DAR Reviews: Madden '16 Review

By @Peagle05

4th quarter, game tied at 21, 2:15 on the clock and Tom Brady has the ball. I had just scored to tie the game on a Demarco Murray run after being down most of the game. My Eagles are 11-1 on an 11 game win streak after an embarrassing performance in the first week against the Falcons. All of that however is about to be erased by the Patriots. Now begins the stress as Tom Brady does Tom Brady things and cuts through my defense all the way to the 3 yard line. After eating a steady dose of Gronk all the way down the field, I manage to hold the Patriots to 3. 24-21, Pats. I have no timeouts and 33 seconds to work. I let the kick go out of bounds, not wanting to blow any clock on what would surely be a return to the 20 anyway. I line up in the shotgun formation, surprised the Pats haven't gone prevent defense and snap the ball. I hit Jordan Matthews on a streak and hold the square button to ensure some yards after the catch and then slam the triangle button to rush to the line. The next snap will be my last. I'm 45 yards from a win, I see Matthews get a little separation and heave the ball down field, the DB gets even with Jordan, and I hold the triangle button for an aggressive catch, he leaps, snatches it out of the air with two hands and lands in the endzone...ballgame. 28-24 Eagles win and the streak lives on. Brock Lesnar doesn't live in New England.

That offensive sequence is just one of many that wouldn't be possible in previous Madden games. But this is Madden 16. This is more than a 60 dollar roster update. EA Sports has finally given the passing game the overhaul it so desperately needed and it pays dividends. The ability to choose between a possession catch, an aggressive catch, or a RAC (Run After Catch) adds an entire layer of strategy to the passing game. If you want an aggressive catch, then there's a chance you take a big hit. Possession catch, is the more sure of the three, but you give the DB a split second more to pick it off and RAC lets you take it upfield, but its easier to swat the ball out of the receiver's hands. There is a slight learning curve as you're basically being asked to process that along with not getting sacked and reading the defense but once you nail it, it feels great. The defense wasn't neglected either as DBs now have the ability to play the man and ensure a tackle or get aggressive and play the ball for an attempt at swatting the ball away or picking it off. These additions finally make the game feel not only realistic, but incredibly balanced as one side never feels overpowered. I've never had an instance where I could just chuck it and slam the triangle button the whole game. The running game has seen slight improvements as well. Now at the press of a button you can "get skinny" while running through the middle to avoid getting stuck on your blocks. Tackling animations have improved as well, we finally have true gang tackling that doesn't look ridiculous. And it works.

As far as modes go, the Connected Franchise mode hasn't seen too many changes outside of a much improved scouting system that lets you truly see where prospects are projected. The progression system seems to be changed for the better as well. In-game goals provide confidence and XP boosts that seem to be able to affect the moment to moment gameplay. Ultimate Team is what it has always been, definitely one of the love it or hate it modes. The big addition as far as modes go is the new Draft Champions mode. The best way to describe it is playable fantasy football. You get 15 rounds and 3 cards a round. The strategy involved here is trying to figure out who your pick is. Your base team is made up of guys in the 70s range. When you see your options you have to decide, you have no QB do you want to take Matt Ryan now, or take Jason Peters and bolster your O-line? Either way you take the chance hoping that you can fill the hole you passed on in a later round with a better player. Because you only get 15 total picks you truly have to weigh your options. Once your team is set, you take them through a single elimination tournament either online against the CPU. It's a fun addition and I hope to see some expansion of it in the future.

Overall, this is easily the best Madden in years with the most important additions and overhauls since the introduction of the Hit Stick in 05. If you've skipped Madden over the last few years, now is the time to get back at it. It's Madden Season, and it feels better than ever.



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