Madden 15 Review
Everyone here knows that I'm not a huge Madden fan. I'm a 2k5 fan and have written several articles with my feelings on EA having exclusive rights to the NFL games. But this year, I was really wanting to try out Madden on the next-gen systems. I didn't get a demo copy and there is no place to rent the game, but my local Gamestop came through with a used copy. Perfect! If it's bad and I don't like it, I can return it. But you know what? This is the best Madden I have played in a very long time.
First off, the game is gorgeous with high rez HD graphics and lights effects. The faces of players and coaches look like their real-life counterparts. Jersey's look fantastic, even muddy and dirty after playing a game in the rain. The stadiums are beautifully rendered with accurate lighting for the time of day, as well as at night under the lights. Crowds are loud and noisy with accurate team chants and music. Add in the lifelike movement of the players and the TV style presentation, and you really feel like you are watching a live game on TV. For first, next gen system sports game, this year's Madden has really captured the look and feel of the NFL. I can't wait to see how it will look in a few years when they fully tap the systems' potential.
The overall game still feels very Madden, as you would expect it to. All the qualities you have come to expect in a Madden game are here. Connected Franchise that you can play online or off, Ultimate Team, the fantasy trading card game, as well as single games online or off. There are a lot of new features with the gameplay as well. There is CoachGlass, where you use your smartphone or tablet as a second screen for the game with stats and info, a skills trainer in franchise mode and upgrades with both the offensive and defensive gameplay.
There are two features that really stand out to me that sets this year's Madden apart from past years. The pass rush mechanic is a great new feature. Something I had always done in past football games, when the opposing QB would snap the ball I would mash the speedburst as a lineman and try to bust through the offensive line to put pressure on the QB. This year they have made it a feature where by successfully timing your jump on the snap count, it gives your defender an advantage over the blocker and will let you know with a visible "perfect" or "late" over the head of the defender you control. Once engaged, pass rush moves can now be performed with a finesse move (X on PS4) or a power move (Square on PS4). You then use the left stick to move the blocker left or right and try and break free to make the tackle. I find it most effective on the end to use a finesse move to get past the defender and get the sack on the QB. This feature works really well and makes playing defense fun again.
On the offensive side, the new play calling system has been simplified, giving you more info. You can choose your own play, choose the coaches play or have the game recommend your play based on field position or down. If you are connected to the internet, you can also see what play the community chose most often. After the play, it will show you how effective your result is compared to how the community did choosing the same play. This is a really cool feature and I always like getting better results than others. Another great feature that has been improved, is the matchup stick. Before the ball is snapped, you can pull the camera back and see the formation and routes that each receiver will run. If you push up on the right stick while in this mode, it will show you the best match up with colors green, orange or red. This makes it easier to find mismatches to take advantage of. This year's tutorial is a big help, showing all the new features and how best to use them and should be played through by anyone new to Madden, as well as seasoned vets.
There are many more improvements on both sides of the ball, and even the kicking game, but it would take too long to go through each of them. Overall, I think this year's Madden is a huge step forward for the franchise. There are still flaws, graphic glitches and just dumb moves that AI controlled players make. But this is no surprise, and really doesn't hold the game back like it did in the past. If you are a video game football fan, you owe it to yourself to try it and see what next-gen football will be about. One thing that really makes me sad is we will not see a college football game that looks, and plays, like this.
4 out of 5
Madden 15 is available now for PS4, XB1, 360 and PS3 both digital and physical.
The PS4 version was used for this review.