Madden 15 Review

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Posted September 2, 2014 by John Newby in Video Games

Another year, another Madden. This is a normal thought to have each August when EA Sports releases another game. These thoughts are the result of 8 years of Madden games being released with far too few changes between each game. However, EA Sports is trying to change these thoughts while making defense fun again with Madden 15.

In 2014, the Seattle Seahawks completely walloped the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl while putting on the best defensive performance since the 2001 Baltimore Ravens. “Coincidentally”, EA Sports also chose 2014 for the year of defensive upgrades and gameplay changes. They promised better AI, smarter cornerbacks, and a bigger focus on tackling. So, did these changes actually happen?

This first you may notice when starting Madden 15 is a mandatory scenario that pits the Carolina Panthers versus the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship. The purpose of this is to teach the new gameplay mechanics and camera angles. EA Sports has included an all-new camera angle in Madden 15 that allows you to play from the defensive perspective instead of the standard viewpoint placed behind the offensive line. This perspective is quite helpful when trying to figure out the upcoming plays.

This mandatory scenario may be bothersome, but it also incorporates some other important changes in Madden 15. One of these changes is the introduction of a tackling cone that helps guide you towards the perfect tackle. In addition, this cone changes coloring to indicate whether or not the player is close enough to risk tackling. This feature helps minimize the missed tackles and other errors that routinely happened in previous Madden games. Better tackles are great, but what are the other changes?

EA Sports made many promises about improving the intelligence of Madden’s AI, and this has come true. The cornerbacks and safeties have greatly increased in intelligence, and their knack for breaking up passes and getting interceptions is downright impressive. During one game against the Seattle Seahawks—playing as the low-rated Vikings—I threw five interceptions in one quarter of play, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The highest rated defenders, especially Richard Sherman, have the ability to fly across the field and stop any passes. The new pass defense is difficult to get used to at first, but it does make the time between turns on offense more bearable.

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Speaking of offense, EA Sports made some changes to it as well. Running the ball may be the exact same as it was last year (unfortunately), but the quarterback play is much better. There is a massive difference between each quarterback based on his rating, and certain quarterbacks even move more smoothly. Matt Cassel from the Vikings is slower and uncoordinated, but upstart rookie Teddy Bridgewater moves more quickly. This difference is even more evident when comparing certain passer ratings. Aaron Rodgers is exceptionally accurate and can make every throw, but other quarterbacks like Jake Locker or Blaine Gabbert are wildly inaccurate with barely any arm strength.

These offensive and defensive changes massively affect the gameplay, but what else is available apart from the standard play options? Like previous years, Madden 15 has multiple options for fulfilling a career path with your favorite football team. If you want to stick with regular players and coaches, Madden has the option to play as a team’s coach, owner, or regular player. With these modes, you can run a team, set the ticket prices, or hire/fire free agents.

For those who enjoy fantasy football, Madden has the Ultimate Team option. With Ultimate Team, you can draft a fantasy style team using packs of random cards that grant various players, stadiums, or uniforms. This mode forces you to start with a lower ranked team of fairly terrible players, but you can quickly earn better players by completing training camps, winning games, or finishing challenges. Ultimate Team is a great option for mixing up the campaigns, but it does have a downside—Ultimate Team is more difficult to get used to for the newer Madden players.

EA Sports has been working hard at mixing up the Madden formula for the new generation. Some of those changes haven’t been as effective, but it has been quite nice playing on defense with actual playmakers. Additionally, Madden 15 is by far the best-looking football game ever created. No longer do players randomly disappear into the walls or have their torsos embedded in another player. Unfortunately, the audio is not as fantastic as the graphics. Phil Simms and Jim Nantz both do an admirable job with their announcing, but they occasionally repeat lines of dialogue or get players mixed up. Thankfully, the audio is only an occasional annoyance in an otherwise great game.

Madden fans had been suffering for years with minimal improvements until Madden 15 was released. The game may not be perfect, but there are actual improvements to enjoy including better presentation, more entertaining defense, and a better passing game. Now is the perfect time to get reacquainted with the Madden franchise.


About the Author

John Newby

A random dude obsessed with coffee, blue heelers, and most nerdy things. Big fan of Star Wars, Borderlands, Arrow/Flash, and a whole lotta video games. The Saboteur is underrated, and Silverado is the best movie ever made.