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'FIFA 22,' 'Madden NFL 22' kick off fall video game sports season

"FIFA 22" and "Madden NFL 22" are kicking off the sports video game season. Images from AP via EA.
"FIFA 22" and "Madden NFL 22" are kicking off the sports video game season. Images from AP via EA.
Posted at 8:22 AM, Sep 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 10:08:57-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The latest editions of EA's two strongest-performing annual sports series -- "EA Sports FIFA" and "Madden NFL" -- are letting gamers play out their virtual sports fantasies. Here's a look at both games.


After a few years of the equivalent of making short, non-aggressive passes in mid-pitch, "FIFA 22" -- due out Oct. 1 -- rears back and sends off a deep cross into the box.

Rejuvenated on new-gen hardware, the slick, gorgeous rendition of the Beautiful Game recalibrates the physics system, adds nuance to the AI and adds an array of 4,000 convincing animations to the mix. The cumulative result is a game that plays like a new, energetic franchise rather than a staid, run-of-the-mill annual release.

Bursting with post-vaccination life, the game captures the myriad joys of the global game. Chants, fan sections and quirks of famed stadiums make you feel like a world traveler. There is also a hefty dedication to the women's game, going beyond lip service to fuel the growing momentum of the female side of the sport.

The career mode, which launches your first moments with the game, is more cinematic and deeper than in previous years. With emotion and philosophical choices entering the equation more than in previous editions, you feel as though you're immersed in the life of a rising pro.

The street-soccer focused Volta mode is also enhanced, but still feels like something of an afterthought. Still, the progression system is addictive, making for a breezy alternative to 11-on-11 matches.

As with previous editions, the card-based "FIFA Ultimate Team"mode is beleaguered by microtransactions and blind packs. The pay-to-play system can grate on you, but there are manageable ways to accumulate the best players and perks without opening your digital wallet.

While some recent "FIFA" entries were skippable for those without the need to keep current on the multiplayer scene, "EA Sports FIFA 22" makes a strong case that it's time for an upgrade. That's particularly true for those with access to an Xbox Series X/S or PlayStation 5.


Even as EA's goliath football franchise makes strides to become more of a lifelike sim of America's favorite sport, the game itself has made noticeable shifts to become more "Madden"-like, with the focus on mobile quarterbacks and coaches' increasing willingness to break tradition and take more fourth-down and two-point conversion risks.

The on-field action in "Madden NFL 22" -- released Aug. 20 -- plays as smoothly and with all the vigor and wildness that fans have come to appreciate. Significant upgrades boost the animations and broadcast-style elements.

While glitches and money plays are inevitable, there is more incentive to vary up play selection and adhere to sensible tactics rather than to exploit go-to formations and moves. New-gen hardware also all but eliminates the load times that were the usual bugaboo.

Still, the feel is not drastically improved from "Madden NFL 21," and there is a gnawing sense that the on-field action was allowed to largely stay on autopilot while devs plunged most of their time and attention to revamp the franchise mode. "Madden Ultimate Team" also gets plenty of attention, no doubt because it is such a huge moneymaker for the franchise.

Enough of a wholesale rebuild has been applied to give the game a re-energized Las Vegas Raiders-style feel, but the appeal of the mode remains limited to stat geeks and RPG-minded sports fans.

The uncommon choice of dual cover athletes Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes speaks to the general tone of "Madden NFL 11" -- an embrace of the game's future companied with a somewhat awkward, perfunctory reverence for tradition. Those hoping for a fresh and vibrant new-gen relaunch could be disappointed, while players looking for a moderately advanced version of the series they love will be content enough to huddle up.

Publisher provided review codes.

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