with things such as player signings and injuries. Training lets you run one offensive and one defensive drill each week, with a bonus then applied to your players when using those formations in that weeks game.
You have a few options when playing the games in Franchise mode. You can of course play out the full game, but “ain’t nobody got time fo’ that” as it will take a good hour to get through a game. The new options allow you to play as either just offence or just defence, but the recommend mode is “Play the Moment” in which you only take control for key moments such as Red Zone action, big 3rd downs or when your defence is taking a pounding and needs your help to get out of a rut. This is a much faster paced way to play the game, bringing you all the action in about twenty minutes. When you aren’t playing, super sim takes over and this year the plays are laid out in an Augmented UI style familiar to anyone who watches NFL on TV
Playing Franchise mode as a player seems to be a bit more enjoyable this year too, yet I can’t really put my finger on why. Again you get to run a practise drill with your player before playing the game, and get to use the super sim mode while you aren’t on the field.
Madden Ultimate Team
Madden Ultimate Team (or MUT) is the staple of Madden NFL 17. If you have played an EASPORTS game in the last few years and don’t know what Ultimate Team is then you are missing out. MUT is arguably the best of the three (Madden, NHL, FIFA) mostly down to the format of the team required in NFL games. Ultimate Team is packed out with Solo Challenges again in Madden NFL 17, along with the option of playing head to head and taking on Draft Championships, all with the aim of improving your team through opening packs and completing sets. One of the new sets for this year are the Milestones, with a different type of Milestone challenge available each day of the week.
One of my biggest gripes with Madden NFL 16 was how slow the menus were, in particular when playing Ultimate Team and trying to complete the short challenges. Failing meant you were punted out the menu and had to go through the slow load back in. Thankfully EA SPORTS have listened and you now have the option to instantly restart a challenge should you fail it.
Draft Championships lets you play with the big fantasy team without the grind of building one up in Ultimate team. You get 15 rounds to draft a team, picking one player from three in each round after the first (in which you pick a coach). New to Madden NFL 17 are Friday Night Drafts. Every Friday there are more Elite players in the draw and you can pick up greater rewards in ranked challenges. There are also some Friday exclusive sets to complete with rewards from the Friday Night Draft games.
New Commentary Team
So I spoke about this on our E3 Roundup Podcast. There’s a new commentary team in Madden NFL 17. Now I quite liked the guys from last year as they were the commentary team from FOX Sports that you can hear week in week out from watching the NFL. However, they only had so much time to record commentary for NFL 16 that you were hearing the same lines over and over again. This year, EA SPORTS decided to commission a new, dedicated pair of commentators (Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis) to record a much more in-depth and dynamic commentary library. Sure you still hear the occasional repeat, but there are also a whole bunch of hidden conversations that only appear in very particular game situations. The commentary team are also going to be available throughout the NFL season this year to help add new commentary based on the real results in the NFL.
Building on success
Madden NFL 17 really has built on the success of Madden NFL 16. EA SPORTS have actually listened to fans requests and complaints, and for the large part have delivered. I can only come up with two minor negatives for Madden NFL 17; the soundtrack isn’t as good as last year and there is no way to transfer any left over Ultimate Team points from Madden NFL 16 to Madden NFL 17. This last one is a bit of a sore point as you are able to do it in FIFA the first time you load up Ultimate Team, but Madden gives you no choice to do this. So any left over points (that are bought through micro-transactions) are best spent before moving over to this years game, as they otherwise become worthless, especially as MUT 16 will essentially be a graveyard now that Madden NFL 17 is out.
Other than that, Madden NFL 17 is bigger and better and set the bar high for this years sports category.
3rd and goal from the 1! (9/10)