The 26th year of Madden Football has found an excellent transition to the next generation of consoles.
Madden has never been known for noticeably significant improvements. It’s almost always been a slow transition with each game, each year adding a collection of small features to enhance the gameplay experience. While it would have been nice to see Madden take a more significant jump regarding the aesthetics (like the NHL series seems to be doing with NHL 15), the improvements to the franchise will certainly not go unappreciated.
Visually the game looks great and the improvements to the player models and presentation make the game look fitting for the graphical power the Playstation 4 and Xbox One provide.
The updated player models look slimmer and more realistic, the coaches show more expressions, and the refs move much more fluently, but some minor outstanding surroundings still hold back the true immersion of a football simulation.
The fans still look bland like the previous iterations of the franchise, and their character models are plagued by identical animations throughout the games. EA has shown efforts to improve the aesthetics though. The sidelines are now a bit more active, with actual characters that are solid entities with enhanced reactions and animations.
The presentation overall is much better than that of Madden 25. New segue scenes to the opening kick-off and second half bring a more detailed overview of the players involved and how each team is doing. With player comparisons occurring in a grander style during the long breaks, smaller updates are shown more often at the top score-bar as you play with stats like yards allowed, yards gained, and individual player stats giving you some extra info on how the game is progressing.
While the visuals of the game are improved, the gameplay itself is where the true positives come into play. With plenty new defense-oriented additions and a variety of new camera views and animations, the game itself is just more fun. Defense has undergone the most significant change they’ve received in years with a the new “tackle-cone” and a more in-depth timing aspect that gives players a boost when rushing the QB.
The tackle cone gives a more visual understanding of your player’s tackling capabilities as it highlights the best areas to position their player and the most fitting tackle to perform on the ball carrier.
When you’re not the one controlling the players themselves, the players also behave more appropriately due to Madden 15’s “Player Sense 2.0” and the improved A.I.
Safeties look to jump routes more, corners recognize the proper maneuver to defend passes more, and greater pursuit to the ball from all defensive players make the computer controlled defense a more competitive foe for the human controlled teams to take on.
With a new camera angle as well, players get a greater look at the game between the trenches and in the secondary as the camera zooms and moves to fit your placement as you defend.
Now when you take down the smarter A.I. defenses it makes it all the more satisfying as the game encourages more realistic plays and pace of game.
For those who pick up Madden that are not quite as informed about the intricacies of the game, EA Sports was sure to make the complex style more approachable with the new “skill games” that teach new players the basics of the game.
Learn the best play-style approach for each defense and the best counter to each offense as the gamemode details information regarding coverages, routes, jukes, and QB ball-placement on throws.
Even if you’re experienced with the franchise, the game modes still offer a good change of pace with some mini-games that are at worst pretty good time-killers.
EA Sports managed to create a more complex, yet more approachable experience to give all users an enjoyable experience in Madden 15.
The more in-depth gamemodes stay at their core the same. The highly popular Ultimate Team operates in about the same way it has in previous games, but some small additions look to streamline the experience. Your best possible line-up can now be activated at the touch of one button to create a quick and easy way to get straight to the action.
The most popular gamemode, Connected Franchise (which includes everything from franchises, single player campaigns, and shows some fairly remarkable changes to the pre-game play. Now included, the new “Game Prep” mode eliminates the previous practice mode and instead incorporates a new progression system that has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Game prep allows you to have a greater control over which focus you’d like your team to improve upon by giving you a limited amount of hours to spend on each individual player. You’re able to improve your team or character in two ways this time around — either with the standard experience points or the new confidence statistic.
The new confidence rating influences players’ overalls with the rating changing based on recent games, playbook familiarity, and the game-prep before each game. Teams on a winning streak or coming off a big win will have their entire team riding high with a significant improvement to their overalls and the opposite end of the spectrum occurs with losing streaks.
While the greater control is fantastic as you monitor each player’s development, the limited time per week can obstruct improving the team as a whole. Individual players get the attention, but making general team improvements isn’t quite as simple as there is no way to improve an entire group like all offensive-line starters or all defensive backs. Not a major gripe, but it’s notable nonetheless.
Overall, Madden 15 shows ample improvements that put it in a great place on the Xbox One and Playstation 4. The minor issues regarding the bland fan atmosphere and pedantic in-game issues are entirely eclipsed by the easily-approachable style, improved A.I., and fine-tuned gamemodes that make Madden 15 a must-have game for football fans, and an extremely enjoyable game for gamers in general.