Every year is greeted by a new season of NFL Football, which gives fans entertainment by watching their favourite team on their road to becoming the next NFL champion. As exciting as American Football can be, the Madden franchise—aptly named after legendary coach John Madden— also attempts to be new and exciting in each annual entry by implementing features and modes to keep players coming back for more. Since its inception in 1988 with John Madden Football, this has been the premier space to get in on the NFL action. Today, it is pretty much the only way to play a football title.
The Madden NFL franchise has evolved over the years, with increasingly better graphics and new control options that allow the player to pinpoint each aspect of the game down to individual audibles, allowing the person behind the controller to play football god of their selected team.
Upon starting this edition of Madden, I was rudely injected into an exhibition match featuring the last SuperBowl matchup, which saw the Buccaneers face the Chiefs. In real life the Buccaneers defeated the Chiefs 31 – 9, but in this exhibition you can play as the Chiefs and redo football history. This is all well and good, but I never asked to play this exhibition and it kind of removes the choice of the player, football god with extra steps. Fortunately, if you are as tired of Tom Brady as the rest of the NFL fans, you can quit this Madden NFL 22 exhibition… but more antics await.
The menu system is the one ‘upgraded’ aspect in these titles that never ever seems to work correctly. I find myself lost in the confusing system, and navigation is a herculean task. Each edition of Madden doesn’t keep its menu consistent, so locating exactly where you want to go is a time drain as the player becomes used to it.
The Madden Ultimate Team mode was a novel idea on a trading card genre, which allows fans to build their own team with a gacha game mechanic that builds anticipation for the star the player unlocks. The randomness is appealing because you truly don’t know what’s going to be revealed. This idea was implemented in Madden NFL 10, and since then it has only become stale, tediously time consuming, and money-hungry.
In Madden NFL 10 there was a ranking system that did not allow your new shoddy team with an overall rating of 50-60 (out of 99) to play teams significantly better than yours. The matchmaking used to work wonders. In this edition, you are matched with much better teams right off the bat. Imagine playing a Halo match where you need to use the pistol and the other player has a rocket launcher… good luck.
This mode in Madden NFL 22, forces you to do ‘challenges’ where you need to complete a certain task like ‘execute a run play’. This isn’t challenging and is also a time sink, because there are MANY of them to get through before you can even begin the ultimate team mode. This game mode peaked in its creation and has since become tiresome with unfair matchmaking, and unreliable connections. A player can also use money in real life to purchase more ‘booster packs’ to bolster their team, which allows a pay-to-win type scenario. Sometimes opening these ‘packs’ is a little glitchy and requires multiple open pack presses, but is not too hindering.
The navigation voice simply called ‘Coach’ is difficult to listen to, he repeats the same lines over and over again which becomes repetitive and bothersome. There are volume controls on your TV that help, but the game itself doesn’t allow you to turn him off. This mode was a favorite of mine only when it first started, and since, it has lacked in every entry.
The Face of the Franchise makes a return in this title, which allows fans to craft their own player in their quest to become the face of an NFL franchise. The concept of this mode is good, make a character live out an NFL dream. However, this game mode also lacks. The cutscenes long overstay their welcome, and it tries to be very niche in what exactly is going on. The Nike product placement is astounding here, everywhere you look on screen there’s a swoosh. The ‘proceed’ selection even makes a reference to Nike.
Thankfully those who want to play the game can skip the acted cutscenes, unthankfully the non-voiced small segments force you to sit through a semi-silent interaction between your player and his coach figure. The cutscene where your player is treated to his very own Nike sponsorship was laugh-out-loud funny due to the dismal facial reactions of your player.
“The core Madden NFL 22 gameplay is very similar to last year.”
The mode is pure Madden when you’re allowed to play the game… but it forces the player to use other players than yours. If you are a QB, you still have to play entire defense sequences without the option to simulate it. In MLB The Show, the Road to the Show game mode only shows the moments that the created character is in, letting gameplay immerse you. This game mode could’ve succeeded where last year’s hadn’t in this regard.
I do have to mention, there are new welcomed RPG-style progression systems in place here. You could even select a class for your player and develop them however you wish, with certain perks that allow your player to become OP. This feature is really neat and allows you to play however you please.
Madden NFL 22 allows friends to have a Fantasy Draft Franchise with each other allowing players to take control of a team and draft the pro athletes to whichever team they like. My friends usually all select the same division so we can play each other often. This is truly the most exciting feature of the game. Being allowed to control a franchise as an owner or coach, and drafting favorite athletes to any team with friends controlling their own respective teams? Sign me up.
This adds a Fantasy Football type aspect to Madden NFL 22, which is very welcome. When your players perform well in this mode, they ‘level up,’, which can motivate fans to focus on their in-game favorites. The online live draft feature is seamless and a lot of fun. The franchise mode remains the top feature of the game. It also removes the ‘coach’ voice, and the hard-to-navigate menus. Football god simulation at its finest.
The core Madden NFL 22 gameplay is very similar to last year. Some aspects have been tightened to add realism, but it’s pretty much Madden NFL 21 with a new coat of paint. Tight in-game controls make for a solidly done football simulation. The gameplay still remains very skill-relevant, as veterans will feel at home.
Football fans that can recognize certain shifts in gameplay are given a huge boost, as the game can relate to real-life football. Individual audibles give you a real amount of control over what happens on the field, and it is still very well done. These features aren’t new though, very much the same as how it felt with Madden NFL 21.
The new generation of consoles features the gameplay more prominently as it is more polished and plays far more consistently. This leaves previous gen owners at a heavy loss; the framerate is sloppier, and the LOADING SCREENS run rampant. Getting into a game is very time-consuming itself, as each navigation of the menu pushes you through a loading screen. Admittedly this is far better again on the new generation consoles as loading screens tend to be small, but on a previous generation, you will be loading… a lot.
Madden NFL 22 adds very little to be considered a new title. The additions made to the gameplay are small and could have possibly served as an update or DLC to the previous entry. A new NFL Draft and roster updates give the title the ability to remain relevant in the football world which lets fans feel in the game, but again these small differences could be served as a DLC add-on. The allowance of the new generation to play Madden NFL 22 with the older generation of consoles is noteworthy as it allows everyone to play together, but notable lag can happen with this, and the kicking mechanics become ruined when the lag hits.