‘Madden 19’ a fine edition to long-running video game franchise

The “Madden” series of football games holds a very contentious spot in the video game community.

On one hand, it is one of the longest-running video games series there is. A series that single-handedly can show the leaps and bounds progress games have made since the late 80s. On the other hand, the series is shunned by a large part of the audience as being “casual,” in part because of its popularity, but also because a large portion of the gaming community’s rejection of sports and all things jock. Its reputation also is marred by being one of the first games to embrace the annual release schedule that has dulled many other popular franchises since.

For me, the “Madden” series is the first sign of rain that comes and ends the summer drought of video game releases. My real enjoyment is knowing that many of the game industry’s biggest releases are on their way in the coming fall and holiday seasons. While I unabashedly enjoy the “Madden” games, my enjoyment is inconsistent at best as I often go a few years at a time without playing its yearly renditions.

When I heard that “Madden 19” would have a release on PC this year, I knew I was going to give “Madden” another try. It’s been eleven some odd years since the Madden series was last on PC and I couldn’t say no.

What’s different this year? As is expected, not a whole lot.

What is contained is mostly the same marginal improvement that are seen every year. Some new positions added, such as slot receivers, are a welcome addition. “Madden 18’s” addition of a story mode called Longshot Mode gets a sequel this year which is equal parts “The Replacements” and “The Longest Yard” in terms of its mediocrity.

Though “Madden” does make a large improvement in one area this year: player animations. Since entering the 3D space “Madden” has been struck by some awkward animations. While they have improved over the years, some of the same problems have continued to pop up again and again. Issues such as receivers suddenly stopping their upfield momentum to make a catch and then losing yards because they don’t finish the reception until the loss in momentum has carried them backwards, as well as occasionally floaty tackling have plagued the series since the PS2 era. EA Tiburon has built upon last year’s addition of EA DICE’s very capable Frostbite Engine with a very natural looking animation system. Players run more like they do in real life, as well as defenders having much sharper and varied tackling mechanics and animations.

The game looks more like real football than ever before. The Frostbite Engine allows for a graphical and animation prowess that otherwise wasn’t possible before. With these additions the game really pops off the screen on PC, as well as any other platform you choose to play on. While I wish Longshot Mode would get a reboot, as there plenty of room to tell a good football story in video game mode, this a very competent addition to the long-running franchise.