Madden NFL 18 (Sniper)
Genre: Sports
Developer: EA Tiburon
Publisher: Electronic Arts

This year's edition of Madden eschews both its old, in-house game engine, and its slightly cartoonish aesthetic, for a full-on realism assault: running at a native 4K with HDR, Madden NFL 18 is astonishingly beautiful, whether the view on offer is from a stunning external stadium shot, an in-game replay, or the fully motion-captured story mode. In-match animation is still prone to occasional strangeness as real-time physics are apt to do, but in general the matches do a nice job of emulating the look and flow of the real sport.

"In the court room sipping on a beverage, I know the judge so I got a lot of leverage." If anyone wondered how or why the African American community is decades-long stuck in the vicious cycle of victim-stancing and the idolatry of criminal behavior, look no further than their music, which fills Madden NFL 18's soundtrack. Mercifully, the tunes' volume can be turned down, but the rest of the audio package isn't much either; in the NFL 2Kx tradition, the announcers are hired actors, yet are directed to sound like real announcers-- what's the point?

In modern times, the Madden titles have always had two problems: an emphasis on dynamic physics and realism at the cost of fun factor playability, and a refusal to boil pre-snap actions down to their basics, ala NFL 2Kx. The second problem remains, but... what is this setting: "Arcade Mode"? Eureka! Player movement responsiveness is notched up, game pace isn't so crushingly slow, and the AI doesn't brutally punish every mistake.

The new arcade setting is revelatory, making Madden NFL 18 the best playing NFL 2Kx game since 2K5-- the mode makes that big of a difference! The game's aesthetic and presentation is still a smidgen on the generic side, lacking things like cheerleaders or a coin toss, and it would be nice to have less "blending into the background", gabbish announcers. Yet, marrying the outstanding core gameplay to the uncannily well-designed franchise mode makes for an outstanding digital rendition of pigskin.

Sniper's verdict: