“Madden NFL 21” review

Jonathan Melancon, Reporter

EA Sports expands on its 32-year-old football franchise with the addition of the new “Park” mode, but is that enough to separate “Madden NFL 21” from its predecessors?

Madden NFL 21” is developed by EA Tiburon and published by EA Games. It was released for Playstation 4 and Xbox One on August 28, 2020 and will be available for Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X when the consoles launch in Nov. 2020.


“Madden NFL 21” looks to build from last year’s Madden installment. This year’s gameplay features returning elements like Superstar X-Factors, Ultimate Team, Face of the Franchise and Franchise mode. This year’s new game mode is “The Yard,” an attempt by EA to rewind the clock and give players arcade style Football, like “NFL Blitz” and “NFL Street” with no penalty system and swagger. The issue is, it doesn’t appear to have much to offer.

The issue coming into “The Yard” is that there is a lack of explanation about what exactly it is and what can be done. As a mode of  “Madden 21,” using the same engine, and with the same controls, one would  think it should all come fairly easily. It seems more interested in letting you wear fluorescent jerseys and shoes rather than playing the mode itself.

For the rest of the game, Madden 21’s TV-style setup brings you closer than ever to a real game-watching experience. Brandon Gaudin and Charles Davis play a large part in the commentary and their play calling matches up well with the action.


“Madden 21” uses Frostbite 3, the same engine used in “Madden 20.” The Frostbite engine specializes in momentum based results, meaning speed, strength and timing are the central focus. The details for the players have gotten a little better since “Madden 20” in the “NFL” modes, but other modes look and feel entirely separate.

The same physics don’t apply to “The Park.” Gameplay for “The Park” feels loose. Timing from throws and catches doesn’t feel in sync along with swats and tackles.


Madden NFL 21 is a great example of why competition brings the best. Without a comparable NFL experience on the market, EA has allowed its marquee sports franchise to fall behind in almost every significant way. In a world where its contemporary sports games continually evolve with innovative new game modes like NBA 2K20’s Neighborhood, deep franchise options like “MyCareer,” “MyTeam,” and “MyLeague” in the “NBA 2K” series, or even the cinematic story mode from EA’s own “Fight Night Champion” — a boxing game from 2011 — Madden’s lack of innovation has become obvious. There is no excuse for Madden’s stagnation. The tweaks to the core gameplay and the addition of “The Yard” is appreciated; however, that isn’t enough to sing its praises. The Spinnaker rates this game a 2.5 out of 5 sails.


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