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Madden NFL 16 Review


Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Format: Xbox One
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Copy provided by publisher
When I think of sports games that come out annually, I usually think of a new roster update and a few new features but nothing of significance. That's not the case with Madden 16. This years Madden adds a new game mode called Draft Champions and changes to some of the games core mechanics. Madden Ultimate Team and Franchise mode also return.


Draft Champions is a mixture of a fantasy draft, Madden Ultimate Team and the NFL playoffs. After choosing one of 3 head coaches and having a base roster generated for you, you complete a 15 round draft where you get to choose between 3 players at different positions to fill out your roster. The base roster is full of some low rated guys but the players you get to choose from in the draft are usually pretty high rated. Most of the time, you'll get to choose from positions you actually need to upgrade as well.

After the draft you can then choose to play against the computer or go head to head in an online tournament. The solo tournament is over when you reach 3 wins or one loss, whichever comes first. Head to head is 4 wins, 1 loss. In the solo tournament, the game difficulty seems to go up each game but I'm not really sure if it is actually a difficulty increase or I was just facing better teams each round but it did get tougher consistently with each tournament I played. The head to head difficulty all depends on your opponents skill level.

You also unlock cards to use in Madden Ultimate Team in Draft Champions. The better you do, the greater reward, e.g. lose the first game and get one card, win the first two games you get an entire pack. You can play these tournaments over and over and they don't take too long to complete. 3 minute quarters. Draft Champions is a great addition to the Madden Franchise and something I hope to see more of in future iterations.


As for the changes in game mechanics, this years game focuses on passing and introduces new ways to pass and catch the ball. Receivers now have new options to catch the ball depending on the situation, aggressive, possession & run after catch. The aggressive catch comes in handy when your receiver is tightly covered and you want to go over a defender to try and make highlight reel type catch. This can result in some Odell Beckham like catches but it also leaves your receiver vulnerable to big hits and resulted in a few fumbles when I overused it.

The run after catch option is great when you have a little space between you and the defender and want to maximize the amount of yards gained after a catch by catching the ball in stride. Possession catch is the safe play. The game also flashes a button prompt above the receiver for whatever type of catch is best suited for the current play so you can take advantage of these new mechanics from the jump with virtually no learning curve.


On defense, DBs now have the 'Ball Hawk' & 'Play Receiver' option. The Ball Hawk option is great if you want to play the ball and go for the interception but is also risky as it can also lead to blown coverage and giving up a lot of yards or a touchdown if your defender is too far out of position to get back and make the tackle. Or you can play the receiver and pretty much guarantee the tackle is made but have much less of a chance of forcing a turnover. The DB will try to swat the ball or knock it out of the receivers hands though. These are also done with button prompts that appear during the play.

Quarterbacks also have a few new mechanics. You can now double tap your receivers icon to make a touch pass which is useful for getting your receiver the ball in double coverage or any other type of tight coverage for that matter. You also have the option of the a high or low pass if you want to try and put the ball right where only your receiver can make a play on it. These new passes are done by holding the left bumper for a high pass or left trigger for a low pass and pressing your receivers icon. Lob and bullet passes are still there and with these new mechanics, Madden  now has 5 ways to pass the ball in total making for some of the most precise passing I've seen in a Madden game.


In franchise mode, you can still choose to build your legacy as either a player, coach or owner and is pretty much the same as 15. The only new thing I noticed about this mode is the dynamic drive goals which are in game goals given during a game, depending on the situation and changing with every every game, like complete XX consecutive passes etc. Madden Ultimate Team is also pretty much the same besides the addition of Re-write History which is basically just Madden Ultimate Moments inside the MUT section of the game. Completing Re-write history challenges is a great way to earn cards and coins quickly.

The only downsides I saw in the game were a few minor bugs. Quite a few times I got called for encroachment coming out of the huddle and when I tried shifting my D-line, they would only move into their new position about 25% of the time. This was usually fixed by manually putting them into position before the snap but makes it hard to get all adjustments done in time. The one other thing I didn't like during my experience is a few times the opposing quarterback drew me offsides with a hard count. Normally this wouldn't bother me if it was the a.i. jumping but the fact that it was the defensive lineman I was controlling and I had nothing to do with it made this irritating.

Conclusion

Madden 16 is the best Madden I've played since Madden 10. It builds on what Madden 15 had to offer and has tons of new gameplay mechanics giving the gameplay a fresh new feel and the new Draft Champions game mode is awesome. The online works the way it's suppose to and the soundtrack and graphics are also pretty damn good.

Summary:
+ Great new gameplay mechanics
+ Draft Champions mode
+ Graphics
+ Music
- A few bugs

Score: 9/10 "Amazing"

What I played: 10+ hours playing every game mode and dominating. GO LIONS!
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