By Maximillian C. Burgos
Electronic Arts’ latest installment of “Madden NFL 18” football came with some interesting innovations. The game was built on EA’s Frostbite 3.0 gaming engine, and the differences from last year’s Infinity engine are uncanny.
At first glance, the games almost look identical. The biggest changes are in the intricacies. This year, the character models are a lot more detailed and realistic. The jerseys have natural looking wrinkles in them and helmets reflect light in a life-like manner.
The goofy tackling animations are not completely gone from “Madden,” but the game does feel a lot more clean and polished than previous installments. The physics within the game feel more precise and deliberate. When a lineman uses the hit stick on a running back, he will no longer get run over like previous years. This year, the game developers counted weight and momentum into the formula for tackling and skill moves, and the difference is clear.
Aspects of offensive play have also been changed as well. Runs feel powerful and aggressive and passes feel accurate and explosive. The hit stick in the game has been amped up and the sounds of impact are really bass-heavy. Each time a user uses the hit stick, they can feel the impact in the bass of the sound — it’s almost sadistically satisfying.
The defense in the game is also different from previous years. The defensive AI is a little flawed, but that’s nothing new. The biggest difference this year is the man-to-man coverage and the defender’s ability to create turnovers. If you hang a pass up for too long, you better believe that it will be picked off.
With the new physics of the Frostbite engine, the offensive linemen get a much better push off the line this year than last year. Some running plays open up like the Red Sea did for Moses. Other plays sputter and die quickly with offensive linemen getting pushed straight into the running back or quarterback.
There are also new features that make “Madden 18” more realistic. Rather than simply running past linemen as in previous years, the user now needs to pick holes more carefully. The defense can now reach each other and grab the runner while still engaged with a blocker, the same way they can in real life. This means, if the user runs too close to a blocker, they can pay the price.
“Madden 18” also comes with an innovational but difficult passing mechanism. The user can now place passes exactly where they need to go, regardless of quarterback accuracy, with a new realtime cursor system. The system has a very steep learning curve because, during a game, decisions need to be made in a split second. However, it does still have some value. If the user masters the new mechanic, they can turn Mark Sanchez or Brock Osweiler into Peyton Manning.
Weather in “Madden 18” also has more of an impact on how the game is played. Players slip in a realistic fashion and, due to the new engine, they do not take as long to get back up. In snow or rain, the passing game is not as effective. The wind can also influence kicks and passes as well.
“Madden 18” also comes with a story mode called Longshot. It is a very cliché sports story that is influenced by the player’s decisions. It, at times, seems overreaching and cheesy but it’s up to the player to decide how he or she wants to play it. It does have heart wrenching moments, but for the most part, it plays like a discount tell-a-tale game. In the story mode, the user plays as Devin Wade, a disgraced college quarterback looking for redemption. The user’s companion in the story is Wade’s long time friend Colt Cruise, also known as the “Cruise Missile.” The story takes the player on a TV show to prove he is NFL material and the player’s decisions influence whether or not he will be drafted.
The game also has new multiplayer features that seems necessary. Now the player can play 3-on-3 games where each player controls a different skill position or group. The feature is hard to play and can be annoying if the player is not playing with others on their level of “Madden” experience.