As the NFL season draws closer and we’ve had significant time to play the latest installment in the Madden series, it’s time to take an in-depth look at Madden 19. In this review, I use my own grading system called VGPA, which stands for Video Gaming Point Average. I base the grading system similar to school-style. For example, we know that a 4.0 is the best GPA to receive. Likewise, this will be the same for VGPA. We will go in-depth with each game mode and talk about the pros and cons, then give each game mode a score ranging from 0-4. The scores are gathered by the following: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, and F=0. For example, MUT might get a 4, while Franchise mode might get a 2. Therefore, we would then calculate the mean average of all the numbers to get a 3.0. Presentation Coming in for their 3rd season in the booth, Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis provide exquisite commentary that makes you feel like you’re in a live game with in-depth analysis of what’s going on not just in your game, but around the league. Madden hit the jackpot this year with the commentary, and it’s the best compared to other sports video games on the market today. The conversations they have are fluid and raw, which seems hard for other games to do. One other commentary element EA Sports has done well is having updated commentary for exhibition games each week during the regular season and playoffs. When you’re playing exhibition games, you’ll hear Gaudin and Davis talk about player performances from the week prior. This is an excellent feature that is above and beyond any other sports game. Also, the pregame presentation has been revamped. We are provided with stadium exteriors and interiors prior to kickoff, which gives us more of a sense for realism that stands out. I would, however, have liked to see different exteriors and interiors due to the simple fact that seeing the same presentation features gets old after playing numerous games. One of the newest features for presentation is the halftime show. Now, you’ll get a 3D rendered map that the commentators will take you across giving updates in real-time and during franchise games. Also, new replay cameras and highlights are added to this year’s rendition of Madden. One aspect I would like to see implemented in future Madden games would be to bring back The Extra Point show that appears every week in Franchise mode. This would add an exciting element back to the game for true sim fans who love presentation, gameplay, and the stories of that develop within franchise mode. Watching The Extra Point was a realistic experience that stood out beyond any other sports game. Granted this was included in Madden 11, but it could bring some excitement for the Madden community if EA Sports were to bring it back. All in all, the presentation is still great, but there are improvements that can be made. I’m glad EA Sports incorporated 3D graphics, new exteriors along with interiors, and have tremendous commentary, however, they need something that stands out grabs our attention as a Madden community when it comes to bringing our franchises to life. I will give this section a grade of “B” grade, or 3 points. Madden Ultimate Team (MUT) It’s no secret that MUT is the bread and butter of the Madden series and likely will be for years to come. Year-after-year, we are seeing the evolution of MUT in the Madden community. Finally, there are no more contracts! This has been an area of Madden that has driven me crazy the past couple of years, and I’m glad EA Sports got rid of them. Now, there are training points that you earn periodically through solo challenges, MUT squads, and so on. You can apply training points to upgrade-able players. A common upgrade-able item people receive is the base Ricky Williams card. Also, you can add certain players and items to sets for training points. MUT is more immersive than ever, and I highly recommend this game mode. I can binge play MUT for hours, and now I can play with friends, which makes it even better. It’s safe to say that this game mode receives an “A,” and 4 points. Connected Franchise Mode (CFM) Once again, Connected Franchise Mode supports offline and online play, which is essential for simulation players in the Madden community. 32 users can be in a league (Xbox One, PS4, and PC) with a commissioner setting the rules and advancing the league each week. If you’re looking for a simulation experience, then this is the perfect mode for you. New menus are nice to see when coming back to a game year after year, and now you can see your player or coach, as well as an adaptive schedule near the top of the home screen. This is a nice addition, rather than just seeing bland menus. Most notably, perhaps, is that players can now edit draft classes, import from local files, and download community draft classes, which adds to the captivating experience of realism. This was a top requested feature from the Madden community, and is a huge bonus to this year’s game. Continuing on with draft-related changes in this year’s Madden is a new NFL Draft overlay. While selecting your picks or waiting for your picks, you’ll see the stage of the draft taking place along with a graphic popping up on the screen, which is a nice addition. It’s not a crazy update on the draft system, and could even be something slotted under presentation changes, but this just gives the draft more life. There’s still a lack of team relocation options available, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me, personally. I would like Madden to give us the capability of being able to create stadiums and edit fields from scratch like we used to on the PS2, Xbox, and GameCube. This could bring in even more players to Madden’s franchise mode and people could do things like export and import graphics, especially now that the game is available on PC. A great example of this utilization could be an EA Sports teambuilder for the Madden series like they used to do for their NCAA Football series. Overall, CFM is in full-stride and there is room for improvement, but nevertheless, it gives us more creativity to make the experience more enjoyable than last years Madden. I will give this mode a grade of “A” as well, 4 points. Gameplay For the second year now, the Madden series is using the Frostbite Engine, and the improvements this year are noticeable even from last year’s game. The cuts, jukes, spin moves, and sideline awareness has been upgraded. The general gameplay feels as though players can actually use their joysticks to move the players the way they want more than ever before. One of my favorite additions to gameplay this year, which can also be tied in with the presentation, is the team and individual celebrations after a sack or touchdown. I’m extremely happy this feature is in the game. Also, I’ve noticed that the All-Pro and All-Madden difficulties are great against the CPU this year; players are going to be getting good games in without getting blown out. It’s more realistic, and I think that’s one of the most important aspects of this year’s Madden. The only issues I have with the gameplay are the consistent turnovers and the running game. I’ve noticed that every time I come in contact with the secondary, I get destroyed by a CPU hit stick and more often than not will fumble. Also, the running game does not seem improved to me; when there are open holes in the line and I try to run through them, I get glitch-tackled by a user or CPU player. Madden has to fix this issue. Thankfully, I utilize the passing game more often, which is beautiful done–no complaints on my end about the passing game. The offensive line actually creates a pocket for the quarterback, and you have time to make a decent throw. For gameplay, I’m going to give Madden 19 a grade of “A,”and 4 points, due to the simple fact that the game runs smoothly on the new engine and the passing game is excellent. We have experienced the highs and lows of the Madden franchise throughout the course of the old generation and current consoles. Nevertheless, EA Sports has shined again with Madden 19. Like Madden 18, this year’s Madden supports the Frostbite Engine. Gameplay looks crisper than ever and there are numerous improvements from last year’s game.