Publisher: Electronic Arts
ESRB: E for Everyone (Online play not rated)
Reviewed for Xbox One, also available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360
Football season is almost upon us and with it comes a new iteration of the longstanding Madden franchise. John Madden Football is the Marshawn Lynch of video games. It is virtually unstoppable. The only real question is whether the game is very different from the last one. Electronic Arts only has a year between games so a massive overhaul is never in the cards. The good news for longtime fans of the series is that Madden 16 includes some subtle changes that help enhance the game and make it emulate the NFL game more fully.
This biggest change is found in the passing game.
Quarterbacks have more control over their throws. Holding the right and left bumpers and triggers on the controller will place the ball either low (and away from the defender) or high (to get those back shoulder fades just like Aaron Rodgers).
Receivers can be controlled in such a way that they can either aggressively leap towards the ball, position themselves for a run after the catch, or secure the ball. These options can be ignored, but they do give players more fine control over the game.
Defenders have options too. You can hold a button to have them make a play on the ball. This will help them jump routes for interceptions or punch the ball out on jump balls. Good timing will give you a better chance to turn things to your advantage.
They did introduce the new Draft Champions mode where you are taken through 15 rounds of a draft where you are asked to choose between three existing players of various positions. It is a fast way to draft a new team and play against people without using existing teams. The interesting part of this mode is that round 15 is a “legend” round that will include players like Randall Cunningham, Jerry Rice, and others. It is definitely an interesting way to play the game.
The rest of the changes are essentially interface tweaks and graphical improvements. The franchise mode is, sadly, still lacking some of the depth that I would hope to have, but we can always hope for next year.
Family Gaming Assessment
Do you let your kids watch NFL games? Is so then the offline play modes in this game will not be an issue.
The standard warning regarding online play stands here. The average player online will be vulgar at best. If you do not want to risk exposing your child to foul language and other “interesting” things you should either shy away from online play or mute voice chat.
The soundtrack is definitely relevant as well. We published the song list in a separate article as well as the Spotity playlist here.
Madden 16 is a sports simulator game so it is very difficult. Even the rookie difficulty will be challenging for players who do not have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of NFL football.
It is not impossible to learn the game (frankly, everyone had to learn once), but players should have strong reading skills to read the menus and advice and it is advised to spend a lot of time in the skill drills before playing a game.
Madden stands alone as the only NFL game on the market, but it does not rest on that exclusivity very much. It is a very good game that is a great way for families that love the game of football to share that enthusiasm.