‘Madden 16’ not just another roster update

For years, EA Sports’ Madden franchise has been accused of being “the same exact thing” as the year before. People have looked at the game as the company just adding in the rookie players and moving veterans around to their new teams.

“Madden 16” has completely changed the game, but still kept it as the one we all know and love.

The game opens with a playable cutscene from Super Bowl 50 between the…Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals? That’s pretty much the only thing I didn’t like about this game. You don’t have to make it a rematch of last year’s game, but I would have at least had the champions being played in the opening scene or possibly the guy who is on the cover – Odell Beckham Jr. – and his team playing.

Anyway, once you decide if you want to crush the hopes of the Steel City getting a ring for their left index finger or not, you go right into a tutorial, which you are NOT going to want to skip. The one thing you notice almost immediately is the new reception dynamics.

Once a pass is thrown, you can either go up for an “Aggressive”, “Possession”, or “RAC” (run after catch) reception. You do this by simply holding down one the prompt buttons that appears above or below the receiver.

Once you have sort of mastered the receiving dynamics of the game, you jump into the brand new passing mechanism. Yeah, Madden has featured touch passes in the past, but none like this. Now you can hold down one of the auxiliary buttons (LB/RB for Xbox, L1/R1 for Playstation) to add the extra height on a lob pass or the extra zip on a bullet pass. Beware of overusing the right analog stick when going for a traditional touch pass as it has been updated tremendously to give a more realistic feel to the game.

“Madden Ultimate Team” has been one of the most popular gameplay modes over the last few games for the franchise and it returns again, but the newest and most talked about gameplay mode is “Draft Champions.” Instead of having to sit through a 45-round fantasy draft in “Franchise” mode, fans can now get a whole team already built for them.

In this mode, you have a base team that is catered to whatever coach you pick to begin. I was given the choice of Joe Philbin, Mike Pettine, and Ron Rivera. I went with the latter and began building a team centered around the defense.

Each round, you are given three options to “draft” onto your team and they are usually different position players. If your coach is a defensive minded guy, expect to see a good bit of defensive players pop up.

In this mode ALL NFL players, both past and present, are available. This gives fans the opportunity to see what Peyton Manning hooking up with Jerry Rice would have really been like.

The “Franchise” mode is easily my favorite thing besides throwing down with my friends online or locally. This year’s mode has been revamped as you are able to be the coach and lead your team to glory or you can create a rookie player out of college and try to build a Hall of Fame resume.

In both modes, the screen is much easier to navigate and has a much quicker reaction time than last year’s edition did. That right there sold the mode for me as I spent hours trying to build a terrible franchise into a dynasty, which is one of my favorite things to do on the game.

Overall, the game has a sleeker and more modern design than in years past. Basically, the game looks a lot prettier than what it used to be. I honestly haven’t thoroughly enjoyed a Madden game since the 2007 edition, until this game. It’s been a long time since I could say I loved a game slapped with the NFL’s name on it, but EA Sports did a great job of bringing fans a whole new experience.

Rating: 4.6/5

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*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports

Watch moving ’30 for 30′ on Bush’s first pitch following 9/11
Watch moving ’30 for 30′ on Bush’s first pitch following 9/11