Game review: Madden NFL 22 (PS5)
And just like that, it's Madden season again. Madden NFL 22 kicks off this year's EA Sports extravaganza. After the next-gen boost for Madden 21 at the end of last year, Madden NFL 22 has come around quickly.
We were sent the PS5 version to review, but I've also had a go on the PC version, which is included with EA's Play Pro subscription. Xbox owners with an Xbox Game Pass subscription can download and play 10 hours of Madden NFL 22.
First, a few things about my review. I come from a country where football is not played with your hands. Until about ten years ago, American Football (as we call it in the UK) was completely alien to me. I've never watched NFL on TV, and all I know about the sport I've learnt from Madden games. I'm not an expert with the game's nuances, but I respect and enjoy the strategy and get a lot of fun out of a good bit of yardage and, of course, sacking the quarterback.
The Madden games have always been a showcase for EA Sports' graphical prowess. Even more so than their most popular sports franchise, FIFA, the nature of the NFL game's up-close and personal action doesn't really allow for shonky visuals and the clipping that you'd not notice on other titles. The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S have enabled the developers to push the envelope, with the gameplay looking even more realistic than ever. That being said, with Madden 21 getting a next-gen graphical boost fairly recently, Madden NFL 22 doesn't look that much different on the PlayStation 5.
I've not played Madden on PlayStation before. On PlayStation 5, the game makes full use of the DualSense PS5 controllers. You can hear chatter and the crowd from the built-in speaker and feel the contact through the haptics.
One of the things I love about Madden games is just how accessible they are. Whilst appearing a lot more complex than its FIFA stablemate, you don't have to know that much about NFL to play the Madden NFL 22. Sure, the game will drown you in the statistics that seem to be an American national pastime when it comes to their sport, but it's OK to ignore all that. Plays can be picked from a suggested list until you get the hang (or not) of the various strategies.
Whilst on the defence, button-mashing after every snap will likely bring down your ball-carrying opponent. Similarly, getting your quarterback to throw the ball by pressing the receiver's designated button will also do the job a lot of the time. But knowing the intricacies of the game and which button does what opens up more opportunities and the chance for some breathtaking plays.
The included training and drills are dry as a bone but essential to understand how to get the most out of the game. The drills take players through the various passing and catching options as well as the defensive moves that'll have you sacking the quarterback and reducing your opponents' yardage.
Players used to the continuous player of FIFA or NBA may be troubled at first by the stop-start mechanics of an NFL game. The game is broken down into a series of offensive and defensive plays, whereby the team on the offensive must advance 10 yards in four downs (tackles). Failure to achieve this, or scoring a touchdown, results in the ball being turned over to the opposing team. While the action may only last a few seconds, it's a lot more intense than in a soccer game, as there's more at stake.
With the clock continuously stopping a game of six-minute quarters, play can last a lot longer. This is where the option to “play the moments” comes in handy. This allows the more time-poor players to experience the crucial, defining moments of the game within a set playtime.
The iterative nature of Madden NFL games means that on the surface, the game is very similar to last years offering, but with updated team rosters. EA boast of new dynamic gameplay, and the players do seem a little bit savvier. Overall, the game is polished to a fine shine, with the lustre of the on-field action matching the overall game's presentation.
EA Sports have packed Madden NFL 22 with gameplay options. From a simple exhibition match solo or with a friend to the intricacies of Ultimate Team and its fantasy football/collectable card mashup, there's a mode for everyone. The 6-on-6 action of The Yard allows for a quick, fast-paced game, whereas Face of the Franchise allows players in it for the long haul to take their own potential NFL superstar to the top.
Players can the Franchise mode has been updated to give players better control of all the aspects of running a team. As before, games can be played with arcade, simulation or competitive settings.
With Madden NFL 22, EA Sports shows no sign of letting up with their next-gen sports titles. Easy to get into but difficult to master, the 2022 American Football game looks amazing and is a lot of fun to play.