Madden 19 Review: Same Ol’ Dance or Something New?

I blew through quite a bit of Madden 19 in the past week, and I’ve got some thoughts. No cute preview here, no setup to a creative intro for this game, just a straight dive into Madden 19 and my thoughts.

You’ll understand why I’m being so blunt with my introduction as this progresses. Let’s go.

I’d like to describe my first drive in Madden 19. A Chicagoland native, I chose the Bears and was forced to punt in 4 downs. After the first down, my quarterback left with a head injury. After the second down, my starting running back was also injured. Third down, I was nearly picked off for an interception. I was furious, but then I took a moment to think.

On my first down, as I attempted to throw to my wide out, I stepped forward into a defensive end’s charge, so let’s face it: any quarterback would be shaken up after that in real life. My fault, Madden, my fault. Second down, my running back juked into a linebacker who had my name from the start of the play. My fault again. Third down, I threw directly to a cornerback, missing my mark completely. The only thing that went well was a clean punt.

Looking back on it now, I was playing the game as if it was an arcade experience, which is available in Madden 19, accompanied with higher scores, more electrifying hits, and none of the strategy needed for my chosen gameplay setting, Simulation. I wasn’t thinking, mostly out of eagerness to finally play the new Madden, a series I’ve loved since the days of PlayStation One. As I’ve spent more and more time with Madden 19 I’ve come to find it to be the most realistic depiction of professional football that I’ve ever played. Between the knowledge needed to traverse the All-Pro difficulty, and the game’s willingness to make you pay for your mistakes, Madden 19 games develop like real NFL matches.

Madden Ultimate Team

I don’t play MUT much, but I did check out a bit of the new additions to the game mode for the sake of this review. The card-collecting NFL experience this year is full of depth. I was intrigued at the addition of solo tournaments, meant for players like me that play a lot of their Madden single player. Each tournament will be built by Madden devs, players, league veterans, or even celebrities. It’s a nice touch to a game mode that at times feels so stressful and serious. Grinding for better cards becomes addictive, and I don’t have the kind of time it takes to earn a legitimately impressive squad in MUT, but I had a ton of fun playing solo tournaments and found them to be a great way for players who never touch MUT to get in this mode of the game.

Longshot Misses – Hard

Madden 19 was a step forward thanks to the Frostbite engine, but it also introduced a story mode. Longshot took us on a journey into two young men attempting to make it in the NFL and was a nice surprise given how skeptical everyone was about a narrative-based element to Madden. I’m sad to announce that the follow up in Madden 19 is far from engaging, and in fact, a complete waste of time.

The characters in Longshot are likable, and Devin and Colt felt like real people in last year’s debut. This year, the script feels thrown together, with no semblance of the characters I learned to love despite slower moments in the original narrative. This year, its worse in terms of pacing out the story and balancing it with actual gameplay. To be honest, a short 4 hours with the game mode left me wishing I had done literally anything else.

Last Thoughts

Something I appreciate about Madden 19 is its ability to keep my interest. In real life, I’m a casual NFL fan at best nowadays, leaning much more into baseball and basketball. However, Madden 19 feels as if it could spark my interest in the game yet again. The game plays realistically, and I could only hope other sports simulation titles would listen to their fanbase like EA Sports has done with the Madden community. With all the hype around NBA 2K and their e-league, Madden has just as much potential in the competitive gaming world, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it took a jump this year with Madden 19. 

The thing I’ve always loved about Madden 19 is despite being the same sport over and over every time, the unpredictability of the NFL seeps through gameplay. I’m a self-proclaimed NBA 2K fanatic, but I will say that each game in that series is much more likely to play out like every other match. With new changes to gameplay, including an increased onus on the player to actually think in some of the more serious game modes, I have a feeling we’ll be tuning into the Super Bowl next February before I feel worn out on Madden 19. 

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Madden 19

$59.99 (Xbox) / $79.99 (PS4)
8.6

Score

8.6/10

Pros

  • Gameplay is a huge step up
  • True depiction of NFL chaos
  • Frostbite looks great on the field

Cons

  • Longshot story falls apart
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Taylor Bauer

Taylor is from Aurora, IL and received both his B.S. and M.S. in Communication from Illinois State University, where he taught radio production and media management for two years. Taylor studies critical media theory, loves all things Nintendo and Xbox, and is an avid listener of NPR. He is also a self-proclaimed music nerd, and loves all genres.

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