Friday marked the release of Madden 19, and with that came another riveting edition of the ‘Longshot’ story mode. Despite the success of the mode in Madden 18, many felt it was cut short. Therefore, EA took it upon themselves to expand on solid foundations and they delivered for sure.
The story of this year’s Longshot follows on from that of last year, centring around Devin Wade and his best friend Colt Cruise in their hunt for success on the grandest stage, the National Football League.
Devin has finally made it to the NFL as part of the Dallas Cowboys organisation. Here, you experience a very unique, yet realistic journey of a young prospect in the NFL struggling to get a place on the practice squad. In addition, as the player you witness all of the trials and tribulations that come with creating a spot on the team, which he eventually does in a blockbuster trade to the Texans.
Colt’s story follows a different path. With the odds stacked against the determined wideout, Cruise must battle the off-field issues he encounters throughout the story, whilst attempting to follow the path of his best friend. As the story plays out, it becomes evident that Cruise is not quite cut out for the league and upon discovering this, Colt agrees to take over as the coach of his high school team, the Mathis Bullfrogs, after Coach Jamison passes away.
Firstly, I like the alternative root that Longshot: Homecoming takes. Instead of focusing on Devin’s athletic ability, which far outweighs that of his pal, the story explores Cruise’s likeable character to the fullest.
Following on from the NFL Draft, (shown in Madden 18) Colt is still the same humble and somewhat conflicted sole, who is not yet sure of what he was destined to become. Cruise’s story truly tugs on the emotions of the player, and there is always an overarching sensation of impending doom – usually aimed toward his career as a football player. This terrific use of storytelling ends in Cruise becoming Head Coach of his former High School football team, bringing a feeling of content knowing that Colt is finally where he was always meant to be. Something that is alluded to when he begins to sing the song — “Finally Here” by Ruthie Collins.
Longshot: Homecoming also provides something totally unique for the franchise. It’s innovative use of Madden’s integral gameplay allows for each play to feel like it could be your last. With that comes added responsibility for the player, and for me, it felt like I was the character when it became time to make a big play.
Another positive in Homecoming was the acting. Of course, there’ll be no academy awards in the works, there were many strong performances trickled throughout the story. Scott Porter (Colt Cruise) is once again fantastic, as previously mentioned. Also, Antonio Brown and Deshaun Watson join along for the ride in a few cutscenes which only adds to the realism of the story. Finally, Rob Cephas Jones as Earl Coates (QB Coach of the Dallas Cowboys) is exquisite in his role nurturing Devin’s talent while battling an unforeseen illness.
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There aren’t all that many negatives to take away from the game. However, there are a few minor discrepancies.
The focus on Colt Cruise’s journey coincided with a step back from that of Devin Wade’s. Now, of course something has to give. On the other hand, Wade’s story at times appeared to be an afterthought, especially considering after the first half of the story Devin’s journey relied mostly on its gameplay, rather than cutscenes.
Furthermore, I feel that EA and it’s development team should have taken a more cutthroat approach to the gameplay. For example, at some points in the game, an interception could have been completed. However, the player is forced to try again in order to fit with that of the games pre-existing story. Although this is a minor issue, it would’ve been quirky to see an alternative approach to the characters’ fate.
Finally, the diversion of the pair’s careers pulls both athletes in different directions – which isn’t a negative. However, I think it slightly detracts from the foundations the story was originally built on: brotherhood.
Madden 19’s Longshot: Homecoming Mode is a fantastic follow-up to its predecessor. Exempt of a few minor glitches within its expansive story, there are many good gaming hours to be had. In addition, this fresh take on an ageing franchise gives the regular customer something different to experience from that of Franchise Mode or Ultimate Team.
In conclusion, Longshot: Homecoming isn’t enough of an addition to make the purchase of the game justifiable, however, it is a fantastic inclusion to an ever expanding franchise.