'Madden NFL 15'
From: EA Sports
Who it's for: Those who are ready for some football!
Console: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3
To some people, football season means a time to sit in front of the television with a cold beer, a bag of chips and remote control.
To gamers, the remote gets replaced with controller, and we drive the action.
"Madden NFL 15" marks the first time the 26-year-old franchise has been programmed primarily for the new generation of consoles. You can tell when you take the field that more time and care was put into the character models and animations.
The action has never looked so good, even though the rest of the graphics — specifically the figures on the sidelines and those in the crowds — could use a fresh layer of paint.
One you actually start playing, you will find a "Madden" game that boasts some notable improvements, even while stumbling in some familiar places.
The emphasis this year is on defense. In the past, little attention was paid to roughly half the ballgame. Defense was serviceable but never spectacular, coming down to picking the right plays more than controlling the action.
"Madden 15" contains a plethora of new moves. You now can dial in an aggressive pass rush, causing quarterbacks to scramble out of the pocket and run for their lives.
Or, if a rusher breaks across the line of scrimmage, bring him down with a picture-perfect, open-field tackle. Just watch that celebration since you don't want to draw an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty.
There's even a new defensive camera that faces the quarterback and lets you better see your ultimate goal: the sack.
This isn't merely a bunch of new character animations that make it look like the defense is reacting like never before (though those animations are certainly there). This is real control, with the option to power your way through a blocker, or finesse your way past him, depending on whom you're controlling.
These new additions, while not perfect, work surprisingly well to breathe new life into the game on both sides of the ball. It makes the simulation feel more complete and gives you a reason to practice your defensive formations. Now, if Robert Griffin III rolls out and rushes for 20 yards, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Unfortunately, the care placed in revamping "Madden's" defense meant the offense went largely unimproved this year.
The running game, which received quite a bit of attention in last year's "Madden 25," remains the same. And though it is still decent, there was necessary and expected polish that didn't happen in the off-season.
It's still far too difficult to move behind your blockers and find the hole you need for that big gain. The computer doesn't seem to have an issue when playing against you, so why do my own blockers fail to finish their assignment and get out of my way?
Play-calling, though improved from last year with a new contextual system that suggests plays, remains too shallow. EA needs to find the balance between this and the deep dive through menus to access your full playbook.
The package still contains all of your favorite modes, such as Connected Franchises and the Madden Ultimate Team, with some subtle improvements to both.
Connected Franchise mode now sports Game Prep, allowing would-be coaches to earn experience points for their players, improving stats and getting ready for that last-minute substitution.
There's also a new Confidence statistic that rates players from 1 to 99 based on their performance, team wins and losses, consistency and more. After all, a player with more confidence is going to perform better in the long run.
As for the Ultimate Team, "Madden 15" simplifies the process by removing the reserve deck and concentrating solely on your main team. It's still great fun to collect cards and build the, well, ultimate "Madden" team.
All things considered, "Madden NFL 15" won't disappoint those looking for a complete and enjoyable football simulation. While many people were hoping for a little more out of what's essentially the second new-gen iteration of the franchise, it is at least a step in the right direction.