Madden NFL 22 officially launches this Friday, but you may now be seeing reviews of EA Sports’ latest football game as those who pre-ordered the MVP or Dynasty editions gain access to the game. We’re not ready to deliver our final verdict on EA’s latest Tiburon effort, but I’ve put several hours into the game and can offer some initial insights.
This year, Madden is focused on making the game’s atmosphere feel more true to life. In that sense, the title is very successful. New animations for spectators provide a greater sense of realism and presence, and remastered crowd sound makes those big moments in games feel more impactful. Not only that, but the mods that add the new boost meter and home field advantage provide the right boosts most of the time. The improved blocking makes the run game more effective, and I like the more responsive capture for the passing game.
Franchise mode also introduces some notable improvements, including new skill trees for four trainers on your staff. I also like the weekly game planning that grants boosts based on the strategies and approaches you choose for offense and defense, as well as the ability to decide how intense you want your practice to be before the game. It’s still not the full step fans wanted for Madden NFL 21, but with all the changes from last year’s post-launch updates added, plus a promised exploration update tentatively scheduled for next month, the mode is slowly coming.
The single-player story mode, Face of the Franchise is, quite frankly, an unfinished mess at this point. Already awkward story scenes are made even worse as characters’ voice lines don’t trigger properly, sometimes leaving the two people in the conversation looking at each other. Other times, the voice lines repeat or continue to play from earlier scenes into the next.
However, failures are not isolated from off-field action. In one practice sequence, the players didn’t appear directly, causing the ball to fall harmlessly to the field, ending the drill (plus side: I was playing linebacker and my goal was to avoid the first down, so at least I got credit for succeed). On another occasion, I was participating in a 6v6 tournament in New York at the start of the mode, but each player’s feet messed up, resulting in horrible contortions and sometimes abysmal frame rates.
The biggest problem came in my player’s first NFL game. After a bit of preparation, my character was excited to take the field for his new team, the Los Angeles Chargers, against the Washington Football Team. After seeing the Chargers take the field with my character in tow, the camera awkwardly cut to an empty tunnel. After sitting on the shot for too long, Madden NFL 22 put me in the game, which suddenly turned into a Chargers-vs-Chargers mirror matchup at the Washington Football Team’s stadium. I guess the Washington football team was busy that day. That particular bug never occurred again, but it’s still indicative of the overall current state of the mode.
Face of the Franchise
When Face of the Franchise works, it’s a lot of fun. Taking my character from college football standout to NFL star is rewarding, and I like being able to choose which side activities to engage in to earn specific boosts, but I’m not a fan of menu-driven stuff. Most of the choices are made via text messages, and the narrative beats are often delivered in the form of voicemails from your agent or brand manager that play over cutscenes of your player sitting on their couch. Whether you’re talking about Road to the Show from MLB The Shows or My Career from NBA 2K, the single player career modes are right up there with Franchise as my destination mode so I’ll always find the fun in these situations and scenarios. but Face of the Franchise from Madden NFL 22 is missing.
While I’ve spent most of my time in Face of the Franchise and the standard Franchise mode, I plan on taking more shots in The Yard and the myriad of other modes before I reach my final verdict. Stay tuned for the full review later this week.
Madden NFL 22 launches this Friday, August 20 on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC.
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