It's weird how some things work. For years, Madden fans have been complaining that their beloved football series hasn't been doing enough to distinguish from each entry, with only small tweaks to the game -- a few working for the better, some not. However, Madden NFL 18 couldn't feel any more different. I mean, it's still video game soccer, and those of you who have gotten accustomed to the nuances that this series includes can still take advantage of this. But some new features make it feel like a more complete and rewarding game than we have seen in prior years. So, yeah, fans, you are able to hush up now.
What actually makes this year's game stand out is the Longshot mode. Like the narrative mode that followed FIFA this past year, this really is a single-player focused mode where you try to take a prospect via the possibility of becoming a soccer player, while managing friends and other choices that could make or break his career. Even though most of the events surround quick-time style play instead of taking to the area, you truly develop feelings for the characters, thanks to topnotch acting which resembles almost a movie-making like quality. It might not be the most action-packed mode Madden has ever seen, but it's engrossing and, what's more, in-depth.
Ultimate Team Mode continues to be a flourishing characteristic for your Madden collection, as players earn new cards over the duration of the match, level up correctly, acquire upgrades and finally attempt to build a better group for themselves. That doesn't always guarantee success -- some things simply don't work as they should, especially against harder opponents -- but it does keep you pushing. Again, it provides depth, and that's the type of thing which will keep players grinding. That is, if they don't feel frustrated with the procedure. But, fortunately, most Madden players do not.
Multiplayer's Where It's At, But Longshot Is Great, Too
There is also 3v3 co-op MUT squad service, which makes things interesting in a cooperative type of way. Working together as a group provides a surprising new factor to the game, as we have been so utilized to only competing against our buddies. It likely will take a while to get everyone coordinated so they are not running all over the area, but after everything falls into place, it's a thing of beauty.
CFM is still a mode that carries over most of its content from prior seasons, but it continues to be the best thing around for die-hard football fans, since you can perform scouting and drafting for new gamers, in addition to hunting the free agent market like a boss. You also have to balance other aspects, such as keeping an eye on accidents, watching out for players that take drama to the next level (yep, they're out there -- sigh) and adjusting contracts. It's a bit technical, but a must if you insist that they are masters of their management terrain.
Now let us get to what really matters with a game such as this -- the actual gameplay. Because a soccer game could have all the characteristics in the world, but if it doesn't play like a football game, what is the purpose? Fortunately, Madden NFL 18 handles very well on this level.
Passing And Running (And Defense)
First up, it is good to see how things match up offensively and defensively. No matter what side you're on, there are loads of approaches to try and take advantage of, whether it's finding an opening to get a sack or making sure that a defensive man is in the right place. It may take a bit of practice if you're not accustomed to it, but I had no problem lining up players, switching up to an ideal one, and searching for this opening.
For that matter, the running game has seen some progress. It seems a little smoother this time around, with jukes and spins coming off a bit more naturally. And, yes, every time I'm close an end zone, I still jump in, just because I'm so elated to reach the damn thing in the first location.
There is also a strong passing game, even though it still isn't quite where it could be because of the management of an extra cursor. Needing to keep tabs on your goal can be a little tough at times, particularly against a hasty MUT competition, but once you obtain your throws off, you might realize you could land nearly all of them with ease -- provided you do not get intercepted, of course. (Again, they're out there.)
Wrapping It All Up
With this in consequence, the football does seem a bit more realistic, and there's a terrific use of colour and player versions, especially after you nail a large handle. It is not perfect, however, as there are occasional frame rate stutters and weird-looking players out there. In general, though, it's still fairly easy, and definitely something to build upon for future games.
The audio isn't bad. The music selections are pretty good; the audience noise is about as strong as you could expect it to be; along with the running commentary is not too bad, save for some mild incorrect facts. And, hey, it is great to see Madden back into his own game.
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