Madden NFL 21 (Xbox Series X/S) Review

By Luke Hemming 10.03.2022

Review for Madden NFL 21 on Xbox Series X/S

This review has been a long time coming, however with the release of Madden 22 it seems like the perfect opportunity to share what has been experienced. It is worth noting that as a British NFL fan with limited access to the sport until recently, the delicate intricacies and nuances are certainly not noticed. After over a year with the '21 iteration however, with confusing menus, options and styles of play, it may be time to return to basics for the series and not only win back long-term fans, but gain some new ones in the meantime.

The FIFA of American sports games, along with all the issues that come with that title, initially wows with the graphical finesse you would expect from an EA game. All of the hulking men (some of which I've heard of) are realistically presented as sweat drips off a helmet or a face is crumpled by a high impact tackle. Stadiums themselves also buzz with the realistic crowd reacting to every play on the field with excitement, happiness and often with an amateur player, disappointment. There is no arguing with the professionalism and effort that goes towards making everything look and feel as realistic as possible and with in-game, slow motion replays designed to capture how good everything looks, never has there been a better time to hit a late tackle on Tom Brady.
Satisfyingly the standard gameplay accompanies the graphical prowess well enough and even a complete newcomer can quickly grasp the ins and outs with enough competency to stay competitive against the AI. Lower difficulty modes do not present too much of a challenge, and the main technique for success seems to be either pick the play, ignore the play and leg it, or just throw to the furthest man. Very satisfying initially but as with its real football brother, once hitting the higher difficulty of taking part in the online options, there is little hope of success with those basic tactics. Still, to get a player into the swing and having fun, it is a good start. As previously mentioned, without the deep knowledge of the sport others gain, it is hard to find any fault in just how fun the game is.

Screenshot for Madden NFL 21 on Xbox Series X/S

All teams are well represented (Go Panthers!) and seem to follow the playstyles of their real-life counterparts; for example, they give everything to Brady, Brady will solve everything to do with offence of the Buccaneers. The recommended plays are a godsend to the inexperienced and really help with countering whatever attack or defence is played. For veterans and experts there seems to be an almost inexhaustible number of options to play with to get the best out of the selected team. When venturing outside the recommended, however, it is clear that expert players are not going to be disappointed in the lack of customisation to exactly replicate their play style (even if it is different from repeated Hail Marys).

Screenshot for Madden NFL 21 on Xbox Series X/S

Presentation is gorgeous, gameplay is fun and in depth without alienating the less talented amongst us, a sure home run in every respect? Sadly, outside of these aspects the whole experience begins to become bogged down by the abundance of modes and features. Much like the statistics that accompany a televised NFL game themselves, Madden 21 seems full to the brim with irrelevance. The most attention has clearly been given to the MUT mode, forming an ultimate team of jocks to take on the world. Every other mode is meat for the bone, but this one feels like gristle. It is available, but it is just the art of the product, not providing the jump in innovation that should have accompanied the first next gen release. This is not to say modes such as franchise and 'the yard' aren't enjoyable enough, there just is not any real incentive to try them over the tried and tested NFL match.
More hours have been pumped into this effort due to the benefit of the series X resume mode. There is a lot more incentive to play a full minute match when you can leave a quarter for a few days and jump right back in, taking advantage of the relaxed style of gaming the quick resume option brings.

Screenshot for Madden NFL 21 on Xbox Series X/S

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

With beautiful and accurate presentation as well as great gameplay, the basics are done fantastically well. It is such a shame then to see the rest of the package convoluted with endless menus and unnecessary, incomplete feeling modes. Madden 21 is certainly heading the right direction, here's hoping the newest iteration 'pads' everything out.

Developer

EA

Publisher

EA

Genre

Sport

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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