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Madden NFL 20 makes football’s basic truth seem interesting and real13/8/2019
Madden NFL 20 makes football's basic truth seem interesting and real

buy madden coins begins with the 2019 Pro Bowl game, and it's an appropriate showcase for what's changed this year. I took control of Ezekiel Elliott on a toss play, and he dusted the linebacker with a juke move so supple, I blurted out like I was livestreaming the game: "Goddamn! That worked like hell!" Finally, I thought, Madden was putting some forgiveness in the timing of its stick moves, which lesser users like me always seem to key in too late.

Playing later, in the Ultimate Team mode divorced from the NFL's present day, I found out why. In the main game, Elliott has the First One Free superstar trait, which means that his first juke move on the right stick is a lot better at faking out a free defender. Other runners don't get this benefit. In Ultimate Team, the fantasy-sports/card-collection game that drives so much of Madden's revenue, the 72-rated Todd Gurley that everyone gets at the beginning didn't have it. He did the ineffective, quick-flick, standstill shimmy I'd come to know and hate over more than a decade of playing and reviewing Madden.

But in the bigger picture, at least this made sense. Some guys do have better moves, and they're more effective. And I'm no longer running players against their type, expecting a between-the-tackles runner like Gurley to be as lithe as Elliott. The result is a more realistic Madden.This is always the goal of a sports video game, for both developer and player: to perpetrate something that passes for the sport as broadcast on a weekend. The closer that sport's relationship to television - and American football is almost a made-for-TV sport - the harder that job is. Madden NFL 20 succeeds in that pursuit, in the way it subtly differentiates star players from game to game. When I'm looking over the postgame stats, there always seems to be a story ready to explain it. Well, the running game really was not working against Minnesota's front four. So I had to try something else, and that didn't work either. But it's understandable, and therefore acceptable, in a 16-game virtual season where, for years, I judged Madden against my ability to kick its ass every week.

The gameplay triggers that old frat-boy id telling me I want to play Madden. There's always some relearning of the sport after six months not engaging with it seriously, and for a video game, you have to adapt along with its makers to the prevalence of tactics like run-pass options. But Madden NFL 20 makes that tryout process enjoyable, even if I go back to more conventional methods later and for the long term. There's a run-pass option sweep whose surprising effectiveness reminds me of the flanker streak option in College Football USA on the Sega Genesis. The difference, 25 years later, is that the game has been giving out a hat count (of opposing defenders on the line) before the play to help you decide which choice is better.

All of this makes my created quarterback look smarter than his puppeteer (me) really is. Madden NFL 20's showpiece mode is a career/story hybrid called Face of the Franchise: QB1, notable for the return of NCAA teams to video gaming in its two-game preamble. In this story, the user is told that the coach wants to work with a simplified playbook. Whatever the player's answer, you still get the full binder of plays. But the expectation in that plot device caused me, at least, to look for plays that had the highest probability of moving the ball, rather than showcasing my assumed superhero talent. This is important because the player has no control over where they are drafted in Face of the Franchise, and so they will have to be adaptable to the priorities of the Miami Dolphins or the Denver Broncos, where I ended up.Read More

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