Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: EA Sports
Review Context: I have played every Madden NFL game since Madden NFL 2001. I play on the hardest difficulty, All-Madden, and mostly play franchise mode.
Date of Playthrough: September 2, 2016
Football season is upon us, and with each passing year comes the newest installment in the Madden NFL franchise. I know what you are thinking, “another Madden game, how can it be any different from the previous twenty something games?” I can understand that to some people this game series is worn out, but Madden NFL 17 has tried to make some big steps to add life to a recently disappointing franchise.
Madden NFL 17 is a football simulator that focuses on the 2016 NFL season. It uses current rosters from all the NFL organizations and allows you to control those players and teams in various game modes.
There are four main game modes in Madden NFL 17; franchise mode, Madden Ultimate Team (MUT), Draft Champions, and Quick Play. Franchise mode enables you to choose a team and play through the current NFL season and beyond as either a general manager, head coach, or a single player. When playing as the coach or general manger you get to play as the entire team, defense, offense, or the newest addition of only playing key moments. The key moments consist of 3rd downs, redzone opportunities, and two-minute warning drives. At any time during the game you are able to take control of the team if you wish to intervene. If you choose to play as only a single player, you have the choice of creating a rookie or using an already existing player. There is an option in franchise mode to start a season online and play it out against friends.
Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) is a game mode where you collect player cards to upgrade your team that is given to you when you begin to play MUT. With your team, you can compete against other users online or do team challenges to unlock new packs and coins that can be used to buy upgrades. The upgrades consist of contract extensions (because players can only be used a certain amount of games), better players, or different team jerseys. Each week in MUT there is a giveaway in which the game will give you a special player card. Draft Champions starts with a fifteen round draft where you choose from three different players and build a team around those fifteen. The players are usually top tier players and the mode even includes legendary players from the past. After the draft and your team is selected, you then have a series of games to play out. Quick Play is pretty self-explanatory; pick a team and play against either a CPU, local multiplayer, or online multiplayer.
Madden NFL 17 has put a heavy emphasis on creating a connection between the experience in game and the current NFL season. Besides updating the rosters weekly, which has been a staple in the series for a while now, EA is also updating in game commentary to coincide with what is going on in the NFL. The announcers will make references to events that are happening currently in the NFL. This is a nice addition to keep the game true to its source.
The soundtrack to Madden NFL 17 consists of 40 songs, mostly rap, country, and a little bit of rock. Personally, I am not a fan of most of the songs in the game, but there is a fast and easy option to be able to go to the set list to choose which songs will play.
Madden NFL 17 has made some nice changes to the kicking mechanics. It is now a three button press for all kicks; punts, field goals, and kickoffs. To start the kick meter, you press X and when it reaches the power you want, press X again, and finally for the accuracy press X a final time when the meter reaches the middle of the dark blue colored bar. It is much simpler than the joystick kicking. This isn’t the major change though. The newest mechanic, which I find extremely useful, is the ability to change what kind of kick you do on punts and kickoffs. As you line up for a punt, you are given a few choices; a sky punt, which will launch the ball high in the air for extra hang time, a regular punt, or a backspin punt, which will cause the ball to bounce backwards when it lands. Depending on the situation, each one can be used to give your opponent the worst field position possible. The backspin kick is especially good when trying to pin the opponent at the goal line. For kickoffs the choices are similar, except the backspin kick is replaced with a squib kick, which sends the ball bouncing off the ground and out of the hands of the best kick returners. Overall, the changes made to special teams have made a boring part of the game have a little more impact and quite enjoyable to try and execute a perfect kick.
The kicking mechanics aren’t the only changes made to the special teams in Madden NFL 17. The defensive team also received some changes to allow for more blocks to occur on field goals and punts. When lined up, certain players will have a large red B over their head. The B indicates these players have a higher chance of getting through the line to block the kick. As soon the ball is snapped, the user, while controlling one of these B players, must press R2 to get the fastest jump off the line of scrimmage. Sometimes these players will bust through the line if timed perfectly and give you a chance to dive towards the kicker and block it. One must be careful though to not hit the kicker or else they will get the 15-yard penalty. I have found that this mechanic is enjoyable, but very easy in lower difficulties, and near impossible on the All-Madden difficulty. It’s a neat mechanic, I just wish it was balanced a little more.
Madden NFL 17 has added two new features that help the user with aspects of the game that can be hard to grasp, especially for beginners. The first is an auto-flip setting that will change the defense’s alignment to allow for the best possible matchups. If opponents line up in an unbalanced lineup, the computer will flip the defensive play to compensate without the user having to audible. The second feature is an addition of a runner’s box that will show the user which side of the offensive line is best to run against, based off of the defensive alignment. As stated, these features can be very helpful for new players, but for someone who has been playing for a while they seem unnecessary.
The last major mechanical change in Madden NFL 17 is to the rushing mechanics. When running with the ball, the play has four different variations of jukes, spins, trucks, and hurdles to avoid tackles. These consist of Precision moves (hold L2), Speed moves (hold R2), Base moves (hold neither), and Steerable moves (hold R2 and L2). Precision moves take more time to use, but allow the player to avoid many would be tacklers at once. This comes with a higher chance of fumbling and injury though. Speed moves are the exact opposite of Precision moves in that they are less effective against groups of defenders, but also have the lowest chance for fumbles and injury. Base moves are the standard jukes and spins that have been a staple in every rusher’s arsenal. The Steerable moves give the user more control over the player’s subtle movements and are used in tandem with the left joystick, but it only works with certain evasive maneuvers (truck, spin, juke, and back juke). Using these techniques effectively is hard to master and using them incorrectly can put your team in a bad situation. Being able to execute these moves also depends on the player you are using and their stats.
With a lot of nice changes, Madden NFL 17 still has many drawbacks that can make the experience less enjoyable. A big one is the random block in the back penalty that always seems to show up on big plays. Many times I’ve had plays where I gained huge chunks of yardage, only for it to be reversed because of a block in the back that occurred on the opposite side of the field. It wouldn’t be so bad if the block was the reason I got the yards I did, but it always seems to happen away from the play. Another annoyance is the constant shoulder dislocation injury. It appears too often, basically one a game, and in a franchise mode can completely deplete your team of good players. These are both problems that will hopefully be fixed in the future, but as of right now it’s just something you’re going to have to deal with. The worst part of Madden NFL 17 is the annoyingly long load times. Starting up the game seems to take forever, and there is even a load screen before another load screen just to get to the main menu.
Overall, Madden NFL 17 is a nice upgrade, especially when compared to recent Madden NFL titles. Graphically it looks fantastic, and EA has done a great job in creating the most realistic football simulator to date. The game still isn’t perfect, but I feel Madden NFL 17 is the best in the franchise since Madden NFL 11.
Similar Games Liked:
Madden NFL 2002 (PS2)
Madden NFL 11 (PS3)
Similar Games Disliked:
Madden NFL 12 (PS3) – Madden NFL 16 (PS4)