September is about to roll around once again which can only mean one thing: football season is back. The pads are being readied, the playbooks are finalized, and the players are ready to show us what they can do. But it wouldn’t be the start of a new season without the release of a new Madden game, so step forward Madden NFL 15.
The major new features this year revolve around the defense. In previous years, playing defense was a fairly uninteresting, as tackling involved running into a player, as did trying to break through the line to the QB. Basically, the majority of defense involved running into players. This year, however, things are different. New tackling mechanics, a new defensive camera, and a way of quickly reacting to the snap makes defense enjoyable.
Instantly noticeable are the changes to the defensive new tackle cone. When in control of a defensive player, a green highlighted cone will show the area where they can tackle in front of them. This makes judging the right moment to tackle a lot easier: now you have no excuse for missing the game winning dive at an opponent. The reworked tackle mechanics also give you the option to go for conservative or aggressive tackles. A conservative tackle is more likely to bring down an opponent, but aggressive tackles can possibly cause a fumble, and they look much more impressive.
The slightly updated physics engine also helps with tackling, as they now appear more realistic – as does dodging tackles. But that’s not to say the tackling is perfect, and there have been a couple of times where the slightest bit of contact has resulted in to tip to the floor, or being allowed to run through a tackle that shouldn’t have been possible. Speaking of the physics engine, the often hilarious post play pile ups are still present, but aren’t quite as bad as previous years.
A new off the line pass rush mechanic has also been introduced to give the defense a slight edge. Pressing R2 (on PS4) as the ball is snapped will result in a quick first step giving the defense an advantage against blockers. Mistime the button press and the offense will take the advantage. It’s not easy to time the press on every play, but it’s certainly worth the risk, as hitting it perfectly will usually result in a very strong defensive play.
Other defensive additions include a new camera; which stares down at the QB from a defensive perspective, some new pass rush moves to beat blockers, and new animations and logic to try and combat the slightly overpowered running QB’s from Madden 25. All of these additions make for the most realistic, and more importantly, fun-to-play defensive experience in any Madden game.
Elsewhere the play calling system has been overhauled to make it much easier to navigate. The new coach suggestions of plays on both the offensive and defensive will give you three plays that could feasibly work in the current situation. Some suggestions are based on what the opposite team is likely to do, what other players have called in similar situations and what some of your favorite plays are. The new system is sure to make life a lot easier for new players, who don’t even have to think about the play too much. For experienced fans who want to select the exact play, it’s still possible, and a better menu layout makes selecting the play a lot smoother.
The offensive side of the ball has remained largely unchanged. A few areas have been slightly tightened up, and the improved defensive AI makes everything seem more realistic.
In terms of game modes there is the standard play now and online head to head modes you would expect, along with Madden Ultimate Team and Connected Franchise. MUT has been slightly reworked to focus more on your starting team (and not about reserves), but other than that remains largely unchanged. It’s a similar story for connected franchise. The biggest new feature here is the addition of confidence to players. The higher the player’s confidence; the better they will perform. New coaching drills allow you to boost confidence or XP – some are interactive mini training scenarios, whereas other are just a case of pushing a button to improve.
Visually, Madden 15 is very impressive. Players, uniforms, and the environments all look great and react realistically, showing the extra power of the new machines. Unfortunately, the crowd remains fairly poor, but it’s not exactly a game breaking issue.
The TV style presentation returns, and continues to work fairly well. The stat graphics, half time report, and player comparisons all add to the production value, but it is let down by the sub-par commentary team who love to say it was a close incomplete pass when you spike the ball intentionally.
VERDICT: The defensive improvements make playing defense fun for the first time in quite a while. The improved tackling offers more challenge and choice while the guessing of the snap gives you something to work at when pass rushing. No longer does it feel like you are waiting for an offensive mistake, it actually feels like you can make an impact defensively. The tightening up of other systems on the pitch make Madden 15 perhaps the most simulation like entry in the series, it’s still not perfect but it’s very close. Overall, Madden NFL 15 is a great game. There are a few niggling issues (such as the still slightly dodgy physics), but the impact they have on the game is tiny.
SUPERB. This is the mark of greatness, only awarded to games that engage us from start to finish. Titles that score 9/10 will have very few problems or negative issues, and will deliver high quality and value for money across all aspects of their design.
Review code provided by publisher.