It either escaped my attention, or I entirely forgot about it, but EA had announced at E3 that Madden NFL 19 was going to be bestowed with the honour of being released on the PC, along with the two powerhouses from Sony and Microsoft. It was only the other week, when I saw PCGamesN reporting on the release of the game, that I signed into Origin for the first time in months, and saw Madden ready to be purchased. What did I do? Hit the break to find out.
Well, I looked at the price of the game, a shocking £54.99 and thought better of it. But wait! I then remembered that EA had recently launched Origin Access Premier, a little subscription service which would give me the super-special (not really that special) Hall of Fame edition of the game, and access to it five-days early! Frankly, if you’re thinking of buying two EA games on the PC over the next 12-months, the Premier deal is fantastic. Enough of that, let’s talk football.
I’ve been an on and off fan of the NFL since the early naughties, back when a certain Tom Brady burst onto the scene leading the New England Patriots to all manner of Super Bowl titles. I didn’t become a proper fan of the sport until Super Bowl XLII, that of the infamous helmet catch where the dreaded New York Giants defeated my Patriots. As the years ticked by, I have become an ever greater fan of the sport, and also started to pick up the Madden games.
The ones I played were all largely fine, their on-field action was pretty damn great, but I found everything else a chore. The games always took forever to load, seriously, I could have cooked a three-course meal sometimes when waiting for Franchise Mode to do its thing. The menus were always horrendous, and Ultimate Team wasn’t welcoming to those of us who dare not venture online with our sports games.
After a few years of absence from the Madden franchise, the opportunity to get back in on the action, on the PC no less, was an easy one to make. Well, that’s where my comments about Origin Access Premier come back into play. I know that if I saw Madden 19 in the shops, I would simply walk past and save my money for another game. But running the maths, I figured that I would be looking to buy Battlefield V and Anthem which would set me back close to, if not more than, £100 in total. For those two games alone, Access Premier made sense. Throw in the opportunity to check out a Madden game again, get a full-feature FIFA later this year (though I will still check out the Switch version of that)…oh and the remastered version of Burnout Paradise? Well, right now I am feeling like I’ve spent £89.99, and received three free games for my trouble.
Would I have signed up to Access Premier at a later date? It’s more than likely, but Madden 19 was the game which tipped me over the edge and convinced me to dive-in. And you know what? I’m having a damn good time playing it, knowing that I haven’t spent a fortune on a game that I have guarantees that I will feel was worth the outlay.
It helps that some of my old gripes about the Madden games have been laid to rest. This is a proper PC port of the game, full of the expected visual settings alongside a functional mouse and keyboard control scheme, though a gamepad is the better option. Madden has its own version of The Journey, the singleplayer story mode that highlighted FIFA 17 and has continued in the series since. In Madden 19 you pick up the story from last year’s game in Longshot. There’s a lot of cutscenes to work through, and the story is a bit hit and miss, but having not played the game last year, I found it a welcome diversion. The heart of the game is in Franchise mode, where for the first time since I’ve been playing the game, I’m not bored to death with horrendous menus and long loading times, though trying to find a balance between the Rookie and Pro difficulty modes is a challenge. Ultimate Team is present and correct with enough singleplayer activities to keep me merry without worrying about dipping my toes into online action.
It’s nice to see Madden back on PC, and even better to see EA trying new things with Origin Access Premier. Whether this type of business model takes off elsewhere with stores like Uplay and Battle.net, I’m not too sure. For now though, I’m happy with Premier. Now, time for me to see if the Patriots made a big mistake sending Garoppolo to the 49ers…