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Madden NFL 18 Review in Progress

Madden NFL 18 Review in Progress
From IGN - August 16, 2017
By Dustin Toms

[Editors Note: This review is in progress because we only recently received review copies and need to put in more time with it for a thorough review. You can expect our final review early next week. In the meantime, here are our reviewers thoughts on the first hours with Madden NFL 2018.]

Ask Tom Brady and Matt Ryan what they think about halftime adjustments. Those adjustments, major or minor, are the key to winning any football gameand thats exactly the kind of change Madden NFL 18 has made to EAs series. Madden is coming out of the locker room with more than an adjustment to its gameplay and story mode; the development team just stormed back onto the field with a new engine, improved gameplay, and a story mode finally worth giving a damn about.

Madden 18s move to the Frostbite Engine has enhanced the graphics dramatically, and the gameplay to an extent. While playing a rematch of last seasons Patriots vs. Falcons Super Bowl, it was easy to get distracted by the lighting effects and the improved body types, which, to my eye, have both taken the largest leap of any of Madden 18s graphical upgrades. While watching a replay I noticed details like how the glimmer of the sun flickered off of a receivers helmet, and even while referees are announcing penalties you can see that the glare in their faces is real.

The body types brought a second glance from the moment I turned on Madden NFL 18. Players still look a bit stiff and can run into each other while walking around between plays, but each position and body type is well represented, which is more than other Maddens can say. And while its a smaller touch, stadium and uniform detail have really stuck out to me. The pop from the Seahawks lime green and the Buccaneers orange is a highly appreciated detail.

On the more tangible side, the switch to the Frostbite Engine doesnt feel like a full overhaul of Maddens gameplay, which is a bummer, but my expectations werent too high considering FIFAs first foray with Frostbite encountered speed bumps from using old animations in the new engine. Fortunately, Madden doesnt encounter the same problems, and the change is for the better. The one-on-one interactions are strong, fluid, and look great in every activity Ive seen (line play, secondary coverage, and tackling). When I picked off Russell Wilson in the red zone, my DB was tripped up by Doug Baldwin, and when I took a closer look at the replay the animation was spot on. Its a shame that to truly appreciate the animations you need to watch the replays, but I highly recommend it. Gang tackling looks smoother as well, but we still see bowling pins and unnatural-looking rag dolls on occasion.

Though its easy to see the graphical improvements at a glance, EA Sports also took advantage of this opportunity to bring the single-player side of Madden to the next level with the introduction of Longshot mode: a fantastic story-based experience using motion-captured actors and a well-written script. Imagining what it wouldve looked like with last years graphics made me appreciate Frostbites upgrades even more.

Maddens old solo mode, Superstar, was what I considered a waste of space and barely worth discussing. Thankfully, EA Sports eventually saw the light and dropped it after last publishing the mode in Madden 13, which left Franchise as the only real single-player option. With Longshot, EA Sports gets the single-player story mode right by creating a mode that introduces us to more than just Madden NFL 18: its an introduction to footballsomething the series has failed to do since its introduction in 1988.

Im so used to Madden being relegated to a fun, dynamic game of multiplayer football with my best friends, and of course the ever-growing online community. And that was great, but it wasnt a good look for the NFLs exclusive console game to lack a strong solo option while single-player modes are doing great things in other sports genres like NBA 2K and EAs own FIFA series. But in Madden NFL 18, EA Sports has created a theatrical-quality, immersive, emotional, and educational single-player experience that has me glued to my TV. The Longshot story modean adventure that has taken me down the career of former blue chip quarterback Devin Wadehas captured my attention as a student of the game and keeps me wanting to come back and find out what happens next.

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