A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Like previous years, players are walked through coverages, schemes, and audibles to know and understand the best time to use these plays in game situations. Every one of these sessions are accurate to real game situations ranging from high school and college games up through the pros, so players can learn and recognize these plays both in the game and in real life. Gamers also get practice sessions to test their understanding of how a play works, and how to counter opposing players.
Gameplay promotes teamwork, fair competition, and working to complete a goal. It also stresses the value of continually working and pushing yourself and others to be better in both the Franchise and Face of the Franchise modes. EA's push for racial equality and fair play is promoted as well.
Positive Role Models
Plenty of NFL athletes are role models for kids and their community. In fact, there's a significant portion of that reflected in the Face of the Franchise mode, where players, coaches, journalists, and your team recognize your efforts to help out charities. Players can choose to be selfish as well and focus solely on their own career.
There's a range of diverse characters included across the title, especially in the team rosters. The Face of the Franchise mode features an Asian American Pacific Islander offensive coordinator, a female defensive coordinator for your team, a female sports agent representing your created character at the start of her career, and an athletic trainer that has a prosthetic leg. All of these characters are shown to be skilled and capable at their jobs, with the offensive coordinator receiving some atttention for the history he'd make within the league.
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Ease of Play
There are multiple difficulty levels ranging from a player's first time with the sport to settings for competitive eSport play. Some modes, like SuperStar KO and the Yard, are more arcade-like than simulation, which can throw traditional players for a loop. Similarly, the new momentum meters and their random effects on teams stack on top of the each other. Learning all of these modifiers, and how to adjust or counter them in the middle of play will take multiple games.
Violence & Scariness
Harsh hits and bone crunching tackles are part of the sport, and are frequently shown thanks to in-game replays highlighting the end of plays. While some injuries may result and are sometimes shown, no blood or gore appears.
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Unmoderated multiplayer could expose players to inappropriate content in those matches.
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Products & Purchases
This is the latest installment in the wildly popular long running franchise. There's heavy promotion of brands throughout the game, ranging from the menu screens promoting items that can be purchased for created athletes to sidelines with Gatorade and Microsoft tablets. The Face of the Franchise mode is virtually a constant ad for Nike, with the intro of the mode taking place at its headquarters and frequent mentions of Nike and their shoes. Players can use real money (and are often presented with in-game promotions) featuring items that can only be acquired by spending cash versus items earned by play.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Madden NFL 22 is a football simulation for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Google Stadia, and Windows PCs. This is the latest installment in the long-running and sport-defining franchise, which has spanned multiple system generations, created gaming tournaments, and is a household name by itself. The title does its best to present the most accurate, most realistic TV-like presentation of a football game, ranging from its camera angles and broadcast commentary to its replays of crushing tackles and crowd pleasing highlights. Depending on the difficulty level selected by the player, the game experience can be more simulation or arcade focused, making success on the field easier or harder. Like the sport, violence is key to the game because football is a contact sport, so punishing tackles and injuries are to be expected, although no blood or gore will be shown. No inappropriate content is included in the game, though the unmoderated multiplayer can expose players to inappropriate comments from their opponents. But what players will experience the most is a ton of product placement, ranging from team logos to endorsed products, like Gatorade and Microsoft Surface tablets. The Face of the Franchise mode so heavily includes and references Nike, from its shoes to scenes taking place at its headquarters that it can feel like an ad for the company. Finally, the Ultimate Team mode allows players to buy players and items for real money to customize their squads, and there are frequent screens pitching gear and packs that have to be purchased instead of earned through play.
Is It Any Good?
While some elements of this year's' game have received attention that make them very engaging, stale elements and a ton of technical issues are serious penalties for this title. The most notable adjustment to Madden NFL 22 is the inclusion of the Momentum meter. It's always been said that one big play can affect the course of a game, sucking the energy out of a team and giving their opponents new life. The Momentum meter tracks those key sacks, those big runs, those massive first downs and acrobatic catches, and boosts your team accordingly. On top of that, while each squad has seemingly random effects it can trigger as momentum builds for their side, the home team also gets a bonus advantage that can use if things are going their way. It might seem like it's more arcade-focused than before, but you'll be surprised at just how much you care about keeping momentum on your side because it can completely demoralize your opponent. On top of this, the franchise mode, which felt like it's been ignored for a while, has finally gotten a solid boost in the form of skill trees for the staff of your team, so coaches can enhance their skills, thereby boosting the play of the athletes they interact with. This lets you tailor your team and coordinators to fit the kind of play style you want, as well as the kind of offensive or defensive focus you want your team to have. This carries over to the weekly offensive and defensive strategies that you can focus on, giving boosts to your team as you call plays that focus on things like gaining yards on the ground or focusing on denying first downs with smothering zone play. Even better, coaches may ask some players to take on tasks for the team, like mentoring rookies as they play each week, potentially enhancing their stats and strengthening squads. While franchise could go a lot farther in handling the day to day tasks for your organization, this is a good first step for where this mode is heading.
But while on the field play and Franchise has been tweaked, there's a lot of stale gameplay that is disappointing. Face of the Franchise not only feels like an afterthought, the plot and the scenarios feel stiff and uninteresting. Your player, along with his agent and brand manager don't really come across as having a personality or story that you care about, and it's a shallow way to highlight the elements that are handled in a stronger way in the franchise mode. Even worse, the fact that everything initially revolves around Nike, its campus, and your trainer happens to be one of their exercise pros makes this mode come across as more of an extended commercial for their products rather than a mode in its own right. Superstar KO and The Yard return as well, but much of this is tied to driving rep and cred to a skinned avatar, and while that lets you customize this character, it's somewhat meaningless when it comes to the field. But the largest issue has to be some of the technical problems. Whether it's players being stuck in an animation or weird visual glitches that surround referees and other characters during pre-game scenes, there are a number of technical issues that still plague this game. The worst problems were freezes and data loss for some game modes, such as playing Face of the Franchise or online Franchise modes. As a result, some of these glitches forced full restarts of these seasons. It's hard to get a full head of steam with your friends or with a squad, only to lose progress because the game crashes or still pops up some visual problems that have occurred for the past few years. These issues aren't enough to put Madden NFL 22 on the IR list, but it does hamper its run on the way to its digital Super Bowl.
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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.