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Every fall season, the video game industry releases their annual sports titles, coinciding with the beginning of a new season for the respective sports. Baseball and video game fans alike have already seen the release of MLB 15: The Show earlier this year. However, this issue we cover Madden 16 and NHL 16 in a short two-issue segment on sports gaming.

Madden 16

Madden season is here. Whether you’re legitimately hyped or simply just enjoy watching those cheesy commercials on TV, Madden was released August 25 to gamers worldwide.

Visually, Madden is very good with how the game looks on and off the field. That is to be expected with the graphics capabilities of these new consoles, but Madden does a great job of giving off that TV presentation feeling, with graphics appearing mid-game showing stats, and authentic looking character models. The audio portion of the game is a lot less exciting however. The commentary from Phil Simms and Jim Nantz, as professional and realistic as it may be, is just bland and boring at this point; the repeated lines don’t sound dynamic to the atmosphere of certain games or situations. It makes you wonder why EA wouldn’t take advantage of their partnership with ESPN and have esteemed commentators like Mike Tirico and Brad Nessler take the reins. Additionally, some of the soundtrack choices seemed a bit odd for a football game. The Weeknd? Is this football or The Bachelor?

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When it comes to the gameplay there are only minor tweaks that are worth mentioning. The passing game received a slight push with a new catching system that lets users decide how they want to approach the play after catch. Minor bugs have been found in-game, including a hilarious video showing a fumble that lasted nearly nine minutes to resolve!

There is one big upgrade to the game modes that Madden has to offer. The new Draft Champions game mode lets users draft teams based on their preference and use their team against players online. Other than that, you have Ultimate Team, which has become the cash cow for EA in the past years; along with Connected Franchise, which has started out rather poorly due to some bugs and glitches within the game. Even then, nothing significant has changed in the mode and the career mode comes nowhere close to the immersion that a game like 2K does.

So fans, rejoice, football is back, and so is Madden, the yearly tradition in sports gaming that is sure to invade dorm rooms and frat halls this season.

NHL 16

Hey hockey fans, before the first puck drops in October why not treat yourself to some action in the form of NHL 16? The annual hockey game released September 15 to massive relief from hockey fans. After the mess that was NHL 15 last year, with numerous features being stripped from the series and laggy menu screens, fans will be refreshed by the new version coming out this year. The presentation was never a problem and still looks good this year, with the NBC branding and Doc Emrick leading the calls.

Gameplay has a nice new twist to it, with an ever-changing tutorial system that adapts to the way you play in-game. As you play, the system will give you hints to to improve and provide feedback on moves, shots, or hits given. The skating feels smooth and delivering brutal hits never felt better.

The game modes in NHL are vastly improved compared to the thin options offered in the previous year’s version. Hockey Ultimate Team is still getting the company a vast amount of money with micro-transactions abounds. EA Sports Hockey League, known to the fans as EASHL, returns following its absence last year. The fan-favorite allows gamers to form their own hockey teams and compete 5v5 against other teams cross the globe. Be a Pro is back and allows the player to start his career off in the juniors and work their way up to be a NHL player playing in the Stanley Cup. Be a GM has massively improved following a narrow approach last year.

Most important, is that the menu screens don’t take forever to navigate! What a bother it was last year just trying to get from your calendar to you roster. Simulation times have decreased noticeably and the new player morale system adds a new dynamic to the mode.

Overall, hockey fans and sports fans in general will enjoy this year’s version of the ultimate hockey experience, which learned its lesson from a dismal performance last year.

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