Video Game Review: Madden NFL 17

Platform Played: PS3

Also available on: Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 

The greatest sports video game franchise was starting to slip in recent years. Madden ’16 brought back a lot of hope, with improved gameplay, graphics and features. Madden ’17 manages to improve on all that the previous one offered. The most iconic sports game is better than ever. So what makes it so good? Here are my big takeaways from the PS3 version of the game:

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GAMEPLAY

The gameplay is smooth and easy. In past years they attempted to tweak the gameplay and controls. Those additions and adjustments got to the point of making the game difficult to play. Too many buttons, some unnecessary, such as the line shifts. Now the control schemes are back to brass tacks, and the game benefits from it.

Just when you think they couldn’t make these games more realistic, they do. On the offensive side, the players glide on the field. The receivers make realistic looking, one handed catches in traffic. The running backs are agile and can make swift and nifty quick cuts. They can hurdle over the opposition to gain extra yards. The stiff arms are helpful in fending off defenders. The quarterbacks have individual throwing motions that resemble their real life counterparts, and its that attention to detail that makes the presentation of modern Madden titles a worldwide phenomenon.

On defense, the player control is as interactive as it gets. Defenders can snatch away jump balls for interceptions. The best feature just might be the tackling, however. You can gang tackle, where multiple defenders converge on a player, or even push the player backwards for a bigger loss. Defenders can dive and take out a player at the knees, wrap them up and bring them down, or tackle then from the top. The variety of tackling methods makes playing defense one of the most exciting aspects of the game.

GRAPHICS

Last year’s game had top-notch graphics, and so does this year’s. The players resemble the real people of the NFL as much as a video game possibly can. What adds to that is that the game has captured the mannerisms of each prominent player, to go in tandem with their aforementioned gameplay tweaks to make each appear unique. Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant raises his hands in celebration after a big catch, in the game and in reality. The shapes and sizes of players are even reflected to match reality.

What I found to be one of the coolest looking details is the grass. The lifelike animation is at an all-time best. Unlike in the past where you can see mud, dirt and grass only dirty up a players uniform, this year they made the grass more dynamic. As the players move around, you can see the grass being kicked and uprooted from the field. As a game progresses, you can see patches of dirt forming in certain spots of the field due to the grass being kicked around and stomped on. This is such a neat, yet important details that lends a lot of authenticity to Madden 17‘s presentation value.

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FEATURES

The new ‘Play The Moment’ feature allows gamers the chance to specifically take over and play a crucial moment in the game. Don’t wanna drag through every minute of the game? This feature allows you to take over the red-zone plays or the last couple minutes of a game. This feature is accessible on offense and defense. It’s like playing a highlight reel or a Sports Center package.

The Madden ‘Ultimate Team’ is a video game fantasy draft. First you select your team. Mine was the Chicago Bears. Then you are given an option of picking your current NFL head coach (the CPU will give you only a few options, I got Mike McCarthy). Then you are given 15 rounds to make picks. Each round gives you an option of three players available from random positions. You can only pick one. This goes on for 14 rounds until round 15 comes around and you get to select an NFL legend. I had the option of picking John Elway.

Once your draft is completed, you may begin playing an NFL season with your newly drafted team. I had the fortune of playing the Jaguars, led by Colin Kaepernick. Imagine the blowout score of that game. Point is that some rosters are stacked, while others are light on talent. It’s a fun franchise kinda mode that can appeal to many Fantasy Football fans.

FINAL ANALYSIS

Madden 17 tweaks and adds on some already great modes and features from the previous year. The gameplay is as authentic and fun as ever. The look is as close to an actual NFL game as you can get. They didn’t change or do much with the intros or closings. That animation is pretty much the same from previous years, and less of it. The off-field in-game presentations are lacking a bit.

The game commentary is vastly improved. Gone is the team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms. In is the team of Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis. The commentary is way more in depth and closely matched to the in-game action taking place. The analysis is less formulaic and bland. I swear Gaudin sounds like Chicago Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper. I really enjoyed playing this year’s Madden. There was a point a few years ago with Madden ’14 & 1’5 where the game hit a wall. Nothing was fresh about it. You’d be hard pressed to find a better sports game out there. Madden is officially back on top, in what might be the best version of the game to date.

RATING: 9.5/10

Jim Alexander is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). He has been a staff writer at TheMovieBlog.com since 2014. He helped develop and host the “Correct Opinion Podcast.” Jim has written for Screenrant.com and contributed to the Australian movie site Cinemazzi.com. He is the United States Film and Entertainment Reporter for BBC’s 5 Live radio show. In addition to his interest in film, he also hosts the “Bachelor Universe” blog and podcast, centered on the ABC show The Bachelor. Jim graduated with a MA in Journalism from DePaul University. He is a die-hard Chicago Bulls and Bears fan. Born in Chicago, but raised in Poland, he grew up playing soccer and remains an avid fan of the sport. He is passionate about film and strives to incorporate new and innovative ways to present film criticism. He currently resides in a suburb outside of Chicago, IL.