What’s it all about: The 27th edition of one of gaming’s most popular sports franchises, this series has been one of the most consistent and reliable throughout its history. This latest edition of Madden is full of upgrades and new features that make this one of the best Maddens in recent years.
The Good: There are always tweaks and new modes to this franchise but what players get in “Madden 16” is more substantial than in years past. The best part is, every new addition and tweak works. To be sure there are the typical improvements. Game presentation has been given a boost, with more detailed graphics, new camera and replay angles, augmented broadcast graphics and crowd enhancements. The banter of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms has also been expanded, creating a little more jocularity during a blowout and a more serious tone in closer contests.
“Madden 16” has fine tuned several classic modes. Madden Ultimate Team has returned and is better than ever. I love the new Ultimate Moments, quick challenges that drop players into specific game play situations. Want to make sure the Seahawks run the ball to score the game winning touchdown against the Patriots in the last Super Bowl? Now you can rewrite history. Connected Franchise has a new coat of paint. In game and season long goals give players targets to shoot for and reward you with XP. There’s also a new scouting system, making it easier to pick up sleepers and avoid busts when drafting. My favorite mode, Skills Trainer, has also returned, with a plenty of activities to keep any gamer busy.
The icing on the cake is two unique new features. In Draft Champions mode, a take on fantasy football, players get 15 rounds to fill out their base team. Gamers choose from select current players and even rare historic players. I skipped over Russell Wilson to wait for a big name NFL great and snagged Randall Cunningham instead. Nice! Once my team was complete, Draft Champions has a 3-game challenge where I can play against the CPU or another player-drafted team. One loss and the challenge ends. Draft Champions has a ton of replay value and is a great way to keep the game fresh.
Another welcome addition is the new receiver catch mechanics. Receivers now have multiple options for how they play the ball. An Aggressive Catch is best when battling for a reception. These are circus type catches that make your jaw drop. Run After Catch will help you break tackles after a reception and a Possession Catch makes sideline receptions easier to pull off. All of the new mechanics add some nuance to the game but each one also has a downside. This adds a sense of realism and prevents the new mechanics from being too dominant.
The Bad: I get a lot of fun in Madden out of my created player (Sorry, Peyton, but I’m speeding up your retirement). While created players are still usable, they’re a bit lost in the shuffle in “Madden 16” and not as prevalent as they used to be. Why can’t I use them in MUT, Draft Champions and Skills Trainer? I like my created players to be front and center. The menu is also a bit cluttered, making things hard to find. I still haven’t figured out how to customizing the music settings or delete saves from certain modes.
The Grade: “Madden 16” is an immersive game and just might be the most complete title in this series’ history. EA Tiburon has taken many of their best ideas from the past, perfected some recent ones and blended them all together for a masterful gameplay experience. Playing “Madden 16” is about as close as you can get to experience the real thing. It feels like football. There’s not much more a gamer can ask for than that.
+ Receiver catch mechanics add depth
+ Draft Champions provides a lot of replay value
+ Ultimate Moments in MUT will receive updates during the season
+ Finely tuned tweaks and improvements to long running features
+ Richard Sherman is no longer on the cover
- Created players not as inclusive as in years past
- Busy, unintuitive menu makes customization cumbersome
- Tell me why can’t I save mid-game again?