Published on August 24th, 2023 | by Paul Stuart
Madden 24 PS5 Review
Summary: Updated rosters aside, Madden 24 offers little incentive to upgrade from 23.
A Mishandled Snap
O.K., sport game publishers: let’s give up the ghost and go subscription model. If we’re being completely honest with each other, yearly releases are simply not working, and end up retread titles at best, force fit or dropped features, at worst. Let alone the waste of physical inventory inherent via decades of the same title, rinse wash and repeat residing on store shelves. No one is buying a used copy of Madden 2008, as an example, well…ever.
The epiphany emerged when reviewing Madden 24 – that much like FIFA (now EA Sports FC), MLB The Show, and to a lesser extent NBA 2K (as the last version somewhat tried) – is yet another annual release that could’ve been satiated via updated rosters, new Ultimate Team cards, and some additional modes (e.g. FIBA Tourney).
This is not to insist Madden 24 is a bad game. Au contraire, in fact. It’s the best-looking Madden to date, with character and stadium models jaw dropping gorgeous. I state this having played on Performance mode, as Madden 23 started cooking the room on a PS5 when trying to look super pretty. Menus also feature a slight upgrade making them easier to navigate, to include deliberate and overdue attention to link created player modes together (which now resemble 2K in execution). Worth noting is it seems Madden 24 dropped some crowd and stadium presentation aspects. Combine and minigames are unnecessary.
Physics – specifically player skeletons and interactions – are touted as upgrades…but do not truly standout in a noticeable way. The new Superstar mode tries its best to channel NFL Blitz but sadly fails to deliver. The 3-on-3 challenges are silly, a bit boring, and garish enough to invoke eyesore. A new throwing mechanic inserts a timing window to complete perfect passes, but honestly only ends up making an already complicated system now very complicated. Meaning, if you’re played Madden 23, you’re pretty much playing the same game with very subtle additions and minor subtractions.
Now things get a bit uncomfortable, and let’s begin with the soundtrack. For a game rated ‘E’ for seemingly everyone, the amount of arguable vulgarity and reference to extreme violence required several double takes to ensure they were actually there. I’d be livid if I accidentally gifted this to a 10-year-old only to have him/her absorb references to putting a loaded gun in his/her mouth. Yes you can turn off certain songs, but default is not a good look. Here’s a cheat sheet on what to mute (with offensive options labeled as explicit).
Looking wider, sport game publishers need to stop stereotyping their audiences in soundtrack selection. Madden, much like NBA 2K, assumes every user wants nothing but heavy doses of hardcore hip-hop. NHL seemingly believes their entire player core wants exclusively terrible university alt-rock. Soccer games err on brit-pop or Euro techno, only. If you’re not going to spend money on endless music licensing, at least give players the option to select their own genre. Or…welcome to 2023 where you can offer multiple music streams.
Related, Madden – again echoing NBA 2K – features god awful player models resembling a particular ethnicity only in appearance and voice. No customization will truly free from a specific build outside of physique. Now I fully understand not going full open kimono like NHL, the latter choice which resulted in horrific racial caricatures in faces and character names, making online a grating experience when cheating and jerk factor considered in tandem. Still, going the extreme other end doesn’t work either for exactly opposite reasons. Heck, with all the ongoing discussion about more representative characters in gaming, it’s wonderfully ironic that sport gaming – plastered with inclusion messages throughout, also fair play beacons – fails miserably in letting players be, well, themselves.
Also, Madden needs a serious rethink to how it executes, period. The game remains awfully staccato and over-complicated in its menus, control scheme and execution, bogged down by poor AI decision making and over-powerful star players on both offense and defense. Games simply slog on with no excitement factor, and team boosts for completing certain actions does little to spice things up. There’s just not enough randomness, freedom of movement, and/or sense of individual player/team feel to make games fresh.
Expert, competitive Madden players (to include Ultimate Team) are the only ones apt to find the true nuggets of gold in the game, as deep strategy and on-the-fly decision making is when the game at its best. Thus, if you’re someone who can easily change receiver routes, adjust team zone coverages, and find the fourth receiver option on a low throw…then you will get the most out of Madden 24. If you have no idea what the heck I’m saying, think twice about this game.
These may seem harsh criticisms at first glance, but only – as stated above – Madden 24 could’ve been better served on refining Madden 23 versus getting several parts arguably wrong in a brand-new title. More simplified controls, presentation diversity, and physics sliders are three areas Madden could’ve improved on, while updating player rosters accordingly.
Per review open, I really wish one sport title – NHL seems the obvious one due to more niche fan base – would simply give the subscription model a go. Clearly, Konami made a terrible decision to not go this route and ended up killing a fantastic Pro Evolution Soccer franchise en route to its bastardized free-to-play and now dead game.
More of a rehashed Madden 23, Madden 24’s new additions do little to move the chains. Old hiccups return, new ones introduced, and it remains a title best suited for hardcore players.