Sports titles are known for their yearly releases, and sadly, most of them don’t include a complete overhaul or significant improvements due to the relatively short development period between each release. However, Madden NFL 18 is far from just another yearly release. Madden NFL 18 is developed by EA Tiburon and published by EA Sports. This is the first title since Madden NFL 2005 to not release for PS3 and Xbox 360.
Given only a year between each release, major changes and improvements aren’t expected to happen with every iteration as they need more time, but Madden NFL 18 is indeed a step-up from its predecessor. The Madden series was previously developed using the IGNITE engine, and Madden NFL 18 marks the first title in the series to be developed using the Frostbite engine. The switch in engines is noticeable from the get-go, both graphically and physically. Physical contact between players feels much more realistic, and the amazing graphics definitely help as well.
Madden NFL 18 also features a really enjoyable story mode, but not without its flaws. The story mode is where the Frostbite engine flourishes, as it allowed EA Tiburon to develop a true cinematic and compelling story with top-notch graphics. Every character looks more realistic than the other, and the one that sold me was Dan Marino. The former NFL player and Dolphins legend’s virtual representation carries an uncanny resemblance to his real-life self, adding a sense of realism and awe to the story mode.
The story mode, titled The Longshot, is a five to six hour long mode where players get to play as Devin Wade, a former college football star who stopped playing after his father’s tragic death. The story follows Wade after he joins a reality TV show, called The Longshot unsurprisingly, that pits four NFL-wannabes against each other for the chance to be coached by top coaches and in the best facilities. The story was really compelling and featured numerous enjoyable moments but not without its flaws. I was relatively disappointed by the minimal amount of actual gameplay in the story mode as well as the questions featured in the beginning of the campaign. To be honest, I am familiar with American football’s rules, a number of legends and even a handful of formations and tactics but I am sure some of the questions asked won’t be easy for newcomers or those who don’t watch football regularly. Fortunately, as the story moves along, I noticed they didn’t have a major impact on the story if you get the majority wrong.
EA Sports’ trademark multiplayer mode, Ultimate Team, got its own share of new features. Players can now combine two Ultimate Team squads, allowing for some really diverse and strong line-ups. Another new feature is the ability to play a three-on-three football game in MUT Squads, with each player handling a position in the team; Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Defensive Coordinator. Even though I recommend trying this mode out with your friends as you will definitely have more fun that way, but I found it very enjoyable even with strangers if each one know what they are doing. Experimenting with different formations and tactics, making big plays and throwing a 35-yard ball to a touchdown is what this game is all about.
For those hesitant towards getting Madden NFL 18, don’t be. This year’s iteration isn’t just another yearly release in a sports franchise, it’s a completely new and improved experience thanks to the Frostbite engine. The Longshot story mode is enjoyable, once you get past the technical football questions, with memorable characters and legend cameos. Madden NFL 18 releases on August 25th for PS4 and Xbox One.