American football is back, and that means it's time for EA Sports to release the latest instalment of their ever-popular gridiron franchise 'Madden NFL 20', which is becoming as much of a major release in the UK as it is in the USA, the home of the game, due to the increasing popularity of the sport amongst Brits.
As with all new EA Sports instalments, the developers are always looking to improve what already works whilst also listening to community feedback - and what they have done with this title is take a huge step forward in terms of gameplay improvements and more.
There's a lot going on here, including the superstar abilities feature, which was a major selling point this time round and has really brought back the fun factor to the franchise.
Football players actually feel like they have an edge just like they would on the turf, and it really drives back a video-game feel, where being aggressive on the field is rewarding.
It means casual gamers wanting to belt 70+ yarders downfield to Adam Thielen whilst he has double-tight coverage and see him come away with a touchdown will love this feature.
However, competitive players looking to use stick moves and jukes to get to the next level won't quite get the same experience.
Overall, the game feels like it flows a lot more - it's worth noting the developers have taken away the pre-snap to a 'no huddle' offense and made the game more fluid.
However, it's easy to get caught out on Ultimate Team if an opponent has ran a no huddle offense with no pre-snap cinematics as a warning.
The graphics and animations have also been given a big boost for 'Madden NFL 20', with signature player animations providing a nice facelift.
It does make the star players feel more real in game, and it's almost a testament to the quality that after a while it just becomes part of the furniture.
You'll get used to it, and soon you might not even notice how Pat Mahomes throws the ball or how Drew Brees likes to constantly pull his pads down.
It's something we'd definitely notice if it wasn't there, and the team deserves props for adding more immersion.
Now, enough about the ins and outs of the game - what about Madden Ultimate Team (MUT)?
This is what EA Sports focuses on, and it's the mode that earns them money and reputation.
Sure, to an offline player, it must feel like the devil, taking away from oher modes - but it's not going anywhere.
MUT has introduced a new version of its solo-challenges called "Missions" - this enables you to upgrade your squad with the items you want, with a clear laid out and fun path to getting there, but also the game is fun when you have a goal to aim for, such as completing 15 passes or rush for 25 yards.
Micro-transactions are back and bigger than ever, and while it's still possible to enjoy the game mode without dipping into your wallet, the impact of in-game spending can't be denied.
Taking everything into consideration - whether it be that Superstar feeling, signature player animations, or how you are able to move more fluently in the game - it's clear that 'Madden NFL 20' stands head and shoulders above the rest as the best console version of American football in history.
Rating (reviewed on Xbox One): 4/5
By Alistair McGeorge