Long Time Coming
August 13, 2020

The new ‘Madden 21’ “Yard Mode” looks like the spiritual successor to ‘NFL Street’ we’ve been begging for

Let us tell you the story of ‘NFL Street.’ Back in 2004, when Michael Vick was still dominating the virtual football landscape, there was this thing called EA Sports Big. EA Sports Big was a Canadian subdivision of the sim-oriented EA Sports brand, specializing in arcade-y adaptations of traditional sports. Responsible for cult classics like ‘NBA Street Vol. 2’, ‘SSX Tricky’, and, uh, ‘Def Jam Vendetta’, EA Sports Big almost single-handedly made sports video games fun again. Despite a stacked roster, however, the studio’s most underrated title was easily ‘NFL Street,’ which took ‘NBA Street’s schoolyard stuntin’ to the gridiron, licensed NFL players and all. You simply haven’t lived until you’ve sent opposing linebackers flying into tetanus-laden oil drums with a stiff arm from prime Fins-era Ricky Williams.

‘NFL Street’ got two sequels before EA Sports Big was eventually sunsetted, but now, over a decade and half after its release, it’s finally getting the spiritual successor it deserves in the form of ‘Madden 21’s new “Yard Mode.” Behold ‘NFL Street’ for generation Tik Tok.

“Yard Mode” is pretty simple, as it should be. It’s 6 v. 6 with an emphasis on trick plays, ankle-breaking moves, and plenty of showboating, all of which come with new animation sets never before seen in a ‘Madden’ game. Fields run the gamut, from the Lambeau parking lot to downtown Berlin, with a quick pit stop at a Miami shipping yard and a top-secret Army base in between. Each field comes with its own set of rules, such as the Miami Port, which pits you against the Miami Dolphins and other famous Florida football exports with a new house rule that eliminates first downs and first-and-goal situations.

As you compete in the quartet of cauldrons, you earn “Cred” by completing challenges, putting up points, and tallying up the Ws. Cred can be used to purchase new gear for your created avatar in five increasingly flashy tiers (common, uncommon, rare, epic, and legendary), so your Mahomes-inspired no-looks and Philly super-specials look as good as they feel.

The NFL goes yard when ‘Madden 21’ drops August 25th.