Madden NFL 17
28. It’s not just the number of Minnesota Vikings Star Running Back, Adrian Peterson, it’s also the number of Madden games Electronic Arts’ Sports division has created, over the years. With each new version come new players, game modes, and features, all in an effort to create a challenging experience for their fans. The latest, Madden NFL 17, features brand new gameplay that will be tough for even the most seasoned gamer.
I began my Madden career, about 5 years ago, on Madden NFL 12 with the unfortunate cover man of then-Cleveland Browns superstar RB, Peyton Hillis. Suffice to say, I was terrible when I started. It took a lot of grinding and getting my butt handed to me in order for it to start clicking for me to win as many Madden franchises as I have, with my friends. In fact, the Madden Franchise Mode takes priority over all other games. Throughout the course of the year, we probably play through 5-6 different franchises, 4-5 seasons each, and over 100 games. Madden is that important to us.
Over time, EA Sports had neglected the Franchise Mode in favor of their Madden Ultimate Team and the new Draft Champion modes. There was actually one Madden season where EA Sports had left a glitch that allowed us to trade for any superstar player by using a fledgling wide receiver or cornerback. They never fixed it or even sent a patch for it. We exploited that so badly we created these monster teams that had no business ever existing. So, when I had the opportunity to see all the new features added to Franchise Mode, I became overjoyed.
The 28th edition of Madden focuses a lot on Franchise Mode by including a plethora of new additions to enjoy. For instance, EA Sports finally gave us more options when constructing our coaches! Previously, the coach creator was limited to the same faces and clothes. Now, there are several customizable options to choose from. New faces, skin tones, build, and even a picture. Old Madden games merely had an outline. Now, we get to see our coach. It’s a small thing but the devil is in the details.
Madden NFL 17’s Franchise Mode also includes a more in-depth practice experience that even shows percentages of plays an opponent uses week-to-week. This changes the game for everyone as it exposes what players like to do and can now gameplan for it. The result will force players to change the way they play and add more variety to their games. However, my favorite feature is the addition of the Practice Squad. Before, players we liked but needed development would get cut in favor of players who could help the team right then. Now, players can simply be moved to the practice squad and slowly develop until they get added to the main roster. It’s similar to how a NFL team works. The flip side to that benefit is much like an NFL team, as well. Other teams can sign your practice squad players to their active roster, if they need them. So, if you want them you have to include them.
I love these features in Franchise Mode. It shows that EA Sports is really listening to us, the fans. They are also listening in other ways, as well. Last year’s gameplay mechanics were riddled with bugs and unnecessary catching methods. In 17, all the RAC, Aggressive, and Conservative catches are seemingly gone. Instead, the player will catch the ball in the manner they see fit. Usually, I wouldn’t be a fan of reducing gameplay. However in this case, it was necessary because they functions they added were completely unnecessary.
Another part of the game that’s been improved is the running game. This new Madden really captures what it takes to run. The offensive line will actually get to the second level and do some sweet cut-blocks, much like they do in the NFL. RBs have more abilities now, as well. They’ve added ways to hurdle and fight through tackles, in game. There’s a potential that these will become as useless as the catching abilities in 16 but, for now, it is helpful. Plus, stiff arms actually work. Contrary to 16 which had RBs holding their hand out for nothing, 17 actually has RBs pushing defenders down on their way to the endzone.
While every feature may sound great, the one thing that’s not is the kicking game. EA Sports went out of their way to make the kicking game hard. Previously, you used the right joystick to flick the power and accuracy. Now, they’ve gone back to the X/A dial that takes timing to get right. As of today, I have only made about 3 extra points and 2 field goals and I’ve gone through probably 12 games both online and against CPU, it’s that hard. It definitely adds another challenging element to Madden and it will force a lot of people, including myself, to go for two. Special Teams as whole has been improved. They actually changed it to make blocking punts and field goals possible too.
Other elements have changed with this version, as well. CBS’ A-Team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are out as commentators and have been replaced with the unlikely collegiate duo of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. Gaudin, a commentator for Westwood One’s college games, and Davis, College/NFL commentator and NFL Network regular, make for an entertaining commentary team. In fact, Gaudin does something that they haven’t had before. He actually reacts to when you skip commercial breaks. When those things happen, he acts like he was in the middle of something else before the halftime show got cut off. It’s a light-hearted, funny bit. That’s what you can expect from these two. Also, the fact that they continue to update commentary on a week-to-week basis. I was playing with Osweiler after the first preseason game and they talked about it how he did, in the middle of my game. Things like this make for an enjoyable Madden experience because you’re not listening to the same commentary over and over and over.
In terms of graphics and facial recognition, they do a decent job with it. It’s not anything like FIFA 17’s updated graphic system, but it’s not bad. Much like they did last year, I fully expect an update to come out correcting any blemishes. That being said, the colors are quite beautiful and the stadiums look perfect, as always. I also really enjoy the new slow-motion replay system. It adds a cool layer of intensity to big plays.
Overall, I’m really enjoying Madden NFL 17. The new features and additions have made it the most challenging one, so far. Overcoming those challenges have made for even better gameplay experiences. In 16, winning had become second nature. I knew how to run the ball, I knew how to break offenses with my secondary. Now, that won’t be as easy. Whereas I’d tailor my game to speed, now power has some advantage. Madden NFL 17 is a much more well-balanced game than its predecessors. It’s got some glitches, as all Madden games do, but they usually send patches to fix those. Plus, the added features in Franchise make me even more excited because it feels like Madden is closer to actually being like an NFL franchise. It is because of this that I am ecstatic that it is officially time for Madden Season!