Madden 21 PC Review – Sacked Once More
Too Long; Didn’t Read
“Well, if you’re playing good football in a football game then it’s a good football game. If you’re playing bad football, then, it’s probably a bad football game.” – John Madden
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EA sports takes the latest installment of its Madden series back to Lambeau Field and we finally played it long enough to get a review in.
Now that I’ve been able to spend some time with the game, I’m coming away with somewhat mixed emotions. The good news is that it runs much, much better than last year’s version. But let me clarify one thing: When measuring standards to reference improvements, one must match it up against a game that has already exceeded the gameplay standards. And saying Madden 21 is better than Madden 20 or Madden 19 isn’t really saying much–and truth be told, the game plays just a few notches above its predecessors.
One positive thing about the game is that it looks and sounds like the NFL. EA with its deep pockets and a knack for flair does a brilliant job in its presentation. I mean the whole integration of the NFL Sunday vibe just gives the game an overall polish that very few games can match. Make no mistakes about it – EA remains the king of the hill when it comes to mimicking the look and feel of football.
But presentation means nothing when gameplay suffers. It’s like bedding down with a hot blond; you’re mesmerized by her beauty and looks. But as soon as the novelty wears off, you find out that beneath the voluptuous curves and well-sculptured figure lies the intelligence and personality of a doorknob. Good for a few get-togethers, but certainly, nothing to rush home and write about.
The grass stains on the jerseys give the game a realistic look. Too bad they are almost always in the same spot.
Sacked and Fumble
Once inside the game, fans of the series will find some new goods to savor. The two most practical are the Take Control features that let you master the innovative running enhancements and the X-Factor 2.0 which is designed to elevate stars to a higher status.
Other gameplay features include Face of the Franchise, Ultimate Team, and The Yard, which is a backyard inspired 6v6 game where NFL rules go flying out the window.
While Madden 21 comes out of the tunnels sporting some neat features, the actual core gameplay still needs some work. My biggest beef with Madden 21 is something I tend to write about in every Madden game I review. The gameplay just feels ‘off’ – I can’t really put a finger on it. It’s a direct contrast because the player animation seems so fluid and lifelike this year, yet they move so robotically. This is especially true during canned animations like catches or tackles. It’s not bad, but it does take away from the immersion.
Other noticeable issues are that almost all players can do special moves with the jiggle and twist of the right stick. It’s disheartening to see Tampa Bay’s backfield fake-out defenders and gain positive yardage time and time again against the NFL’s most formidable defense in the 49’ers.
Don’t assume this game is a simulation either because it is not. Beneath the simulation veil, is an arcade game waiting to exploit you with an abundance of dropped passes and deflections. Also silly animations like players running full speed towards the endzone only to literally stop on a dime once they pass the goal line tells me that the coding still needs to be polished up.
As you can probably tell, I’m a little put off with the game. I know updates will come and sort out some of my issues, but the way the game is now, I can’t even recommend it to anyone but die-hard pigskin fans. It just feels incomplete, which is a shame since a few more months of polishing would have probably resulted in a much better game.
Overall, there’s some good stuff in this latest version of Madden, but it’s not as juicy as a typical Thanksgiving Turducken. It scores a few points on animation, new features, and gameplay enhancements but the odd quirks I’ve mentioned above detract from the overall experience. When everything is said and done, only one thing is true, Madden 21 might not be the huge jump forward that I was expecting, but given how this is the only football game on the PC, I’ll take whatever I can.
Overall Score: 70%
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