New Game Review

Review – Madden NFL 19 (Xbox One)

Fumbled.

How do you make a yearly installment worse when you should just be adding and tweaking things to make it better? Well, ask EA Sports. Madden NFL 19 more than most others in the franchise feels like a roster update with just a couple tweaks. Somehow these tweaks aren’t even all that game changing and I’m convinced is what is causing AI issues. Let’s get into this “one half step forward and two steps back” installment.

Devin Wade and Colt Cruise make a return in Madden NFL 19 with the Longshot: Homecoming story mode. It is a continuation of their story, but most of your decisions and story outcome get completely erased. In the first Longshot my Devin Wade got drafted to the San Francisco 49ers, but Homecoming completely retcons that. Apparently Wade gets cut and is now on the Dallas Cowboys and Cruise is trying to make it as a singer.

Homecoming is a much more straightforward story for Wade and Colt since they cut out all QTE and dialogue decisions. While I didn’t care for the previous games implementation of QTE’s during too many cutscenes, the removal of them makes it feel more like a movie with a couple gameplay segments in between. Yet again you don’t even play one full game. You’ll go through the fail proof flashback drives like the first and a few practice drills and drives during Wade’s NFL story. Ultimately both stories fall flat and while there are a couple good performances (especially coach Hank), the majority of it is forgettable.

Madden NFL 19
Homecoming introduces some live action segments.

Now that we covered the three hour long movie bore-fest, let’s get into the real reason why you buy Madden, actual football. Unfortunately, I can’t help but feel very underwhelmed with this installment. I typically argue against those that say Madden is just a roster update each year because there are usually multiple improvements. However, I feel myself leaning that way for Madden NFL 19. There just aren’t enough new things in this one to feel like the new purchase is worth it. Madden NFL 18 introduced Target Passing and while it went mostly unused even by experienced players, it was still something new they tried. And yes, Target Passing got cut from Madden NFL 19. The point is that they tried something new, but this installment introduces no new impactful gameplay mechanics.

The one big thing they introduced was Real Player Motion which is a nice improvement to general animations across the board, but it really doesn’t effect the game much. Cutting, accelerating, and tackling feel much better under your control, but it still doesn’t remove some janky animations. There are also other small quality of life tweaks like removing contracts from MUT and improved player leagues. There is also one other focus EA Sports had this year and it is celebrations. Yes, those game changing celebrations are definitely worth another purchase.

Ironically, there seems to be more issues with Madden NFL 19 than there are improvements and my main annoyance is the AI. I actually believe this has to do with the new Real Player Motion addition not reacting well with the AI. I have had multiple instances where AI running backs and receivers juke and run back behind the first down marker. There has been animation freezes and glitches, a glitch where I’ll hike the ball but the center will still hold onto it, offensive line letting defenders just run right by, and more.

Madden NFL 19
Prime example of the terrible AI.

On top of the overall unpolished gameplay feel, the franchise mode has been stripped back to where you can no longer upgrade individual stats. Instead you will choose between  archtypes that will then randomly distribute bonuses to the sub-types. The franchise mode has also received an overall presentation downgrade as well. No longer do you need to manage your morale, social impact, fans, money and practice. You only have the option to practice and play your weekly games. Sure those other factors were mostly not important, but it gave the franchise mode a bit of life.

All the improvements to Exhibition and MUT from ’18 remain in this installment, but has largely gone untouched regarding improvements. The contract renewal has been removed, which is a nice quality of life improvement, but that’s about it. You’ll also be able to play against the AI in the squad challenge mode, which is good for those whom don’t like to play online.

Like most installments, the one thing you can always count on with Madden is great visuals. The presentation before games and between has improved greatly making it feel like you’re watching a Sunday football game. The crowd has even gotten some graphical overhauls which just adds to the overall look. Most star players are so well rendered that I started noticing that the sweat droplets are the same on each character. While the majority of everything is visually appealing, there are some character models that are not so great, but overall, Madden NFL 19 is a visual treat.

The sound design seems to be very similar to the last installment from the various tackle and crowd sound effects. The announcers have gotten a bit better, but will still report the wrong play and repeat things on occasion. However, the biggest failure in the sound department is the soundtrack. Oh boy is it a compilation of some of the most basic and uninteresting songs.

This is the first Madden in a while where I felt it wasn’t worth the upgrade. There just isn’t enough new or upgraded in Madden NFL 19 to warrant a full game purchase. Between the various bugs, glitches, and scaled back modes along with cut mechanics from Madden 18, and only introducing Real Player Motion and celebrations, there isn’t much of a reason to buy in. I’d stick to Madden 18 for now until you can find ’19 on sale.

 

Graphics: 9.0

Madden always delivers good looking games and 19 is no different. Even the fans in the stands got a nice upgrade.

Gameplay: 7.0

Improvements to real motion are appreciated, but that’s about all that’s been upgraded for this installment.

Sound: 7.5

Various on the field sounds effects are well done and the announcing is getting better. The soundtrack is just awful however.

Fun Factor: 5.0

With barely any improvements, a scaled back modes, terrible AI, glitches, and somehow making the Homecoming story mode even worse; I’d just stick to Madden 18.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Madden 19 is available now on Xbox One, PS4, and PC.

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Our resident Californian ginger, also one of the only ones on the team who has a family (aka life). When he’s not taking care of sick kids he’s playing games with a wife who’s just as much a gamer as him or actually reviewing them for us, making him a valuable member of the team. Even if he’s pretty much stolen all our souls. His favorites include Dark Souls, Fallout 2, Majora’s Mask, and Shadow of the Colossus.

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