Football is kinda back baby!! And to celebrate EA Sports did the bare minimum to please football fans around the world. If you thought the NFL’s handling of the league during COVID was a mess well just wait till you see what EA has done. If this year’s Madden NFL 21 was a team it would be the Cincinnati Bengals.
I’m no massive football fan and find it most entertaining when I’m betting on it. I played a few years of high school ball (Go Sun Devils!) and watch every Super Bowl for the nachos, commercials and endless beer. I’ve played almost every Madden since 1994 and my favourite football games were always the EA NCAA or the Blitz series. Football has been in my life whether I like it or not but I wouldn’t say I’m a big fan. I’m more of a casual observer who appreciates the sport and it beats the hell out of say soccer. It just so happens my bubble currently has a few football superfans in it who live and breathe football. They love Madden so upon getting Madden 21 for review I figured I might as well invite them over to get their thoughts. Thankfully I had a fridge full of beverages and enough food to feed the Ram’s offensive line because Madden sure wasn’t going to keep us entertained.
We lasted about 3 hours before calling it quits and playing a much better party game, Fall Guys. Madden is just too plagued with bugs and glitches to really consider ready for the boys. As one of my friends put it, “This year’s Madden is more disappointing than Tom Brady going to the Buccaneers”.
I’m not alone in disliking this game, Metacritic currently has the game sitting at a 0.4/10 user score, which frankly I didn’t know was possible. I’m no lover of Metacritic but I see where people are coming from. This game is much like 2020, a giant disaster and I can’t even substitute the fans for cardboard stand-ins. Come on EA, let me have some fun. Where’s a mode where I get to play stealth type mini games as the coach, as I stop players trying to sneak out of their rooms to party. In a way the game certainly sums up the 2020 football season, just not in the way it hoped for.
It’s not all red flags on the field tho. Madden NFL 21 does feature a new mode called The Yard which is actually rather fun. It’s much better than last year’s new addition Superstar KO. Think of it as backyard football, where teams of 6 compete on an 80-yard field. It’s a toned down version of NFL Blitz and I wish EA went full on arcade with it. It’s got some wonky rules that will get a bit of getting used to but at least it’s something different. It’s honestly really fun and I do recommend giving it a shot. It’s definitely not why people play Madden but for those just looking for a fun football experience this is the mode for you. It’s the only thing different this year and remember this is the only football game on the market.
Franchise Mode is the exact same as ever. Face of the Franchise: Rise to Fame is back but I’d skip it all together. Madden’s NFL 18’s Longshot really set the bar high for a single-player story mode in Madden and ever since then EA has done nothing but fumble the ball and squander a great mode.
Sports Games are tough to put out every year. Companies force nearly the same game every year on the same player base. Just look at EA Sport’s NHL series. A game I refuse to bother with. It’s a shining example of a game that never gets any changes, year over year. If other games like No Man’s Sky did this we would be on No Man’s Sky 4 by now. When not much changes what is the point of buying the same game all over again. We live in a very “online world” where games like this should be simply updated vs making consumers buy a new copy. If I was to put on my marketing hat as to why the need to buy a new game every years, I’d say it’s probably because EA has no competition. Well, and how else will the players get the famous Madden curse? EA has exclusive rights to the NFL which means they can do whatever they want. That includes keeping banners in the game that say Madden 19 or seemingly not updating animations since 2017. EA Sports, it’s in last year’s game.
Where do I stand on Madden NFL 2021? Buy this game if you wanna pay $60+ for what should be a free roster update. To not be totally negative and end on a positive note, playing this game is safer than, say, going to a live NFL game this year. So at least there’s that? Oh and both the PS4 and Xbox One editions of the game will have free upgrades for the next gen so you can enjoy all the same bugs and glitches in better definition. That’s a touchdown on your own end if I ever saw one.