Madden NFL 17 - PlayStation 4

Release Date:

August 23, 2016
8.4

Summary:

EA's Madden NFL 17 provides a new focus on the ground game, zone defense and special teams. The running game offers special moves and a carrier path assist. A new defensive gap system makes defending the run more realistic, with updated AI letting players use a multitude of techniques. The passing game has been updated, new play modes were added and the ball physics was upgraded. The game can be played by one to four players, in a network or online useing wireless controler like "Dualshock 4" or remote play. 24 GB save size is required.


Details

Technical Information

  • DualShock Compatible:
    • DualShock 4
  • Supported Video Output:
    • 1080p
  • Game Format:
    • Blu-ray Disc
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Posted:
2016-12-16

Jamie_Hall

Writer

PS4

8.4

Madden NFL 17 Takes a Step Forward

In the past 28 years we've seen a variety of football games hit the market. Most of them have been of the simulation variety, some of them as great offshoots (NFL Blitz), and some of them built if only to make us ask: 'why does this exist?' (ahem NFL Street). The Madden series has stuck around the entire time however, now hitting up its 27th iteration in its storied history. Spanning systems, graphical shifts (3D from 2D), and a couple of NFL lockouts, this series has become a mainstay option for fans of America's pastime for good reason. It's long been a hallmark of quality and in recent years, due to securing an exclusive license with the NFL, it's been the only game in town. With such pedigree and background and repetition in releases, EA knows it has to find meaningful improvements to keep longtime fans around, so the question here becomes: does Madden 17 truly feel like a step forward the series? Yes, not a huge one, but one in the right direction.

To make a successful iteration of such a long-running series, EA needs to do one of the following a) improve the gameplay in meaningful way, b) improve the graphics astoundingly, c) create a new must-play mode; or all of the above. In the past few seasons, EA has found themselves on new hardware and while initially exploiting the processing power, the games have plateaued when it comes to 'wow' factor. At least Madden 17 runs at a great framerate (60) so the performance never hinders gameplay and it looks good enough where minor fidelity issues never become a focus.

Before I get into the gameplay I need to acknowledge a fondness for NFL 2K5; a game with the best running game in the history of football games. It's weight, move set, and general tackle mechanics did and still feel perfect. While the Madden series has attempted emulate this dinosaur in more ways than one, Madden 17 has somehow captured its feel which I've long thought to be impossible to find. Breaking tackles, being patient for gaps, open-field choices - these aspects of Madden's running game have never been more well-realized than they are here. This becomes an offensive focus (which is funny considering the pass happy NFL), but it actually becomes a secret weapon because of the game's other strength: it's focus on defense.

All too often football games (and sports games for that matter) become a battle of offensive attrition where scores hit the 50s before halftime. Madden 17, despite the improved running system, rewards players that call plays accordingly and scheme effectively. It also affords the players much better defensive AI in both their linebackers and secondary. Corners can be set to certain types of coverage, and linebackers more often than not show patience to choose the right gap and behave like professionals. It's refreshing to feel like you don't need to swap to the nearest player in fear that your teammates will just run by a ball carrier due to AI snafu. Finding a 17-14 victory in an online game was a strange but very real treat in this more defensive game.

In terms of modes, all of the standards are here including the meat and potatoes that is the Franchise mode. It's as robust as ever and with the new 'play the moments' addition, players can zip through games with satisfaction and still indulge in the more back office elements if they so chose. A particular highlight is the improved scouting and drafting system which gives players worthwhile feedback on their own draft process and tendencies. As a lifelong football fan, the joy of not having to be an armchair draft analyst while receiving meaningful feedback is a surprising joy. When you see one your 'hidden gem' draft picks grow into a great player over a couple seasons - even better. On the whole, the franchise mode doesn't reinvent the wheel but it adds some proper tweaks to make it more approachable and easily digested. The aforementioned 'play the moments' feature really helps players who are interested in getting 3-4 seasons in without it feeling like they just invested way too much of their free time.

One other particular note that's important to mention is that the commentary team has changed this year, bringing in NFL vets Charles Gaudin and Charles Davis. Unfortunately, these guys struggle with chemistry and particularly in helping it feel more 'conversational'. This reviewer was really let down by this pairing and it even caused me to drown them out with my own music after awhile.

Overall, Madden 2017 hits enough notes to feel like a worthy iteration. While it doesn't stand out greatly over the past few iterations, it makes enough tweaks to be deemed the best of this generation (thus far). I suspect the game to improve even more over the next couple years but if you haven't played it in a few years, now's a great time to jump in.

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EA Sports

Release Date:

August 23, 2016

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