Another year, another Madden game. And unfortunately, if you were hoping this would be the one where sweeping changes were made, you’re out of luck.
Like Madden NFL 21 before it, Madden NFL 22 essentially feels like the prior year’s game with some added bells and whistles. It’s a shame, especially when FIFA is getting so much next-gen love, but Madden is still waiting for its moment to shine on those very same consoles. Still, while Madden NFL 22 may be disappointing, it is an improvement on last year’s game, both on the field of play and off.
On the field, multiple new systems make the action more realistic than ever. The home team finally has an advantage, for example, and there’s a new momentum meter that swings back and forth as each team makes moves to put them ahead in the game. If the momentum meter swings so far one way, helpful perks are awarded to the team carrying it, either giving them a bit of a push or hindering the other team. Players might find it easier to get in The Zone when they have momentum, while when their opponent does, the helpful receiver icons might disappear when playing offense.
There’s what EA is calling ‘Gameday Atmosphere’, too. It basically means the crowds are more realistic than ever, and there are new super fan characters that will really sing a team’s praises. You’ll witness more dynamic scenes on the sideline. It doesn’t end there, either. Gameday conditions means even the weather has an effect on play, while Next-Gen Star Driven A.I. is an attempt to beef up the behaviours of the bots so many of us compete against. Are they all perfect? No. Do they all have an impact on the gameplay? No. But one thing’s for sure: they all help the action of Madden NFL 22 feel more atmospheric and alive.
The atmosphere is further heightened by the fact that Madden NFL 22 is easily the best-looking Madden yet. Playing on PS5, it’s hard to not be impressed by the amount of detail present in the game’s players, fans and stadiums. The animation is top-notch for the most part, too. It’s just a shame that you sometimes see players magically warp a foot or two as an animation kicks in. Despite the A.I. being improved, there are still some issues there as well, and post-play you might sometimes see players awkwardly bump into each other. Hopefully some of these issues can be sorted out in a later update.
Presentation has always been a strong point for the Madden series, and it’s no different here. Menus are easy to use and pleasing on the eye. It’s just a shame that in terms of modes, there’s nothing really new. Franchise mode has perhaps been given the most attention, with the implementation of specialised talent trees for coaches and a new weekly strategy system. The latter is particularly useful as it allows you to try to counter your opponent’s strengths. Outside of Franchise mode, though, there’s little of note.
Madden Ultimate Team is maybe a little less reliant on microtransactions, at least. And for those who want a quick blast of action The Yard returns with a four-part campaign as well as the multiplayer Superstar KO mode. On the subject of The Yard, players will also be happy to hear that there’s cross progression between that and Face of Franchise for their custom-created avatar. It’s just a shame that Face of Franchise mode is so underwhelming. There’s a new player class system which makes it a little more rewarding developing your superstar player, but awful cutscenes and a general feel of shoddiness makes it overall a disappointment.
If you have Madden NFL 21, the changes here might not be enough for you to consider parting with your hard-earned cash for Madden NFL 22. It is undoubtedly a better game than last year’s version, so if you’re an ardent fan you’ll probably do so anyway. Gameday atmosphere successfully adds to the ambience from one match to the next, while the new momentum system adds a nice tug-of-war element as players fight for helpful perks. It’s just a shame that outside of Franchise mode there are few developments worthy of note, while Face of the Franchise seriously needs some work. Also, I want a proper story mode back again, EA. I miss Longshot.
Madden NFL 22 Review: GameSpew’s Score