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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players learn the basics and intricacies of play calling, as well as the use of certain plays and schemes in games. Training sessions walk players through formations, why coaches call certain plays, and give hints about why some play schemes take advantage of some player and team strengths. Some players will be able to recognize these schemes in the game or in real college and NFL games after playing.
The gameplay promotes teamwork and working together to accomplish a goal. It also promotes competition, testing and improving your abilities, and cooperating with teammates.
Positive Role Models
Many NFL athletes are role models for kids and their community, so if they're positive in real life, it can be argued that the same is true in the game.
Ease of Play
The game has multiple difficulty levels, so all kinds of players, from newcomers to vets, can pick up and play the game. Sections have been tweaked and adjusted for the new Superstar and X-Factor rating system, so it may take multiple games to fully get used to this year's updates.
Violence & Scariness
Players go through some punishing, bruising hits, which is part of the sport. No blood or gore is shown, but some injuries can be seen because of collisions.
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Unmoderated multiplayer means that gamers could be exposed to inappropriate content.
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Products & Purchases
Latest installment of long-running football franchise. Team logos and endorsed stadiums are constantly promoted. There are even highlighted promotions of Gatorade on the sideline. Players can use real money to purchase packs and items for the Ultimate Team mode to improve their squads.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Madden NFL 20 is the latest installment in the long-running Franchise for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PCs. The game attempts to present a realistic simulation of the NFL, and gives players multiple options to tailor and tweak games to match their personal playing style. But thanks to some of the new tweaks to the game system, such as Superstar and X-Factor, it could take a few games to fully understand how all of the adjustments work in this year's game. While there are no language concerns, online play is unmoderated and could expose players to inappropriate comments. Football is a contact sport, so players will see painful hits that could result in injuries to athletes, although no blood or gore is shown. There's a hefty push of promotional content in games, ranging from commercial branding in stadiums and during in-game playback to players using money to purchase content for their Ultimate team to improve their custom-made squads.
Is It Any Good?
While this year's version of football manages to score in some key moments, it occasionally fumbles the ball in surprising ways. Madden NFL 20 targets the majority of its attention this year on the athletes that dominate the action on the field – the superstars of the league. 50 athletes have specific traits, like the ability to break tackles or disrupt passes. As you play games and use these stars to excel at their position, they'll get into "the zone," which gives them a boost to their stats and on-field performance. Of course, this isn't permanent – they can be countered by certain plays from the opposing team, like sacking the quarterback or gaining a certain number of yards on offense. The system captures those moments where a pro athlete just starts to dominate a game, turning their performance into a personal highlight reel. The one hiccup here is that it can be exploited by both gamers and the computer alike, and if one or two players on the same team are in the zone at the same time, they can be almost unbeatable. Otherwise, it adds tension and a rush to the on-field action from down to down.
This year's Ultimate Team also packs more challenges and missions than before. What's nice about this year's tweaks is the fact that you can select a set of challenges and play from start to finish without having to ever move out to a menu screen. That's great if you want to fly through skill tests and boost your squad. It's also nice to see that the new Mission set up gives you more options to pin down exactly what kind of players or items you want, and directs you in how to get them. But if there was a downside to this year's game, it would have to be the disappointing Face of the Franchise mode, which is a replacement for the Longshot story from the past few years. Here, you play a largely forgotten college quarterback that tries to win a National Championship, then triest to make his mark on the league. Along the way, you'll make choices that can define your player's stats and gives dynamic challenges in each week's game. But apart from the initial sequences with the college game and the draft, there's really no story here at all, making it feel like a bland introduction to the franchise mode. Characters introduced here rarely come back and have any impact on your game, apart from giving additional experience for your quarterback. Even your choices are reduced to very tame text options in the locker room. Hopefully this is either eliminated in next year's game, or the mode comes back with a fully fleshed out story. If you overlook the weakness of the career mode, though, you'll find that Madden NFL 20 is a solid chapter to the football franchise.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.