Madden ’16 far from stale, as latest installment pushes the franchise forward

SHARE Madden ’16 far from stale, as latest installment pushes the franchise forward
SHARE Madden ’16 far from stale, as latest installment pushes the franchise forward

It’s that time of year again, when couch cushions aren’t safe and NFL locker rooms are a trash-talking haven.

Madden NFL ‘16 hits stores on Tuesday, so let the annual player-ratings debate begin.

“Players that say they don’t care about their Madden rating? They’re lying,’’ Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin said a few years back.

So how much do they actually care?

Ask former NFL receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who was so upset with his speed rating that he called for a boycott of Madden 2010 back in the day.

“Frankly, we love it,’’ the game’s senior producer Seann Graddy said in a recent phone interview. “We go out to the rookie symposium every year now, show the rookies coming into the league, we let them guess what their ratings are going to be, and then we show it to them and get their reaction on video.

“I mean think about that the guys playing in the league now, most of these guys have grown up with Madden in their life the whole time. Madden has always been a part of the league, so your Madden rating is a huge thing for the NFL players, especially the guys that grew up playing the game.

“And even if they don’t look at it, somebody on their team does. Somebody is going to tell them about it, especially if that rating is higher or lower than what that person might think it should be. There’s definitely an awareness of it more now than maybe ever.’’

Ratings, however, are nice for initial debate, but don’t sell games. Game play carries that weight, and Madden ’16 delivers in that department. The new “Draft Champions’’ mode is great for fantasy football addicts, but as far as the actual on-the-field play, the receiver-catch mechanics that have been added, as well as more throwing tools for the quarterback again push the game forward.

According to Graddy, forward is the only direction the franchise is looking to go. The five-letter word that EA Sports hates to hear about Madden is “stale,’’ and far too often the past five years that’s been tossed in their direction.

The hope was that Madden 2015 for the next gen gaming systems was the start of that obvious step forward, and ’16 just continues to push it in a positive direction.

“It’s something we definitely fight, without a doubt,’’ Graddy said. “It is frustrating in years past when you hear things like, ‘It’s just a roster update.’ I know that I have a team of 150 people killing themselves, loving this sport, loving the game, loving the NFL, and doing everything they can to put out a great product. And then to hear guys, that in many cases don’t fully understand the game, just call it a ‘roster update.’ That just blows me away. Madden 2015 was really a solid, solid entry in the legacy of this product, and a great foundation for the game that is about to come out [this week].’’

Overall, get ready to have your receivers high-point the ball in tight coverage, and give Madden ’16 a solid A-.

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