Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • Xbox One
  • PC

Platform/Hardware Used:

  • PSN Download
  • PS4 Pro
  • HDTV

Extras:

  • DualShock 4 Required (1)
  • Move None
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Title: Madden NFL 19
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PSN (48.24 GB)
Release Date: August 10, 2018
Publisher: EA Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Original MSRP: $59.99 (US), £59.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 3
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Audio Review:
The audio review for this product is available on Episode 590 of the podcast at 45:25.
Episode 590 - There's a Bird in my Chimney!

Gameplay:
It’s finally happened. Seven years after the demolition of the Spectrum was completed in South Philadelphia, it’s finally gone from the Madden series. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, I ask “Now what am I going to complain about?”

Let’s start off with the conclusion of the Longshot Series, “Homecoming” – which is essentially the Madden story mode. It picks up a year after the conclusion of the last one with both Devin and Colt having been cut from their respective teams.

Colt has moved back home and Devin has received a tryout from the Dallas Cowboys. I have to say, I’m not really thrilled with the story and character choices in this year’s finale. Devin has a full year in the NFL under his belt at this point but when he steps into the huddle he still has no idea how to call a play or what anything means.

I don’t get this at all. I mean, I can maybe get why it was done story-wise, but it strains credulity that he’d be so completely lost after everything he went through the previous year including his time with an NFL team.

Meanwhile, Colt is still waiting for an NFL team to call while dealing with a clichéd absentee father story and the prospect of saving the old High School football team. Things turn around eventually for both protagonists but the journey there is pretty rough around the edges and not a whole lot of fun.

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4) Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

The biggest issue is that they’re trying to tell a story while having you play a game. Devin has to prove himself at a critical point in the story and to do so, you’ll need to drive down the field and score a touchdown. No big deal right? It is when you hit a wide open receiver right between the numbers and he drops the ball.

The calls are coming in from the sidelines so it’s down to you to simply execute the plays. If you don’t score a touchdown, which I didn’t after three failed quarterback sneaks from the one foot line, you have to try again… and again… and again until you get it right.

Honestly, I should have been able to punch it in the first time around but the defense stuffed me each time. Then I had receivers dropping balls, bad interceptions, fumbles from the wide receivers, and just about everything else that could go wrong during twelve to fifteen tries at this one single drive.

Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe it. Even more annoying is that while the scenario resets everything to the start of the First Quarter each time (this was the first drive of the game) the announcers kept the accumulated knowledge of all the failed attempts and kept commenting on how I was over 250 yards in the First Quarter or how I just threw my sixth pick of the game – on what was essentially the first play of the game.

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4) Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

It’s the attention to detail that makes a difference in storytelling like this, and Longshot just didn’t have it this year. I still think it’s worth pushing through, for better or worse, just to be able to tackle the challenges put forth after the story ends.

As for the full experience, Real Player Motion was the buzzword at E3 this year, which allows for more fluid and lifelike player animations and control. While it looked and played so much better than any previous Madden game, it was clearly being shown on a high end PC.

Running on the PS4 Pro, there’s a noticeable difference between this year and last year and it looks great, but it’s nowhere near as good as what I saw and was gushing about at E3.

Interestingly enough the infamous Madden glitches, which I rarely came across over the past few years, really came to the forefront with players standing on downed players, odd jittery animations, and several instances of my entire team standing around staring at a fumbled ball until the opposing team picked it up. It appears that some of this has been alleviated in a recent patch, but not entirely eradicated.

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4) Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

Madden Ultimate Team has seen some nice improvements that really roped me in for the first time. There’s a more focused approach on specific challenges and moving through the different scenarios as a way to unlock new player cards and build your team.

You’ll also gain plenty of coins during the challenges which can be put towards card packs. The (optional) money side of it makes things look a little ugly from a greed standpoint though. One cool addition is the ability to use training points received through cards to upgrade specific players.

You can build your team and strengthen specific positions with these options and even better, you can take back the upgrades and use them on a different player or players if you don’t like how it’s working out. This gives you a lot more flexibility in creating the exact team you want, and it’s a great addition.

The Franchise system has also been given a number of improvements including the ability to mold any team to your playstyle. When starting up you can choose the specific offensive and defensive schemes that work best for you. During training and upgrading your players each week, you can mold them to fit that style or bring players into your team that already do.

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4) Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

This is a great way to blend your favorite team with the way you want to play, rather than having to adapt to their initial tendencies. I enjoy the franchise mode a lot and this has opened up a whole new world for me, allowing me to target specific players through the Draft or free agency that will fit my schemes. And speaking of the Draft, you can now create and share custom Draft Classes for the Franchise mode at any point in the season.

There’s a lot to see here and chances are, if you’re interested in a specific mode in Madden it’s probably seen some improvements this year.

Visuals:
Even when it’s not running on a high-end PC, this is a great looking game. Real Player Motion represents a significant improvement in immersion and it makes a real difference in your ability to make plays. Rather than a player running out of bounds on a catch when they’re headed towards the sidelines, they can now stop and turn upfield much like real life.

The hits, the moves, the catches, everything sees a noticeable uptick. There are still glitches from game to game and the cameramen and other background people around the sidelines continue to be frozen in place like statues, but the overall package looks fantastic.

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4) Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

Audio:
While I was really impressed with the commentary last year, it seems to have taken a step back this time around. The observations of Chris Collinsworth are simply inane and repetitive and I ended up turning off the commentary altogether.

Unfortunately, you can’t turn it off in Longshot: Homecoming, so I was forced to listen to the same dumb talking points over and over again as I worked my way through the story.

The sounds of the game itself are quite good, with every hit, tackle, kick, and crunch bringing the game to life. The referees, unfortunately, still sound like they were recorded in a small room fifteen years ago and the audio just doesn’t fit with the rest of the experience at all.

Online/Multiplayer:
Along with the standard one on one online play, which has been solid as a rock in my experience, a nice addition has been made to another mode. Madden Ultimate Team now gives you the ability to put together three-player teams to battle the AI. The rewards are greater across each of the challenges presented, essentially putting a big juicy carrot out there for fans of that mode.

Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4) Review: Madden NFL 19 (PS4)

Conclusion:
The changes in Madden this year feel a bit more robust. It helps that this year they’re more obvious and easily seen than “AI improvements”.

Madden Ultimate Team is more welcoming to newcomers and other people who just want to dabble in the mode rather than fully commit. And while the conclusion of the Longshot storyline is a bit of a disappointment, the payoff with what comes after the end credits is worth it.

While it’s far from perfect, Madden NFL 19 is still a great football game and this year’s version has several significant upgrades that make it a worthwhile purchase.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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