Madden NFL 16 Review
 CHEATfactor Game Review by:  Joe Sinicki Reviewed on: XBox One 

Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Madden NFL 16. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.

The last few years the Madden NFL series has played like a team without a leader. It's shown moments of greatness but it's fallen short countless times and disappointed it's legions of fans. This year though, a steady list of improvements has led to a game that's actually worth playing and while it's not a Superbowl contender quite yet, it is primed for a deep playoff run and for the first time in a long time fans are excited about the future of one of gaming's most prolific series. adds a huge amount of strategy ...
Madden NFL 16 Review Screenshot

The biggest change in this year's series is the addition of strategic catch styles for receivers and while it may not seem like a huge change, it adds a huge amount of strategy to an element of the gameplay that's been ignored for years. Here's how it works; say your quarterback is dropping back for a pass and you've got a receiver doing a post route about fifteen years down the field. The ability for the quarterback to throw different styles of passes down the field has always been there (though not well advertised) but now the receiver can either try to make a catch that allows him to try for extra yards after the catch or make an aggressive catch; most useful when fighting for a ball thrown higher or in the end zone.

There's a lot of depth hidden inside this seemingly small mechanic. Try to perform an acrobatic catch with a lesser receiver and you'll quickly be on the wrong end of a pick-6 or you'll find your quarterback's passer rating going down with each incomplete pass. It's extremely satisfying when it pays off for a long pass down field, or a crucial first down pick-up but it's always a gamble for sure. The defense has similar new controls and if you're playing against a skilled player or on a higher difficulty setting, they'll be able to take advantage of a mistake a lot quicker and more often than in previous games. It may be harder for newer and casual players to jump in this year but the payoff for veterans and people willing to put the time in is unquestionable.

My only gripe with this new system is how it makes the extraordinary seem much more mundane.  It seemed like at least once or twice a quarter someone was making a spectacular catch and pretty soon they became nothing to really even think twice about. What's worse, it was regularly being done by receivers who would never be able to make these diving grabs in real life. For every time Jordy Nelson or Odell Beckham Jr would make a diving catch for a touchdown it felt like a no name receiver would make three. This may sound like the ramblings of a jaded gamer but why would I care about these spectacular catches if they're a regular occurrence?

It's all part of the risk VS reward system...
Madden NFL 16 Review Screenshot

Like in previous years, most players will likely spend the bulk of their time with the franchise mode. While not much has changed from last year's game, the biggest addition is a more streamlined RPG like goal system that allows you to progress your players from week to week. While the series has seen this before, this year's game is the first time I've actually cared about it. Goals like having your quarterback pass for thirty yards in a drive or your middle linebacker having three tackles in a quarter are something to shoot for but admittedly some of the goals take away from how you want to play. For instance one of my drive goals had me passing for a touchdown for extra experience and confidence points for my receiver and quarterback, but I was in an obvious run situation and trying to force it resorted in an interception. It's all part of the risk VS reward system that's featured so heavily in this year's game. Having a team that's hit their goals and is thus confident going into a major game can mean the difference between a win and loss.

The only major new addition mode-wise is draft champions, which plays like a mixture of the fan favorite Ultimate Team mode and fantasy football. You'll start with picking a coach, which then let's you decide on offensive and defensive schemes. You'll then be given a choice between a few different players in each round to fill your team. It's essentially a more fleshed out version of the fantasy draft found in previous iterations of the game but it also gives you a chance to try out newer players without diving in head first and committing to them. I couldn't help but feel like draft champions would be the standout mode of future editions of the game.

Visually, Madden NFL 16 looks a lot like last year's game
Madden NFL 16 Review Screenshot

Visually, Madden NFL 16 looks a lot like last year's game. There are added details like certain animations, grass textures and certain player's faces that look better this year but you'd be forgiven if you mistook it for Madden 15. This is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the entire game as much of the presentation hasn't changed from last year...or the year before. Jim Nantz and Phil Simms return on commentary and their lines are mostly recycled from previous games. Even the newer lines are strange though as they often contradict each other. On my first few runs with Eddie Lacy I got into the open field and chewed up a ton of yardage but on the next play I was told how I haven't been successful. What? The intros to the games are exactly the same as well. If Madden wants a seriously successful year they're going to need to fix the presentation issues sooner rather than later.

This year, Madden may not be Superbowl contender but it is primed to make a serious run and be a contender. It's added depth and strategy will please new players and give them new reasons to play and adapt their strategy. New players may have a tougher time jumping in this year than ever before but it'll be worth it when they truly feel like they've mastered the game's strategic elements. It may not be a full on touchdown, but Madden NFL 16 is a convincing first down pass on a drive to the end zone.

Overall:  8/10 Presentation: 7 Gameplay: 8 
Lasting Appeal: 7 CHEATfactor: 0 

As of this writing there are no cheats for Madden NFL 16. Stick with Cheat Happens for more as they become available!