SING IT: THIS OLD MAN, HE PLAYED ‘21’
LATEST INCARNATION OF ‘MADDEN’ IS GRIPE-WORTHY, BUT JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU CHECK OUT ‘THE YARD’
My concern is that at some point, I’m going to outgrow the “Madden” franchise — just age out one of these years after decades of playing EA Sports’ crown jewel.
That’s why this “Madden NFL 21” review is so conflicting. Did the game miss on some huge opportunities for advancement this year, or have I, at 52, simply become the guy telling you to get off my lawn?
Are the numerous game glitches because of a worldwide pandemic that has confined most people to their homes for months, or was it just a lazy year for the game developers?
So many unanswered questions, so much confusion.
First, the bad.
For most in the “Madden” community, especially the lifers, the movement to make the Franchise Mode more authentic and keep an old-school feel proved to be a fail. Taking it a step further, if you buy the game solely to play Franchise Mode, just stick with “Madden 20” because there are very few changes.
The other noticeable problem with “Madden 21” is all the glitches. Wrong uniforms, players morphing into each other, game crashes in certain modes . . . it all has been on display in the early version.
The good news is the game developers realized the mistakes that already were shipped to the public and are quickly sending out install patches to fix them. They also have said there will be updates and patches coming to improve the Franchise Mode experience, so the early complaints are being heard. Just how loudly remains to be seen. Fingers crossed.
As for the good parts, they do outweigh the bad, especially thanks to one new game mode called The Yard. Think “NFL Blitz” — last released in 2012 — on steroids.
The Yard mostly appeals to a younger generation that wants arcade-style hits and crazy rules, backyard footballstyle. Any player can get the snap in this six-on-six setup, and multiple passes are allowed on a single play.
What makes The Yard even more of an eye-grabber are the graphics for different fields you can choose to play on, the new-look uniforms and the ability to collect coins to purchase new gear.
That’s the other key addition to this year’s “Madden” that will attract a younger demographic: attire that can be bought or collected. Borrowing from “NBA 2K” and its Playground game mode, The Yard not only allows a crazy playstyle but also the ability to level up and change your player’s look with creative jerseys, helmets, arm wraps — the whole shebang. It’s like “Fortnite” skins for football.
Another plus in “Madden 21” is the continued strong stick work. Game play is still smooth, whether you’re running with the ball or scrambling to find an open receiver. The developers even added some new tools for the defensive linemen to be more effective in defeating blocks and making life hell for opposing quarterbacks.
In the end, however, this feels like a game that was released before it was quite finished. That’s why this year’s grade is a C-plus, with the hope of it eventually becoming a B-minus as the mistakes are corrected.
“Madden 21” is still the best football gaming experience on the block . . . or, in this case, in The Yard. And it’s a yard I may unfortunately yell at you to get out of. ✶
One of the game’s highlights this year is The Yard, a new mode with a backyard-football feel that allows players to choose from a variety of fields and collect coins that can be used to buy attires and accessories.