Game review: Madden NFL 16

Madden looks as great as ever in the 2016 iteration. Picture: Contributed
Madden looks as great as ever in the 2016 iteration. Picture: Contributed
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A fine addition to the long-running American football series

Game review: Madden NFL 16

Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3

Score: 8/10

IT has been more than a decade since the Madden franchise had a competitor, a surprising situation given the sport’s popularity across the Atlantic and, increasingly, on these shores. At times, EA’s monopoly has encouraged complacency, with a few uninspired editions over the course of the past decade leaving many fans disillusioned. Last year, however, the firm demonstrated a renewed appetite for Madden, with thoughtful tweaks allowing you judge how far a player’s lunge will reach and deciding whether you should pile into all tackle at full pelt or tone down the aggression .

Madden NFL 16 lies somewhere between these two approaches. It does not revolutionise one of the longest series in gaming, nor does it allow it to rest on its laurels. Effectively, it is a revision and a recalibration of what has gone before, with even the little tweaks adding something different and pleasing to the time honoured formula that does just enough to warrant its purchase.

Increased control over receivers gives you greater agency in offence

The most enjoyable change and one that will delight those who believe Madden should be as approximate a simulation of American as football is the overhaul of the passing between quarterback and wide receivers. Once very much a case of hit and hope, Madden NFL 16 introduces nuanced mechanics which allow pinpoint precision over where - and how - receivers take a ball. It might not sound like much, but in practice, it gives the player much greater agency over offensive moves.

In term of modes, Ultimate Team is still the dominant offering, with a worrying push towards microtransactions. But EA deserve credit for Draft Champions, which asks players to select a team over 15 rounds, deciding what overall strategy and tactics they favour and selecting the squad best suited. It is a surprisingly thoughtful process as sometimes the outstanding player is not always the ideal fit and chances are, you will be meddling with your selections for some time to come in search of the right balance.

Visually it looks marvellous, but loading times are lengthy

Presentation-wide, Madden NFL 16 hits all the notes you would expect. It looks marvellous, especially in motion, although EA’s broadcast-style adoration of replays and big set piece moments comes at a cost, with lengthy loading times. Overall, however, this is a fine addition to the canon and it shows that even though there may be no opposition, the developers behind Madden are still capable of raising their game.

TIPS AND TRICKS:

For Scottish players who perhaps lack an in depth knowledge of American football plays, make use of the coach suggestions.

Playing as a receiver, it is tempting to take the ball with a ‘run after’ catch, allowing you to break away quickly, but monitor the opposition. The chances of a fumble are far higher.

On defence, it is worthwhile playing the receiver, as getting to them early can reduce the yardage gained.