As is now tradition, EA Sports heralds their new season of titles with the latest iteration of their Madden NFL franchise.
As a Brit with barely an understanding of rugby, American football (as opposed to “proper” football), used to be an incomprehensible muddle of huge men hugging and pushing each other over. A bizarre game, indeed.
Over that last five or so years of playing EA’s Madden NFL games I’ve developed a respect for a game that is remarkably intelligent and strategic. I’d even goes as far as to say that it makes soccer look a bit idiotic- not that I don’t mind a drop of FIFA.
This year, for the first time in over a decade, Madden NFL 19 is also available on PC. Origin Premier members will find a copy waiting for them to download in the Vault.
I tested both the Xbox One X version of the game and the free PC copy delivered to by Origin Premier account.
On one hand, the Xbox One X version of the game looks great in 4K on the TV, on the other hand, Madden NFL 19 spread across a triple-monitor setup at 5880×1080 looks pretty sweet as well. It’s worth pointing out that, even with a 2xGTX1080ti SLI set-up Madden 19 did not play well using Direct X 12. The stuttering went away and the game played great once I switch it over to DX11.
With EA’s decision to include a narrative campaign mode, I’m thankfully spared just going on about graphics, stats and gameplay changes. Longshot: Homecoming continues the NFL story of Devin Wade and Colt Cruise. I found the campaign a bit heavy going last year with lots of talk and minimal gameplay. This time they seem to have got the balance a bit better.
Visually, Madden NFL 19 is superb. As I mentioned already, on a 4K screen the Xbox One version is astounding. The game, once again, uses DICE’s Frostbite 3 game engine. This means that the visuals aren’t quite the leap from 18 as the leap from Madden 17’s Ignite to Frostbite, last year.
Another year playing about with Frostbite has allowed the developers time to tighten up the game animations. The action on the field looks a lot more lifelike. Whilst I did notice a couple of players clipping a bit, generally the clashes all behave just as you’d expect them to.
Fans of Madden can switch off for a bit, here. It’s worth bearing in mind just how complex American Football is. I’ve been playing Madden for a few years now and probably know as much about the game as the average Yank., but I’ve still got a lot to learn. With every new Madden release I head straight to the training mode to get back into the mindset of playing the game.
In saying that, for a sport that is so complex, Madden NFL 19 is very accessible. There’s the training drills that I mentioned, but at every step of the way the game helps you get to grips with the sometimes esoteric rules of Gridiron. If you want to ease yourself into Madden even more, you can opt to play in arcade mode as opposed to the headier simulation mode.
As with all EA Sports titles, Madden NFL 19 comes with loads of game modes. Not only do you get an incredibly deep football game, you also get many different ways to play it.
The most engrossing, in my opinion, is Madden Ultimate Team, the collectable-card hybrid mode that is available across all the EA Sports games. You can build your own team and compete solo or online.
Franchise mode allows you to take your favourite NFL franchise and lead them to glory. For a quick game, Exhibition mode allows you to play against the CPU, one-on-one online, practice your skills or use the skills trainer. And, of course, for a bit of drama with your football, The Journey: Homecoming offers a full-on story campaign.
Madden NFL 19 isn’t the improvement over its predecessor that 18 was, but the slightly scrubbed up visuals and brand-new, smoother-flowing campaign story make this year’s iteration worth picking up. Easy to get into, but deep and difficult to master, Madden NFL 19 offers fans and newcomers alike a lot of excitement and bang for its buck.