Another year, another Madden game, and another chance to send my New England Patriots to the Superbowl (and hope that it actually happens in real life). At least this year we have a semi decent quarterback in the rookie Mac Jones. EA always try to at least change some things each edition, but does this year’s instalment bring any change for the better?
Let us start with something that really upset me this year and that is the “Face of the Franchise” mode. It puts you in as a young college player and you journey through some college games to ultimately become the number one draft pick and play for an NFL team. Along the way, you have to make various decisions which shape your character and how your career progresses. For example, not only do you get to pick your college but you can also pick which position you play between quarterback, running back, wide receiver, or the brand new option of line-backer. In terms of advice on what to choose, as QB you will be playing a lot more than if you WR, RB or LB. I think WR is the worst as all you really need to do is hold B, X or A to catch the ball and let it auto run for you.
I found the whole mode pretty boring. There is so much more that could have been done with it, especially considering how good the NBA2K story modes are. Hell, even the Longshot story mode from Madden 18 and 19 was so much better than what has been given this year. And the unskippable cut scenes are so frustrating! There are no achievements for this mode, so if that’s your priority you don’t need to even bother touching it.
Now we move onto the career mode called Franchise. You can choose to be either an Owner or a Coach. As the Coach you set up who you wish to draft and set line-ups, but if you fail to live up to expectations you will get sacked. As the Owner you are managing everything the coach does but you also get full control of both the football and business operations. You set prices for tickets/merchandise, renovate/rebuild facilities and hire/fire coaches and other staff. If you pick some of the weaker teams you can also relocate your team to a different country.
This year the mode includes staff management, an enhanced scenario engine and weekly strategy. However, I found this very clunky and it doesn’t really change the way the game is played. For me, it’s more about just playing through a season and trying to sign some players that I like in the league. I have never really focused at all on this section and there’s nothing in this instalment that changes that. You still have the ability to change player stats or create your own players and this can also be done during seasons.
But, the feature I do enjoy is being able to create your own team. You can only pick from a few names and I always chose the London Black Knights to replace the Titans. They have the beast that is Derek Henry as well as Julio Jones and AJ Brown, so at least I have some good players. I always get rid of Tannehill because he played for the Dolphins and I’m not his biggest fan, haha!
Ultimate Team mode is back and it’s something that unfortunately, no matter whether it’s FIFA, NHL or NBA Live, I think is a waste of time and money. I know EA will never change on this mode as it brings in money and some people love it, but for me other game modes are more fun than making up a team of random people and trying to get the team rating up.
Moving on, the music in the menus is dreadful but perhaps that’s purely because it’s not my taste in music. At least you can turn it off very easily. The commentary during games was run-of-the-mill, but I got sick of hearing “…and all the way in, it’s a touchdown” over and over and over and over again! Another thing that annoyed me was that I would frequently get disconnected from EA servers which just interrupts your experience.
My feeling with this title is that it’s a strange one. I feel they improved the gameplay but only slightly, nothing majorly noticeable. Everything else in the background is just either the same as last year or worse. I feel they could have done so much more, like actually fully creating your own team and entering the NFL from the ground up, a bit like how it’s done in Formula 1 for example. If you had to try and sign players to create a 53 man roster and work hard to get much better players, that would be way more exciting than what they have right now.
I understand this is yet another next season Madden title with updated players as each year tends to be but really when it comes down it, the achievements are less fun and it’s pretty much all the same unless you enjoy Ultimate Team. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth shelling out your hard earned cash.
Madden 22 is the next year’s instalment on the franchise and I feel it’s gone back a step. Yes, it looks graphically better, but otherwise it’s really not that much different to previous instalments. The career mode is a roll-forward from previous years, as are the achievements. EA could do so much more with the Madden franchise and it’s a shame they haven’t executed it as well as I’d hope.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox Series X/S. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.