It’s that time of year again, no not football season but a season that can go on for years and years…Madden Season! I’m sure you saw the ads featuring Kevin Hart, Dave Franco and a bunch of NFL’s best players who do that kind of thing but now its time for you…me…and everyone else to weigh in on EA’s annual football sim. This years game has changed some things and axed other things and I will touch on most of those during this review, so without further ado…lets get to that part…the review…Madden NFL 15.
When Madden NFL 25 came out for Xbox One last year, I wasn’t too keen on a few things. One thing that bothered me was the fact they had EA Gameface for the 360 version of the game but took it out in the XBOX ONE version of the game but kept it for FIFA. I can say that they kept that feature out in this game on Xbox One, not sure if they kept it in for the Xbox 360 version but no one really cares at this point. It’s probably for the best as well-being that in EA UFC and even in the last set of EA Sports games before this year, Gameface was encountering some issues. From players reporting that their player was a different race to my personal favorite, no pupils. However, it still sucks a feature like that didn’t make it in even if it’s not a big loss to the game. My second issue as we’re getting all the negatives out of the way now, still some hiccups in gameplay. There are still moments where your running back trips because he literally runs into the back of his blocker.
The other thing with gameplay is that the A.I. while on Defense is great…they do their job. On Offense playing as one player handing it off to the running back is a different story. I have watched a few running backs blindly go where most SMART running backs stay away from but visit rarely for a brew or two. Also, this may seem a bit unrealistic, but during a connected careers game the starter is shown talking to the coach…even when he’s not the quarterback or whatever position in the game. That shouldn’t happen in preseason it should be showing your player talking to the coach (in the case mine would be a QB) to sell that fact that he’s coaching you as a player that’s currently in the game. Which leads me to the other in-game blunder, fumbles and recovering them. I’m not a fan of getting lucky coming up with a forced fumble, the a.i. seems to get lucky a lot even when my player has obviously ran to the ball and decides there are better things in life than winning a football game. By that I mean not picking the ball up like he should or when I dive to recover…it just doesn’t happen. While all of that happens, the guy on the ground magically ends up with the fumble without moving an inch….I wish this were fixed. Last thing is the halftime report, while a great addition to the presentation outside of looking at Jim Nantz and Phil Simms at the beginning of every game however Larry Ridley may not be my cup of tea for recaps of what happened in the first half.
So last year a lot of things were night and day between last gen and current gen Madden. I can say for sure the same applies between last years game and Madden NFL 15. For instance, the presentation on Madden NFL 15 is far better with the exception of Larry Ridley and with the NFL Films and broadcasting style during each game it makes you feel like you are actually watching a live football game. This ranges from QB walk ins after the kickoff to mid-game analysis of a player who has had an off game or is having a great game. I feel this helps emerge players into the game instead of feeling like they are just controlling the destiny of their team. This leads me to gameplay, while it has been the same for the most part in past years…it has changed in this years game. By change I mean even I who was used to the controls of past years games had to drop many habits that were associated with using the analog sticks. You still use the analogs to move your player and all that jazz, but you no longer use them to execute finesse or power moves while on defense. I also have to mention that you still have the use of the hit stick. This leads me to the other thing I like about this game, it has a skill trainer that will help you learn the new game controls so you don’t feel like a complete rookie while playing this game. Comes with a ton of challenges and the setting is as if you are at training camp. Which you kinda are if you are there to LEARN!
Other differences you will find in Madden NFL 15, new play call screen. I like this for two reasons, it’s crowd sourced (Meaning it pulls feedback from the community) and it feels more strategic. I should really say that with some of the new ways to call plays, it makes you feel like you are actually going through an NFL Playbook instead of flipping around trying to find the best play out of each set to use or exploit. For instance, under “Concept” there are a ton of plays split into many categories, split into many different play calls. Like the famous “OMAHA” which we heard a lot of during the 2013-2014 NFL Season from league MVP Peyton Manning. You will finally find out what that means when you play Madden. There are also two ways pick your plays, quick (which will remind you of the gameflow feature) and enhanced (which gives you a more detailed look at your playbook). If you want to see your plays three at a time, enhanced is your best bet because the old play call screen is not available in this game. Which leads me back to gameplay which I am a fan of this year, mainly because the A.I. is smart enough to recognize the flaw in offense or defense. Corners and linebackers stick to their assignments or if they can’t handle it they actually hand it off to the nearest player in the area. I’ve seen this happen on quite a few occasions and that leads me to the one thing that was promised…different throws and effort catches. Yes, the days are over when you throw the ball perfectly every play and score, and so are the days of throwing the ball near your wideout or within distance of a defensive back and they just let it fly by. If the ball is in reach, they will go for it. If you are being pressured, your throws will NOT be as accurate as last year. Throws on the run will also be affected by this as well, meaning no more running outside of the pocket to make plays when your QB can’t throw the ball on the run or is under pressure.
Lastly, the Connected Career mode has some improvements that are for the best. They introduced Game Prep to this mode as a new way to train your players ahead of every game you play if you are a coach/owner. This is optional and there are settings for you to go through the whole experience of playing through the mini-games or having them simmed. The second option being best for players (like me) who don’t really want to go through the grind of doing these mini-games and hoping right into a game instead after selecting what they wanted to prep. This feature is available on and offline, and even if you are playing as a QB or whatever position, it’s there to improve your player in Connected Careers. The other thing that has been changed in this mode is Free Agency, we’ve gone from just trying to sign players to bidding for them to a more advanced way of bidding for players. There are factors what we encountered a little in Madden NFL 25, however in 15, those factors are huge when signing players during Free Agency. These factors like Play Style, Playing For A Winner, etc. come into play big time and I like the challenge. This means you can be smarter with your Cap Room and go after players you KNOW will sign with your team based on where the bars lie.
*A copy of this game was provided to us by EA Sports for the sole purpose of this review*