Reviewing sports games isn’t always the easiest thing, because generally, the changes aren’t noticeable to non-hardcore players unless they were to skip a year or two. Unfortunately, that holds true for all players in Madden NFL 19, although a bit of fine-tuning may have been all the game needed this time around.

Even though there aren’t any drastic changes, Madden NFL 19 sees a nice bump in the graphical department, and the new additions are welcome and bring unmatched depth to the Ultimate Team mode. The biggest change to the game is the introduction of “Real Player Motion”, which adds a new level of realism to how players control. It is noticeable immediately, and does take some getting used to. Ultimate Team sees the arrival of Solo Battles, as well as the introduction of upgradeable player cards, both of which change the mode for the better. Franchise has simplified itself by streamlining player upgrades, added schemes to help casual and average players maneuver through trades/drafting, and finally brought draft classes in. The story mode “Longshot” also makes a return, but doesn’t impress this time around.

Positives

+ Gameplay wise, Madden feels the best it ever has. “Real Player Motion” is the real deal, and for the first time in years, you truly feel in control when on the field.

+ Ultimate Team saw the most changes, and is more fun because of it. I found myself lost in the Solo Challenges and Battles. Challenges require completing certain tasks and overcoming tough game scenarios. They’re satisfying to complete, and offer excellent coin, pack, player, and collectible rewards to help build your team. Solo Battles are great for those that prefer playing against the CPU instead of online. You’ll match up against AI lineups of varying difficulty. Depending on where you fall on the leaderboard, you’ll be rewarded for it with items to continue improving your team.

+ Upgradable cards are also here for the first time, and make the entire Ultimate Team experience feel less “pay to win” or frustrating. These cards will start with a low rating, and you apply training cards to upgrade them as you beat challenges and complete objectives. It allows you to use your favorite players before ever having the coins to purchase their best cards from the auction house. A great addition where everybody wins.

+ The tutorials are insane, and literally teach you the intricacies of football. They may even help you understand coverages and formations when watching the real thing. It makes the experience far more immersive from both a playing and viewing perspective.

Negatives

Online play is still a mixed bag, where a majority of players don’t play by standard rules. You’ll see a lot of hail marys, constant attempts at 4th down conversions, fake punts… you name it. Interceptions still happen way too frequently, and fumbles seem completely random.

Longshot returns as a direct sequel to last year’s version, and while it doesn’t fall completely flat, it fails to find its footing. It doesn’t offer as unique of an experience, and almost feels like it’s been turned into a story-based tutorial during a majority of sequences. The story is still well written, but it suffers from a lack of originality.

Conclusion

Madden NFL 19 is the best entry in the series by a… well, longshot. It may not have been about breaking the mold this year, but the fine-tuning and overall polish is noticeable and felt. Ultimate Team steals the show, and the upgrades to Franchise aren’t far behind. There is something for every type of playstyle, with negatives being few and far between. Hopefully next year they’ll take the story mode a bit more seriously, considering there’s a lot of potential there. Online play is still fun, even if frustrating. If you’re a fan of football, this is finally the year to buy Madden on current consoles.

Score – 8/10

 

*(Full disclosure: Draft classes aren’t something that I will ever really dabble with. This feature is probably very exciting for hardcore fans, but isn’t for me.)

*Reviewer spent more than 30 hours between the various modes and unlocked most of the achievements.

Achievements/Trophies - There's 38 in total (+1 for platinum on PS4). Longshot mode and using custom rosters in franchise will easily get you about 30 of them with little to no effort. The last couple take some time/a little bit of skill to complete. Having to win as every team is the time-consuming part. Roughly a 12-15 hour completion.
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Written by Shawn Ryan

I've been gaming for almost 30 years, with a vast array of knowledge (and Gamerscore) under my belt. I play everything, and tend to find the good even in bad games. There will never be a game better than The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

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