There's just one word to describe Madden NFL 22 with, and that's frustrating. That's the feeling I will remember when I stop playing this game. There are far too many small bugs and poorly programmed American footballer. I have also had the (un) luck to test both versions of the game, for the previous and current console generation. It is a little inconceivable to me that the PC version is the same as the previous generation and thus lacks any new features. But, as for those new features that have been added, ones that EA has been banging the drum for, they are things that have already been in previous games and are now added again a few years later. So, this review will be about the new console generation's version, but I will mention the previous generations when necessary.
I mentioned above that the game has problems, big problems. These are things that take away all the joy from the game that might otherwise have been good. Let me name a few. There are videos online that you can check out if you really want to take a deep dive. On the bug front, I encountered players getting stuck in a movement and simply being frozen there. A challenge in Ultimate Team was to throw a touchdown, which I did, but at the same time the opponents got a yellow flag. Of course, I refused that penalty and took my touchdown, but then I suddenly found that the challenge failed because I did not throw a touchdown. I've seen computer-controlled punters kick the ball in the wrong direction.
In the image below, you can see when the opponent makes an interception, with one hand, through my player's head. Add to that what perhaps made me most frustrated and made me almost scream straight out, which are wide receivers who can not catch a ball and as soon as they have the slightest contact from opponents, the ball will just bounce out of their hands. There are players who do not care to block, even though the player is right in front of them. There are other players who do not have the strength to raise their arms to catch a ball that instead hits them in the head and falls to the ground. Then we have so many things that ordinary American football players would never do, tactically, but that review would take an eternity to work through. Needless to say, the game has problems.
The new console generation will at least get some, small improvements. Or changes if you do not like them. There is a new momentum system during the matches. If you perform well and maybe throw a touchdown or make an interception, the meter at the top of the screen will go in your favour. There are two "features" that each team can unlock during a match and that vary from match to match. It could be that your players cannot get tired or that the arrows showing the routes your players are running will be completely destroyed (see image below). This feature is missing on the previous console generation as well as the PC version. The audience has also received an improvement with more animations, but seeing the same fans over and over again feels a little sad. Not to mention when a supporter is wearing a team jersey, but holding a sign cheering on the other team. It's whimsical.
The different game modes are exactly what we had last year. The Yard, which is Madden's equivalent of FIFA's Volta, is back. It's an attempt to make the sport seem cool, with colourful clothes and equipment. Different rules and faster games can make it fun, but it's really not all that interesting in the long run. In addition, it has become another place for EA Sports to raise money through microtransactions outside the Ultimate Team. MUT, as it is called here, is of course also back. Why would they get rid of this game mode? And it's just like last year. Exactly like last year. Complete challenges, unlock players, buy card packs and hope to get the best players, to take your fantasy team online and so on.
Face of the Franchise, the game's career mode, is nothing to harp on about either. It's the same old show where you play as a young, promising player (now you can choose four positions, QB, RB, WR and LB) who face challenges until the upcoming draft. The situation is far too short and sometimes feels like a long commercial for a particular clothing brand that will be frequently mentioned. If you have previously played a career mode, this will be exactly what you have already experienced. Improvements are needed here and the situation is several miles behind the similar game modes in the NBA 2K series and FIFA. However, Franchise Mode has finally improved, with mixed results. This is a game mode that many players choose to spend their hours in the game with and it has honestly been pretty bad. We can now hire and fire coaches, but it completely misses the mark by having a role-playing-like trait tree for each coach. I want different coaches who are good at different things. There are now also weekly reviews and tactical layouts before each match that show what you can use with the opponents, but also what you should watch out for. Halfway through a match, you can then change your tactics if it does not really work as you intended and then you may need to defend it in a press conference.
This game is not good unfortunately. The new generation has received a few small updates, but nothing that saves the game when it is so buggy and frustrating. The rating this game gets is based on the new console generation's version of the game. If you are considering buying it for the previous generation or PC, you should know that many features are missing and that the rating would have been at least one point lower. I also feel no hope of seeing any improvement. EA signed an extension for their exclusivity to make NFL games and will now have the rights until 2026, and right now, that's looking like it could be a long five more years for Madden fans.