Graphics:
8.8
Gameplay:
8.7
Sound:
8.4
Control:
8.5
Replay Value:
9.0
Online Gameplay:
8.5
Overall Rating:
8.6
Publisher:
EA Sports
Developer:
EA Tiburon
Number Of Players:
1-4
Genre:
Sports
Release Date:
August 25, 2015


Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Oh yay, another roster update.” However, while I admit such a dismissive stance was probably warranted during the 11-14 years, I don’t believe it’s viable when talking about the last two Madden entries. Last year’s solid effort fell a little shy of simulated football greatness but worked hard to amp up the defensive side of the ball, which didn’t go unnoticed. And this year, the developers at EA Tiburon have taken another step forward, this time simultaneously increasing the accessibility and realism (no mean feat) and providing pigskin lovers with a very satisfying game. Welcome to Madden NFL 16 , where you will be justly rewarded and entertained.

To be honest, I haven’t been especially impressed with the visual presentations of Madden titles in recent years. It just seems like the sports games are lagging behind other genres in the category of ultra-realistic graphics, you know? However, I must say that this year’s football entry looks fantastic: The many many animations are smooth (not counting the occasionally jerky sideline shots), the stadiums are meticulously created, and the players have never looked more authentic. This is the most dynamic, engaging visual display we’ve seen yet, as the developers combine the glitz and flash of a TV production with the appeal of finely honed gameplay. No corners have been cut, despite the fact that some players still look funny.

The sound is about what you’d expect, with one unfortunate downside: They let the players talk too much. Granted, you really only experience this during the introduction and tutorials, but Ben Roethlisberger is not a voice actor and this much is painfully obvious. Also, when you eliminate the swearing from the sideline chatter, it just sounds forced and awkward (a depressing sports commentary but it’s true). Aside from that, the in-game effects are almost picture perfect – with a few minor balancing issues – and there’s a surprisingly diverse soundtrack to accompany your menu surfing. The good news is that you will, of course, spend most of your time on the field, where the audio shines.

Upon first diving into Madden NFL 16 , I was immediately conflicted. As was the case with Rory McIlroy PGA Tour , the game drops you into a high-pressure situation that acts as a tutorial. In the latter title, you played a few important holes at the PGA Championship, which were basically scripted. It’s not a bad plan, because tutorials are usually bland and boring but this way, you can learn the basics while being involved in what appears to be a major contest. In the case of the new Madden , it’s Super Bowl 50, where the Pittsburgh Steelers are facing the Arizona Cardinals. At certain critical points in the game, you will take control of the Steelers and attempt to come back and win the championship.

Like I said, it’s a great idea, but there are a few problems with this one: Firstly, nobody really cared much about this match-up when it happened in reality 7 years ago. Secondly, as I said above, having to listen to Roethlisberger rally the troops is so forced it’s laughable. Thirdly, you’re not really learning much; you’re just being told which button to press, for the most part. Now, the good news is that you can indeed fail and there are multiple endings to this particular scripted event. When done, you can actually go back and see different outcomes, although I can’t imagine why you’d bother. At any rate, this whole intro idea was sound but it just fell flat in my estimation, and made me leery of what lay ahead.

But thankfully, everything got a lot better once I started learning and experimenting. With the always popular Ultimate Team, hardcore fans can immerse themselves in a mode that is fully customizable, in that you can choose your team style and go above and beyond the standard call of duty. While at the same time, even those who aren’t die-hard fans might notice the distinct balancing alteration, in that defense doesn’t entirely rule the day, as it did in last year’s entry. Plus, with a bunch of tutorials and drills to get you accustomed to the new gameplay features and general flow of the game, the latest Madden effectively caters to a very wide audience. In fact, one could argue it satisfies the widest demographic since the old-school SNES days.