Plenty of wrinkles to be ironed out

here is still the familiar core of a good sports game with Madden 22, but it is deflating that it...
here is still the familiar core of a good sports game with Madden 22, but it is deflating that it has been released in such a bad state. GRAPHIC: SUPPLIED
From: EA Sports
For: PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X,
Xbox One, PC

Let me make one thing perfectly clear: we don’t know how lucky we are when it comes to the range and quality and insane depth of modern sports video games.

Load up a Madden or a Fifa from ye olden days and you will really get a sense of that.

Let me make a second point: EA Sports largely does an incredible job of bringing these sports to life.

As a sports gamer of some 30 years, I don’t know what I would do without EA bringing out my favourite titles every year. People hate on the company for resting on its laurels and always, but always, placing profits above the art, but overall it has done a remarkable job developing games.

Finally, a third: sometimes it just goes badly wrong.

Madden 22 is, at this point of its release, a mess.

While I know it will get better — as is the way with modern games that launch in semi-ready condition, multiple patches will be rolled out in the coming weeks, and the wrinkles will be ironed out — it is deflating that it has been released in such a bad state.

A couple of intriguing improvements to the game have been clouded by the glitches that relentlessly affect gameplay.

Within a couple of hours of playing, I had struck at least two dozen issues.

They ranged from the mildly annoying (a completely blank play-calling screen) to the slightly amusing (a graphical glitch that turned players’ boots into weird elongated shapes) to the incredibly frustrating (I won an epic game 38-35 only to return to the home screen to find the opposition had been credited with a 35-0 win).

Those were bad enough — but the kicking meter glitch almost made me give up for good.

A weird bug, or possibly an issue with lag, turned kicking into an absolute lottery as the link between when I pressed the button and when the power gauge was locked in appeared to be completely random.

The same modes as last year return. The Yard (like a T20 version of NFL) still sucks, and Face of the Franchise (the attempt at a single player career mode to match NBA 2K’s My Player) is still exceedingly lame.

There are some glimmers of hope with Franchise mode, which has received some attention after the #fixmaddenfranchise movement last year. New weekly strategy options and coaching skill trees appear to have added some depth to the mode, though it is extremely frustrating that a new scouting tool is not being added to the game until later in September.

Another new feature is a mechanic that aims to replicate momentum and home-field advantage, so dishes out boosts or penalties depending on your performance on the field. Honestly, it seems more of a gimmick at this stage than a welcome addition.

Ultimate Team — where all the money is made — gets new strategy cards and a predictable swathe of cool challenges and cards, and can still be a fun waste of time.

On the gridiron, there are signs of smarter AI behaviour, and the running game has been pleasingly tweaked.

I’ve never played a Madden game yet that I hated, and there is still the familiar core of a good sports game here. It’s just a shame it might be a while before everything works as it should.

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