Baseball may be known as America’s Pass-time, but with the popularity of football (and not the game the rest of the world calls futbol) you wouldn’t know it. For that reason, you can understand why Madden is the top selling sports game stateside each year only rivaled, recently, by the NBA 2K franchise. This is why, even more so, it is so unfortunate that obsessive pigskin fans such as myself, are consistently disappointed in the lack of innovation from year to year. Of course being the only football option, period, on the digital gridiron causes no push on Electronic Arts to up their game; but rather put a new shiny coat, a roster change, along with a few minor gameplay bells and whistles instead.
Enter Madden NFL 15, the first, true, next-generation football title. Madden 25 saw a next-gen release, but was developed and optimized for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; despite a new Ignite Engine and remodel player design the game did not receive the full development cycle needed to make a statement. As the football fanatic I said I was, I am happy to report that Madden 15 is a definitive Next-Gen football experience. While Electronic Art’s, as said, isn’t known for its innovation in its games, Madden 15 was given the time and attention to detail to set the bar high for football on the newly-donned consoles of the future.
While Madden 25 was decent to look at, Madden 15 is given the focuses on this aspect like football fans expect. It isn’t just the player models, field, or the textures; yet the stadiums, lighting, and facial animations that build on those strong points and make for a beautiful and complete package on the field. The off the field action, however, isn’t much to look at. The menus remain, for the most part, unchanged. When the camera pans, things get a little less pretty as sidelines look much like their predecessor and the crowds, while decent, still underwhelm and are nothing that build any more excitement or atmosphere. The biggest complaint in the visual department carries over from last year as well, with the Ignite Engine causing players to still trip over each other and land in awkward positions. It’s not as bad, but still very noticeable, and ruins some of the submersion when your running back trails back to the huddle unable to remain upright.
The gameplay, especially for the defensive side of the ball, gets the most attention. The outcomes are strong and add a level of control not previously seen. One of the first things to notice is the new camera that creates and offense-like viewpoint and puts you behind the defender. Clicking the right thumbstick this year actually allows for a quick change of the camera so that pausing the game isn’t even necessary. When playing as a lineman or linebacker Trenches 2.0 makes all the difference. It’s not like just pressing the joystick forward as the previous versions relied on, but instead a timing based button push that determines your effectiveness on the rush. Not only that, but driving a lineman in a direction to cut off running or throwing lanes makes the game feel authentic and more like what we watch on Sunday afternoons. Defensive backs play the field much better this year, especially when computer controlled with Player Sense 2.0, which causes less broken assignments. Gone are befuddled moments of your middle linebacker playing like a safety covering the back half of the field.
However, it’s not all fun and games on the field though. Playbooks still don’t feel as defined as they should; playing with the Lions and their new Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, the playbook looks nothing like that of the Saints which is where his playbooks stems from. And when it comes to the play of the wide-receivers, unless a seasoned vet at controlling them, they are simply put… soft. Game changers like Calvin Johnson or AJ Green shouldn’t easily be pushed around, making no effort at the opportunity of a ball up for grabs. It’s extremely disappointing with the way the game has changed to benefit these players that Madden NFL 15 doesn’t do more to reflect them.
All the game modes are here, including the fan-favorite Ultimate Team, Connected Careers, and others. While not much changed from Connected Careers, aside from a couple of menu changes that make you scratch your head as to why they put those options there, it still plays very well and lets you control about all you could ever want to. Ultimate Team gets a lot of attention this year with improved lineup making tools, and the ability to jump in to different trainings to gain more credits to improve players. While not one of my favorite modes, fans of it will be happy that it functions like a seasoned vet. Online is still a solid options for those looking for a player-versus-player challenge, along with the Connected Franchise Online providing a lot of variance to the offline modes.
The Final Verdict
Madden NFL 15 is a great option for those looking to curb the football hunger, and provides a solid simulation, for the most part, of the NFL game. While there are something’s that still remain a frustration with some of the Artificial Intelligence being increased and their counterparts receiving no attention (ie – DB’s versus WR’s), the game is still amazing visually and a lot of fun to play. There is no other option, not even college, on the market so if you want a football game you have little ways to look outside of Madden NFL 15. Good thing for all of us that eat, sleep, and breathe football Madden NFL 15 delivers a robust set of modes, major graphical overhauls, and outstanding new gameplay features on the field. In the end it’s like a big ol’ bird on Thanksgiving Day, filling you up enough that you probably won’t need any more until the following year.
+On the Field Visuals
+Robust Gameplay Options
-Ignite Engine still broken
-Wide Receiver versus Defensive Backs Play not accurate