Almost 30 years of the Madden NFL gaming franchise, there’s bound to be duds.

After all, how many tweaks can be made to a hit-stick or the game’s once famous Franchise Mode?

That’s why Madden ’18 – released on Friday – gets such high praise. EA listened to the people and went outside the box in this latest version.

The addition of the Longshot story-mode – the first in Madden’s long history – was well overdue and done well. Think “Friday Night Lights’’ [The TV series, not the movie], intertwined with an individual personality test to grade the gamer’s moral fiber.

Longshot centers around a character named Devin Wade, who had to end his college football career early because of a family tragedy. But that football hunger reappears for Wade, and it’s about trying to capture back a once promising NFL career.

There’s distractions from a childhood friend named Colt Cruise, as well as mentoring by Dan Marino. Overall, it was a surprisingly deep storyline.

Does it shoulder the Madden ’18 game? No, but it’s a great alternative from popular modes like My Ultimate Team [MUT], and actually factors into MUT play.

The other change that stands out in this latest version is the new Frostbite graphics engine, enhancing movement, lighting and the look of the stadiums.

There are some glitches with Frostbite that pounce into the game now and then, but graphically it’s as good as Madden as ever looked or played.

So why all the criticism being thrown at Madden, including with this latest version? EA has built Mount Everest, allowed us all to climb it over the years, and now gamers want to scale a new mountain that doesn’t exist.

Other companies have tried video game football, and have failed for a reason. Madden has long been as good as it gets, and now has a bunch of spoiled consumers. Best advice? Embrace Madden for what it remains rather than something it could never be.

The Good

— Ultimate Team has some subtle changes that still make it the best mix of fantasy football and gaming in the business.
— Frostbite engine is big improvement in game play and graphics.
— The Longshot story mode is refreshing.

The Bad

— There’s still some latency glitches with Frostbite that creep in every so often.
— Franchise Mode needs a serious reboot.

Overall Grade: A-