Madden 15: Analyzing Game Reviews and Top Player Ratings

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Madden 15: Analyzing Game Reviews and Top Player Ratings
John Froschauer/Associated Press

Madden 15 is the latest edition of what has become an absolute institution.

Football fans who are craving anything pigskin by late summer have spent billions of dollars on the franchise over the years, and that momentum will likely continue this year. One thing of particular interest anytime a new version is released is the updated player rankings. 

Here is a look at the top player from each position, courtesy of EA Sports’ official website:

Top Player at Each Position
Position Player Team Overall Rating
QB Peyton Manning Denver Broncos 98
RB Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings 98
FB John Kuhn Green Bay Packers 93
WR Calvin Johnson Detroit Lions 99
TE Jimmy Graham New Orleans Saints 97
OL Joe Thomas Cleveland Browns 98
DE J.J. Watt Houston Texans 99
DT Ndamukong Suh Detroit Lions 97
MLB Patrick Willis/Navorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers 96
OLB Von Miller/Aldon Smith Denver Broncos/San Francisco 49ers 96
CB Richard Sherman Seattle Seahawks 99
FS Jairus Byrd New Orleans Saints 96
SS Kam Chancellor/Troy Polamalu Seattle Seahawks/Pittsburgh Steelers 93
K Matt Prater Denver Broncos 95
P Brandon Fields Miami Dolphins 96

Video games are usually all about offense. In fact, the very phrase “video game-like numbers” was coined to describe a player or team that puts up outrageous offensive statistics, a la the 2013 Denver Broncos. However, as can be seen above, there are plenty of incredibly talented defensive players in this year’s version.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Some of the credit for that should go to the Seattle Seahawks, who won the Super Bowl on the back of a shutdown defense.

Richard Sherman graced this year’s Madden cover, but he tried to get his teammates in the coveted spot, via Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports: “I've been trying to get the Legion of Boom on the cover, and EA has been fighting me. So if everybody wants to start a petition to get the Legion of Boom on the cover, here it is, here's an open invitation."

The Legion of Boom may not have all gotten on the cover, but no strong safety is rated higher than Kam Chancellor, no cornerback is rated higher than Sherman, and only one free safety is rated higher than Earl Thomas III at 95.

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Players who go against the Seahawks will have difficulty moving the ball through the air. Gone are the days when you can simply be the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals or other teams with elite receivers and lob deep passes to Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald.

In fact, with the Seahawks loaded defense and Marshawn Lynch (95 overall) and Russell Wilson (93 overall) leading the offense, Seattle will be incredibly difficult to beat in Madden. It only seems fitting for the defending Super Bowl champs.

Another thing of interest when Madden games are released is what the reviewers think of the latest version. With that in mind, let’s take a look at blurbs from a couple of reviews in particular.

Game Reviews

Brett Molina, USA Today

*The full review can be found here.

The last time video game players witnessed Electronic Arts' signature pro football game transition to new devices, it was about as ugly as a wobbly toss of the pigskin. It was short on features and lacked technical polish.

Fortunately, the shift to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One has gone more smoothly, as shown with the release of Madden NFL 15. Unlike those early releases for console predecessors PS3 and Xbox 360, this year's NFL video game boasts stunning looks, impressive depth and mostly consistent action on the field.

However, Madden NFL 15 does lack that one significant feature that sets it apart. Instead, players get a series of smaller improvements to bolster the experience. But it seems EA is better suited to managing the growing pains that come with the shift to new hardware.

In addition to his overall positive review, Molina applauds the game for focusing on defense. Defenders under player control have a cone representing their vision and can press one button for more aggressive or conservative tackles, while those under computer control play with more intelligence, which comes in handy in zone schemes. 

Again, good luck moving the ball against Seattle with a higher artificial intelligence.

Ebenezer Samuel, New York Daily News

*The full review can be found here.

There’s a defensive player on the box cover and a handful of defensive players on the opening game screen.

And yes, that should tell you something about the new Madden 15, EA Sports’ latest NFL video game. This year, the legendary football franchise is getting defensive. And that helps create the most well-rounded Madden yet.

But it’s easier to look past any latent issues, because so much of this Madden is actually truly improved. It’s Year 2 of the franchise’s next-gen era, and EA is delivering a truly next-gen NFL experience.

Combined with several new presentation features, the on-field Madden action is better than ever. Visually, the game takes a massive step forward in 2014, starting with more accurate player faces. A host of players – including Super Bowl MVP Russell Wilson – are stunningly recreated, something that the game highlights by using plenty of close-up camera angles as part of a more TV-like presentation. 

But the on-field action is where it all starts. And for everything that Madden 15 doesn't quite get right this year, EA makes sure that on-field action is as good as it's ever been.

Ebenezer Samuel applauds the defensive focus as well, especially the new controls that allow the player to flip the camera and take the defender’s point of view instead of the quarterback’s. It’s not all about defense, though, as Samuel points out the no-huddle attack is much more refined in this year’s game and allows more control over the playbook.

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

There are some criticisms in his review about the commentary and the “solid but not spectacular” nature of the Connected Careers, but the overall game play, new in-game features and visually stunning presentation are simply too much to overlook.

At the end of the day, playing Madden is all about what happens on the virtual field. Yes, other features are nice additions, but the core idea of the game in the first place is playing video game football. This year’s version has made the actual experience on the field better than it has even been. 

Once again, EA Sports delivers on its tagline, “It’s in the game.”

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