GameTech: Madden '18 is ahead of the game

IN American football, the attacking team has four attempts to move the ball 10 yards forwards, or the opposition gains possession.  Some teams choose to inch forward, ten yards at a time, until they reach the end zone and score. Other teams choose to explode, gaining 50 yards in one play.

The Madden American football video game series doesn’t have any real competition. 

Every year, the series tries to gain yards on its previous incarnation. Sometimes, it advances a careful ten yards, and sometimes it explodes forward.

This year’s entry is an attempt to gain 50 yards in one play, with a reworked graphics engine, new online modes, and a story mode that replicates Fifa’s ‘The Journey’. 

In covering these three bases, Madden ‘18 does enough to be considered a brave play by Electronic Arts and a worthy investment for both long-time fans and newcomers.

We can’t imagine that too many Irish players team up together for Madden online, but maybe the new Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) mode will provide more encouragement. It offers 3V3 matches, where you and two friends can choose to be either offensive captain (“Go feck yourself!!”), defensive captain (“Why are you looking at me like that?!?”), or head coach (“I’m a bainisteoir, not a coach!”). 

As the offensive captain, you can bring in your attacking players to the team, while the defensive captain does the same with his defenders. The head coach manages the clock and selects the stadium and jerseys. It’s a new option for friends to try online, which is always welcome.

The Frostbite engine has improved graphics, with player jerseys and faces noticeably more detailed than last year’s edition. EA are selling an increase in stadium detail and a new tunnel view, but these aren’t anything special.

The biggest addition of all is Longshot, the new story mode. In it, you play the role of a ‘forgotten prospect’, Devin Wade, a high-school quarterback who hasn’t played in three years. Now, Wade is making one more attempt at ‘hearing his name called out on draft day’.

Longshot is a four-hour, interactive story, in which you make decisions based on quick-time events and play selective elements of football matches to progress the story.

It isn’t as comprehensive as long-time series fans might want, but it’s a really entertaining addition, all the same. Wade, played by JR Lemon, embarks on a clichéd, but surprisingly well-told, story of redemption, ably side-kicked by his friend, Scott Cruise.

EA also made the excellent decision to hire Oscar winner, Mahershala Ali, to play Wade’s father — anything with Ali in it is automatically worth watching.

Longshot may be what they call the story mode, but Madden ’18 is far from being an outsider. The series has been dominant for almost 30 years now, with some years better than others for improvements. This year, they’ve gone for broke — and gained some real ground, as a result.

Retro gaming is the way forward

Sometimes, to move forwards, we need to look backwards. That sounds a bit like something Mr Miyagi, from the Karate Kid, would say — and he would be right. If you like that ‘80s reference, then Ireland’s ‘only dedicated retro-gaming conference’ is likely to be your kind of event.

It takes place at Griffith College, Dublin, on October 21-22, and gives gamers a chance to cosplay, bid in auctions for old games, and even play in Street Fighter and Donkey Kong tournaments.

The organisers claim that “you will be able to find everything, from your favourite game as a child to a unique piece of memorabilia from a memory long-forgotten.” 

In addition to games and cosplaying, there will also be a series of panels, like a collector’s panel, crossover panel (how games and movies have interacted), a debate panel, developers’ panel, artist panel, music panel, a podcast panel, and a history-of-gaming session.

The retro conference is called ‘8-Bit’ and the organisers are very clear about why the event was created. Their motto is ‘for retro-gamers, by retro-gamers’. 

Sometimes, it’s worth taking a few steps backwards.


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