Madden NFL 16 first impressions: An ugly start

Madden 16 title screen

EA Access subscribers on Xbox One can begin playing Madden NFL 16 today, for ten hours over the next five days. I downloaded Madden 16 this morning and just jumped into it for the first time.

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It certainly has a great presentation, especially in the menus, however the initial load time was exceptionally long. It took a solid two minutes, if not longer, just to get through the title screen. The tutorial (a dramatized Super Bowl game between the Steelers and the Cardinals) is presented well, however the frame rate is terrible on the Xbox One. It really distracts from what should be an exciting, dramatic Super Bowl game. It’s like watching a game in slow motion at times, while the screen pixelates and the audio cuts in and out.

Outside of the tutorial the gameplay still seems a little awkward. There seems to be a sort of slow motion effect whenever a pass is thrown. This may be because of the new catching mechanics (where you can choose between a possession catch, a catch that favors a run after the catch, and an aggressive catch) but it really makes the game feel unnatural. There are also some frame rate stutters that are severely noticeable during passes, but also crop up before tackles and many other situations.

If all the stutters get worked out, Madden 16 will certainly be the best looking football game to date. There are some new camera shots that aim to replicate what you see on TV, and the crowds certainly feel more alive (they include female fans for the first time as well!).

I haven’t tried out any of the new modes yet, but from what I’ve seen from the core gameplay I’m not impressed. Hopefully things will get patched up before the official release date (August 25), otherwise I may end up sticking to Madden 15 for a little while longer.

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FIFA 15 is now free for EA Access subscribers

FIFA15-xbox-one

 

If you haven’t yet subscribed to the EA Access program on the Xbox One, now might be a great time for you to do so. This weekend FIFA 15 became the latest game to be added to the EA Access library of free to play games. We’re still four months out from FIFA 16, so it’s pretty nice to see EA hand out one of their best selling games for free.

EA Access is $4.99 a month and gives you access to a growing library of free to play EA games. Those games now include: Battlefield 4, Madden 15, Madden 25, FIFA 15, FIFA 14, Need for Speed: Rivals, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare, EA Sports UFC, NBA Live 15 and Peggle 2. You also get 10% off on digital purchases of EA games, which is pretty cool as I saved a couple bucks on Dragon Age: Inquisition on day one.

EA Access games

I’ve subscribed to EA Access since the very beginning and have enjoyed it quite a bit. I had held off picking up FIFA 15, so I was quite excited to see it advertised on the Xbox One home screen this weekend. I can’t wait to dig into it and start a new career!

Need for Speed Rivals is now free via EA Access

EA Access on Xbox One continues to more than pay for itself with a growing library of free games available in the Vault. Need for Speed Rivals joins Battlefield 4, Madden 25, FIFA 14 and Peggle 2 as the games you’ll get for free with your $5 a month subscription.

I haven’t played a Need for Speed game in ages, and I didn’t expect to have much fun with Rivals, but it’s not too bad of an experience. I tend to prefer simulation racers (Forza) and have never enjoyed arcadey racers like Burnout, but Rivals isn’t too bad. Sure the “story” is laughable and should be skipped outright, but the gameplay is enjoyable. It reminds me a lot of Forza Horizon in that you’re put into a world with other racers and basically mark various events and races on your map and drive to them to start them. You’ll be able to engage in head to head races on the way if you choose and may also get pursued by the police. Any money you earn during your session needs to be banked by heading into a safe house, otherwise if you get busted you’ll lose everything you earned (however,┬ámission progress is not reset).

The only thing I can say I dislike about the game is the load times. Stopping by a safe house to bank earnings is a time consuming process and the load screens involved have kept me from playing more of Rivals. I definitely recommend picking up EA Access and giving Need for Speed Rivals a shot though. You’ll definitely get $5 worth of fun out of it.