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Madden NFL 24 Review: Predictably Polished

EDITORS' RATING : 7 / 10
Pros
  • FieldSENSE system, Hit Everything 2.0, and Skill-Based Passing 2.0 offer a layered, more controlled gameplay experience
  • Superstar allows players to deeply immerse in a dynamic NFL journey using a custom character across various modes
  • Overall smoother animations, refined CPU behaviors, and crisper visuals
Cons
  • Despite the polish, the game feels more like a slight upgrade from the previous version rather than a groundbreaking evolution
  • While new passing mechanics are introduced, veterans may find them inconsistent

A PS5 review code for "Madden 24" was provided to Zaaz for this review. The game is available now on PS5, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

As you tighten your grip on the controller, you find yourself at the 30-yard line during the AFC Championship, the clock ticking down to mere seconds. Your heartbeat synchronizes with the thud of cleats against turf, amplified by the roaring crowd. All eyes are on you; the game hinges on this one pivotal kick. Adrenaline courses through your veins, echoing the suspense of the moment. But then, a familiar sensation sets in ... Haven't you been here before? That roaring crowd, the weight of the moment, the shining lights of the stadium — it all feels like déjà vu.

It's "Madden," alright. The same exhilarating, heart-pounding action, but with a glossy, fresh layer of paint. As reliable as ever, but with just enough newness, rookies, and updated rosters to keep you coming back for more.

The "Madden" series has been an anchor for football enthusiasts for decades, each year sparking interest in how EA Sports might redefine the gridiron experience. "Madden 24" comes forward with a promise of finesse and polish, touting stellar graphics and a realistic experience of the professional game. And it delivers on that promise ... unsurprisingly, without taking anything to the next level.

Bringing in the new

That's not to say the game doesn't offer an updated experience for the 2023-2024 NFL season.

The new FieldSENSE system offers an enhanced tapestry of physics-informed animations with the much-anticipated Hit Everything 2.0 and Skill-Based Passing 2.0. Speaking to the updated passing mechanics, specifically, you can think of it like the Modern, Classic, and AI control schemes of "Street Fighter 6." Classic controls still remain intact, but two other control scheme options allow you to have a real-time gauge while passing. Similar to the gauge in the kicking game, the closer your release within the green of the gauge, the more accurate of a pass you're going to have. It feels like an especially helpful system for newer players to get better at passing accurately, but long-time "Madden" veterans may find that the timing can be a bit inconsistent, ultimately leading them to revert back to classic controls.

More polish

You can expect tighter, more realistic encounters, especially in those clutch moments of catching and tackling. With over 1,700 tackle animations, you'll feel the variation and diversity in interactions, influenced deeply by player attributes. Although the upgrade from previous versions is palpable, especially in the fluidity of blockers' interactions, for the seasoned "Madden" player, these might seem more like careful refinements rather than transformative changes.

At the heart of "Madden's" pledge to realism, Foundational Football 2.0 has taken significant strides. The overhauled AI ensures in-game quarterbacks mirror the decision-making patterns of their real-world counterparts — with CPU-controlled Justin Herbert playing as immaculately as he does in real life. While these adjustments provide a more layered gaming experience, the differences are still pretty subtle. It's a treat for the detail-oriented player, but might not drastically alter the overall gameplay feel for the casual gamer.

With SAPIEN Technology, "Madden 24" attempts a visual revamp. The introduction of a new performance skeleton targets a sharper portrayal of player realism. While movements are undeniably crisper and body types display a broader range of physiques, it might feel like a brighter, cleaner iteration of the previous year's visuals rather than a groundbreaking departure. That said, the pro wrestling powerbomb-like tackles are wildly satisfying, especially when you're on the giving end.

You're (finally) the star of the show

Superstar is where "Madden 24" truly shines. The reimagined Superstar mode is a meld of the best aspects of Face of the Franchise and The Yard. Players can immerse themselves in a dynamic NFL journey with their custom character, participating in both 3v3 and 6v6 matches in Superstar Showdown.

The cherry on top? The ability to field your custom character in various modes, including those nail-biting online head-to-head matchups. This focus on individual player journeys sets this mode apart, making it arguably the most innovative feature of this edition.

Franchise mode also returns with a combination of novel and honed features. The reintroduction of the training camp, punctuated with mini-games, offers a fresh approach to season preparations. Meanwhile, Commissioner Tools and Settings allow for a deeper dive into league customization. While these features cater to those who love micromanaging every aspect of their franchise, newcomers might find the terrain a tad overwhelming. It's deeper and richer than before, but perhaps not the quantum leap some might have anticipated for (*checks watch*) years.

MUT fans are in for a mixed bag. While the mode boasts added content and seasons, the introduction of the Live Event Hub and Catalog is a boon for navigation. The Competitive Pass teases exclusive content, and the crossplay feature bridges the multiplayer divide across platforms. These additions are definite wins, yet the overall feeling remains reminiscent of previous releases. Rewarding? Certainly. But revolutionary? Not so much.

Another year, another Madden

While naysayers will undoubtedly do so, it's tough to deny that "Madden 24" is a fine refinement of the series. The visuals, physics-based animations, and AI all feel polished and current, albeit with some familiarities to past versions. Ultimately, this version might fail to strike a chord for those who felt underwhelmed by last year's edition — but then again, what are you really expecting from an annually-released sports title?

That said, "Madden 24" is an excellent representation of the NFL experience and a worthy addition to the franchise. "Madden 24" presents itself as a more refined successor to the previous year's edition. It's rich in detail, smoother around the edges, and loaded with subtle improvements. Superstar mode stands as its crowning achievement, offering players a fresh take on the "Madden" experience. However, when measured against the last hallmark edition of the series in "Madden 20," it falls short of breathing new life into the series. It's an enjoyable, polished ride that will please newcomers and veterans alike, but it doesn't necessarily deliver a transformative experience.

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