Madden NFL 23 review: A graceful goodbye to the big guy

He is gone but not forgotten. When respected coach and pundit John Madden passed away last December, only a few naive souls could have believed it brought an end to the massive franchise that bears his name.

Enough is enough, nine months later will come the latest installment as usual. To be fair to publisher EA, it took a long time to make NFL 23 a tribute to the big guy. He’s on every cover, menu, and the first game you play after the tutorial.

As a full-game taster, EA pitted Madden against…myself. The sideline coach in full sideburns in the 1970s controls a team full of stars like Tom Brady and Brett Favre. On the opposite street, another Madden with a different hairstyle did the same. You were only in control of one team in what was clearly an exhibition match, but more than four-quarters of the commentators dug admirably into Madden’s legacy and explained who he is and what he is. What made him so great?

It’s also an easy game to practice your new passing skills, in NFL 23’s FieldSense terminology. Thankfully, the description of these improvements is more than just some marketing ploy and can be. Completely change the way you experience football. First of all, player collisions seem more logical and less predictable in their animations.

But, more importantly, the optional new passing mechanic allows skilled players more control over where you dribble in the air. At the highest skill levels, it can be very demanding. But even hacks like me can understand that the little watch on the receiver’s head adjusts to the same precision as when the quarterback threw it at him. In addition, the left club can be used to guide the ball (and the receiver) up, down, right or left slightly – this obviously reduces the chances of interception.

For me, this is definitely the signature feature of NFL 23, a significant leap forward in the mechanics of previous Madden incarnations.

The same cannot be said for most other modes. Ultimate Team feels boring, like in FIFA and NHL games, with microtransactions and a pay-to-win vibe. To me, franchise mode feels like too much management, although it’s clear that many other gamers love that kind of team owner. Meanwhile, Face of the Franchise and The Yard appear as thin imitations of similar features in FIFA – namely The Journey and FIFA Street story modes.

Madden, of course, will return next year. This brand has been too hard for EA to stop now. But a fitting tribute to the greatest gridiron coach ever would go to the producers that took the audience by storm. What chance do they have to focus more on the authentic gameplay they’ve perfected and less on the bells and whistles? A man can hope… Madden NFL 23 review: A graceful goodbye to the big guy

Fry Electronics Team

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