The real game of football is a strange, entertaining sport that’s called ‘Madden NFL 22.’ You can’t duplicate it

In October 2016, the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals played a football game.

It was good. It was not. It didn’t matter. It didn’t really matter in the scheme of things. The NFL’s accidental discovery of something to distract divided nations for just a few minutes on Sunday, in the weeks before a heart-wrenching presidential election was a 6-6 tie.

Both teams seemed to be allergic to winning. Both kickers failed to make the game-winning field goal in overtime. This was a common problem for every NFL kicker.

When nothing makes sense, football is at its most brilliant. When they chose an oval ball, which can bounce unpredictably at all times, the architects knew exactly what they were doing. Its rampant stupidity makes this sport unique, especially for a sport that is so often portrayed as a gladiatorial spectacle.

It would be nice if Madden NFL 22 could reflect that.

EA’s latest annual franchise, which is wildly successful, has a lot of good looks. Each league’s stadiums are beautifully rendered to match broadcast-quality commentary or intimidatingly loud crowd noises in some circumstances. It’s fine to play football, as well. EA claims there have been improvements in catch animations and protection of the offensive line, but I find the difference marginal as I play Madden semi-casually every year as a therapy exercise, as the games don’t really exist and have no stakes.

When nothing makes sense, football is at its finest

Despite all this being true, it’s been so boring that I haven’t felt the same excitement about it as the actual game. While the real players and teams are present, they remain silent virtual puppets lacking any narrative depth that is characteristic of an NFL season.

Here’s a collection of my favourite goofy moments in recent NFL history, which Madden can’t (or won’t) recreate in any satisfying way.

You get the idea. I could go on and on, but it’s enough. Each NFL game is more than just four quarters of running and passing. There are so many contexts that make it even more fascinating.

Madden allows for some fun trick plays, such as the Philly Special from Super Bowl LII. Some people even have recreated the Butt Fumble. There are also procedural silliness in the Franchise mode, which makes up most of single-player progress each year. For example, teams can randomly move to London after only a few simulated seasons.

For me, however, this is a loss of juice. Madden does not show much beyond what takes place on the 100-yard field. Butt Fumble was more than just funny, it was also hilarious. It happened during a humiliating loss to the New England Patriots on national television on Thanksgiving. It was seen by everyone .

The Jets fan aside, it has been a decade-long favorite for the whole NFL fan base. It’s just a turnover in Madden and it moves on. Although Franchise mode offers the most fun and hilarity, it’s not as easy to enjoy in Madden. However, after some time, I just don’t feel like it.

A great catch can be fleeting. A star quarterback who suddenly leaves the game to go pee is a permanent loss.
Credit: EA Sports

Players can choose to either become coaches or players in this year’s game, as well as create avatars upon their first game. The “Face of the Franchise” mode features your player, a rookie star who has become a savior in college. There are a few awkward cuts that lead up to the NFL Draft. To get your signature shoes, you’ll visit Nike Headquarters and attend an event in Hawaii. You will also try to impress the fake assistant coach during a pre-draft training session.

None of this is engaging. Sometimes, you’ll find yourself making dialogue choices which boil down to one or more generic answers to pro-athlete questions about greatness or leadership. It’s almost impossible to care. When I learned that my opponent was the Houston Texans (a lowly team), I had to choose between being self-assured or humble.

Only one thing comes even close to my expectations of a football match is the chance to pose for the red carpet photoshoot. It has the potential to make you feel human and endearing. This is something that a 22-year old fresh face might enjoy. It’s not something I have played in the hours that I’ve had to play.

Remember, these are human beings with personalities and flaws, in a sport where a player’s draft position tumbled because someone hacked his social media and posted a video where he was smoking weed out of a gasmask bong. Madden shows a world in which nothing is like it.

It’s a simulation of adults playing a video game. Have some fun!

A Madden version with real narrative variation would be a great idea. No joke, I’d get a huge kick out of virtually feuding with a fake head coach because he won’t start my created character for petty reasons, or getting in trouble for acting a little too rowdy during a Super Bowl celebration like Tom Brady did earlier in 2021. You can have fun playing this game, which simulates adults who are in the game business.

My boredom with Madden NFL 22 is largely due to my growing older and learning how to appreciate sport in a new way. I used to be content with tightrope passing and lockdown defense a decade ago. The glory of winning was captured in the extravagant NFL Films style, complete with orchestrated music and cinematic footage.

It still works to some extent for me, but I now see players as more than just superheroes. The football field can be a space where all the emotions and behaviors of humans are displayed for up to four quarters. But without knowing the story behind it and the consequences, the game becomes nothing more than a game.

My beloved Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl in 2020. It was not only exciting because it had been 50 years since they did it. It was a mix of tragedy and comedy that happened over the 50-year period.

Even during long periods of incompetence, every NFL team can have deep lore. Even though they may not have much in common, two fans can share the name of a forgotten QB from the 1990s with one another and enjoy a short laugh. Although it is difficult for any game to replicate that feeling in a videogame, I find football to be very special.

Publited Sat, 21 August 2021 at 14:32.17 +0000

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