Madden NFL 17 Review
Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Madden NFL 17. 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.
Though it's a yearly release, there are two very distinct release cycles for EA's Madden football series. One builds it's marketing campaign around a flashy new feature like the Quarterback Cone and the majority of the game remains unchanged but then there are the other years, which promote the game's release as an experience that adds small touches to the already established formula. Madden NFL 17 is thankfully the later and it's a better game for it. It forgoes a major gameplay gimmick this year in exchange for a solid football game that's spent the offseason working on the basics. The end result is a game that's not quite ready for a Super Bowl run but puts together one hell of a drive in the process.
Ok, so maybe it's not exactly fair to say that Madden hasn't added any big new features as the run game has been vastly improved from previous entries in the series but it's more of a refinement of the previous mechanic than anything else. On a running play you'll have the option of doing speed or finesse moves to avoid tacklers and gain more yardage. Playing on Xbox One for instance you can juke or spin using one of the triggers and flicking one of the sticks in a certain direction. While this was technically present in a much lesser form in last year's game, Madden NFL 17 makes it a point to make sure you the system since it's so integral to the moment to moment gameplay. I'm not going to even try to tell you I'm a great Madden player, I'm the type of player who on running players just kind of runs in the direction of the end zone and hopes for the best with the occasional move (don't act like I'm the only one) but with Madden NFL 17 even my running game stands a chance.
Madden 17's emphasis on building up this year's run game has a strong impact on the rest of the on field experience as well. Today's NFL is a very quarterback friendly league and the pass is so important but so is the run and EA's commitment to that has opened up the entire offense. Receivers can use the same running mechanics and turning a standard pass into a huge gain is immensely satisfying. The same catch type mini game that had you choosing between different catch types from previous year's releases is here and putting everything together feels wonderful. It also of course helps to have a much more balanced offense. Football 101: having a better running game opens up the passing game and forces the defense to be honest and with these new mechanics I felt more more confident in doing so.
The main result of all of this is that team's have more of an identity similar to what you'd see on Sundays. Unlike in past years if a team doesn't have that standout quarterback under center, they're not going to attempt to put all of their offensive hopes on him, especially if they have a weapon in the backfield. Running backs like Adrian Peterson are much more dangerous this year and you'll have to adjust your defense according. Similarly, going up against someone like Tom Brady means the whole field is now in play and yes, you're going to have to adjust your game as a result. For what it's worth, the defensive side of the ball didn't get as many upgrades as offense but it still feels like it's benefited from the changes made by the development team.
Each of the established gameplay modes makes it's return this year and just like the past years, franchise will be your main course. The mode remains pretty much the same from previous years but much the same as everything else in this review; it's been much more streamlined. Franchise mode finds you taking the role of either player, coach or owner and take your favorite team through multiple seasons in search of greatness. There are a lot of decisions to make in franchise mode, especially if you choose to play as a coach or owner and to be honest I would only dabble in them in previous years. I would take a look at things like practice, prospect scouting and free agents but the game never seemed to make them a priority. This year, they're on the starting page of each week under the headline “things to do” and they're pretty hard to ignore. You can still do so but choosing to partake in them has given me the best franchise experience I've had in years...in any sports game. Again, nothing here is new but it's laid out in such an simple way that it's almost more work to go around them.
Franchise mode plays out like a sports themed RPG again this year and Madden 17 makes it easier to decide how to navigate the experience (notice a trend here?). After each practice or game you'll get an update on how your player is progressing and get the chance to allot any unspent points you may have earned. Players not only get experience points but things like great performance on the field or negotiating a great new contract will net them confidence points which make a surprisingly great deal of difference on the field. A ticket at the bottom of the screen also keeps you updated on how your players are progressing towards their weekly, yearly and career goals so you're always in tune with what you need to do to get your players to the next level.
Visually, Madden looks much like previous games with minor improvements but the big changes have been in the commentary booth. Each year I've been begging for a new take on commentary and this year I finally get it in the form of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. Thankfully the CBS duo of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are gone this year and the game benefits as a result. Commentary feels much more natural here and you'll hear player specific calls as well as accurate calls specific to each situation you'll have on the field. Surprisingly it took until about my fifth game in my first year in franchise mode before I started hearing repeating calls but EA promises to have constant updates to the commentary system to help change that. There were more than a few times though that the announcers just plain got things wrong though, like when I was beating the Vikings by like ten points and Minnesota kicked a field goal before half time to bring the difference down to seven and the announcers made it a point to say that the game was tied. This happened multiple times and is hopefully addressed in an update.
This year's Madden may not be a Super Bowl contender but like all of the great teams throughout history, it presents a balanced game plan that promises to better than it was yesterday. The changes may seem small on the outside but they make a huge difference to both the moment to moment gameplay and how long your experience will last. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to win my thirtieth straight Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers.
Joe started off writing about video games for small fan sites when he realized he should probably do something with his communications degree and didn't want to get into the grind of daily reporting. Joining the team in late 2008, Joe is the featured game reviewer for Cheat Happens, producing up to 10 CHEATfactor Game Reviews per month.
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