Madden NFL 23
For the first time in years, a sports title breaks the monotony expected in a yearly release albeit with a slight deviation. Above all else, this year's Madden 23 is a special one not just for fans of the series but fans of football as well. That's because the man who gave his likeliness to the 30+ year series, John Madden, would be this year's cover star for the first time since Madden NFL 2000. Unfortunately, the reasons behind this decision aren't as celebratory.
On December 28th, 2021, Madden passed away, leaving behind a legacy that spanned his 85 years of living. The decision to make him the featured star in this year's Madden was made official on June 1st, 2022, with three different covers representing different parts of his life. The unique "All-Madden Edition" is a recreation of the cover art for John Madden Football, the first game in the series released on PC. The next-gen cover art is an image of the time he led the Oakland Raiders to the Super Bowl victory as a head coach.
As the years go by following the introduction of the next generation of consoles, the previous generation slowly begins to lose out on features. The balance between maintaining a player base and encouraging said players to upgrade continues to shift to the latter until support is cut altogether. Exclusive to the next-gen consoles is FieldSENSE, similar to FIFA 22's 'hyper motion" technology. Personally, I feel it's just all buzzwords for an "improved physics engine" that's not easy to implement in previous generational consoles.
Continuing the tradition of EA Sports titles, players have the option to use a unique passing mechanic that involves timing and precision for perfect passes. There's also an option to keep "legacy mode" on, which is something that I wound up doing. Other options including AI difficulty and simulation settings are also set up here. Wanna know what isn't an option by default? Streamer-only mode. I will complain about the lack of an option to turn licensed music off on start-up until it becomes commonplace for sports games to do so.
After choosing your settings, Madden 23 places you in a "John Madden Legacy Game," where you play a quick game of NFC and AFC players that Madden apparently personally liked. What was cool about this introduction game is that it helped players get to know who John Madden was as a person. Many Madden players only know him as the commentator and the image of the series. Very few really got to know how deep his legacy transcended.
Rather than mention the play-by-play of the game, the majority of the commentary was based on John Madden's career. From being the head coach of the Oakland Raiders, leading them to victory in Super Bowl XI, to his future endeavors within the NFL. There are player highlights including Tom Brady, where actual voice dialogue from John Madden himself is used to describe them.
The graphics are better than ever although animations start to look chunky when multiple players collide with each other. Regardless, various plays including running plays and fake-outs are all present. During the halftime show, a small snippet of Madden's career is shown rather than a traditional half-time show itself. It's a pretty neat introduction to Madden 23 and it's obvious this was done to celebrate one man's career.
Unfortunately, the positive first impressions wane and EA reminds you that this is yet another yearly Madden. There are very few introduced outside of John Madden himself. It's also not very long until the player is bombarded with Ultimate Team packs and incentives to purchase. It's a shame really because this year EA did all it could to commemorate the man that made the company the big bucks. At the end of the day, however, Madden 23 is still "modern' Madden. For those who wish to play football without the advertisements and emphasis on spending real money, there are still the older games in the series to celebrate.
Madden 23 is available on Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S.