EA Sports

Madden 15 review, the smartest Madden yet

Looking back on the Madden series from EA Sports, there have been a lot of ups and downs.  Some versions have come in ahead of others, and some have been little more than a roster update. Madden 15 has a significant opportunity checking in as the first Madden game designed for this new console generation. Rest easy football fans, Madden 15 comes out like Adrian Peterson going for broke.

Right from the initial launch of the game, the new focus on presentation is more evident than ever.  Being thrown into the NFC Championship game and needing to lead Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers to victory of the Legion of Boom and the Seattle Seahawks is a nice touch.

As the situation is introduced to you, the stadium feels alive all around you.  The crowd noise is on point, the realism of the huddle is there, and the introduction to Madden 15 is underway.

Graphics come to life

From a graphical standpoint, Madden 15 is far and away the most impressive yet.  Players feel like they have life to them, and the wonky animations of players tripping or stumbling over each other seems to be gone.  As your games play out, the graphical representation of hits you have taken is evident with nicks to helmets and a wide array of stains covering your jersey.

If there is one area to nitpick at when it comes to the graphics department of Madden 15, it is that of the players scale.  Most noticeable during replays or after a play concludes, certain players seem to appear as though they are in “big head” mode.  An adjustment to the players lower body or arms could likely remedy this situation.

“With Madden 15, you are truly playing the smartest Madden yet.’

Madden 15 puts you in the game

Looking at gameplay, you will find where Madden 15 really sets itself apart from past versions.  With Madden 15, you are truly playing the smartest Madden yet.  Defenses act as though they have been coached for your game plan throughout the week, and finding the weak spot is truly a gratifying experience.  Whether looking for the gap in the run game, or targeting your receiver across the middle, the AI in Madden 15 is top-notch.

On the defensive side of the ball, the new tackling cone is not a big factor.  The new tackling system is well executed and performs well.  AI is also very noticeable across offensive players.  An Aaron Rodgers type quarterback now truly behaves and plays much differently than say a Geno Smith.  Defense has come to life, and getting a big stop is a gratifying experience.

The play call system has once again been revamped in Madden 15.  Gone is the three box style at the bottom of the screen, and in comes a more intuitive and interactive version of playcalling.  Your playbook is now a vertical three box option on the right hand side of the screen.  All of the traditional play call styles (ask coach, by formation, etc.) remain, and Community Playcalling is now introduced.

With Community Playcalling, as well as asking your coach, the playbook comes to life.  Small blurbs of information are given alongside each potential play call, allowing users some insight on the success or relativity of each play call.

Each game comes to life and feels like a new experience as you play through to victory.  The added halftime presentation is one of the small additions that truly makes Madden 15 feel next-gen.  In the Verizon Halftime Show, plays from your actual game are replayed as highlights, along with commentary and the typical statistical breakdown.  At its core, Madden 15 shines across the field.

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New ways to play

From a game mode perspective, nothing is groundbreaking, but that’s more than ok thanks to the changes that have been made.  Of course your typical play now, Connected Franchise, Skills Trainer, Never Say Never Moments, Online Head to Head, and Madden Ultimate Team modes all return.  It is however the tweaks to some of these modes that once again, elevates Madden 15 to the top.

In Ultimate Team, EA Sports has done its best to streamline the experience.  With previous versions of Ultimate Team, far too much time was consumed sitting in menus and waiting for new screens to load, those days are gone.  Whether looking to collect new sets, change-up your depth chart, or get back in the action, every menu moves smoothly and quickly.

Prior to the launch of Madden 15, we looked into how differently Madden 15 would allow gamers to utilize cards in Ultimate Team.  Though the changes to how each card handled options was difficult to explain, we can assure you that it has been executed flawlessly.  Being able to dictate how you want to deal with each card all from one quick menu is a great touch.  Madden Ultimate Team just keeps getting better.

“Game prep isn’t a groundbreaking new feature, but it is enough to bring you another level of realism across your Connected Franchise.”

In Connected Franchise, the biggest change for Madden 15 is the new game prep option.  With game prep, you are able to either focus on weekly upgrades with a confidence boost, or long-term player upgrades through gaining XP.  The application of game prep and aligning your strategy with your player development is a great touch.  Game prep isn’t a groundbreaking new feature, but it is enough to bring you another level of realism across your Connected Franchise.

Verdict

In Madden 15, EA Sports took everything good about real life NFL action, and brought it to the video game world.  Madden 15 truly feels like a next generation game.  Everything from the impressive ability of the AI on both sides of the ball, down to the beautifully crafted stadiums and individual players has Madden 15 running toward the end zone.

While there are some small issues, as a whole, Madden 15 is a very good collection of its parts.  While not reinventing the wheel, and making a ton of major tweaks under the hood, EA Sports has vaulted Madden 15 back to the top of the class when it comes to sports video games.

Pros

  • Incredibly graphical detail, both in environments and actual players
  • The new level of AI ability is truly amazing
  • Each mode has been tweaked just enough to make it near perfection

Cons

  • Players appearing out of scale or with big heads is a little distracting
  • The new kick meter is somewhat difficult to master

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Tags: Gaming Madden 15

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