Madden 15: Release Date, Top Player Rankings and Review Roundup

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistAugust 24, 2014

Aug 15, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) warms up before a game against the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into its sophomore season on next-generation consoles, Madden 15 is like a player who showed promise in his rookie season and threw fans into a frenzy when considering what the future holds.

If the reviews that continue to roll in are any indication, there is no sophomore slump for the sports video game juggernaut.

Generally speaking, Madden and other sports franchises tend to hit a speed bump during the leap to new hardware, but EA Sports has dodged the proverbial bullet by zeroing in on where it matters most—the field itself.

Below, let's take a look at the release info, the all-important player ratings and some excerpts from various reviews to paint a portrait of what this year's iteration of the game has to offer fans.

Madden 15 Info

Release Date: Aug. 26 (North America) and Aug. 29 (Europe)

Platforms: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, XBox 360 and XBox One

Madden 15 Top Player Ratings

Top Quarterbacks Team Rating
Peyton Manning, DEN Denver Broncos 98
Aaron Rodgers, GB Green Bay Packers 98
Drew Brees, NO New Orleans Saints 96
Russell Wilson, SEA Seattle Seahawks 93
Top Fullbacks Team Rating
John Kuhn, GB Green Bay Packers 93
Mike Tolbert, CAR Carolina Panthers 92
Marcel Reece, OAK Oakland Raiders 92
Anthony Sherman, KC Kansas City Chiefs 90
Top Running Backs Team Rating
Adrian Peterson, MIN Minnesota Vikings 98
LeSean McCoy, PHI Philadelphia Eagles 97
Jamaal Charles, KC Kansas City Chiefs 97
Matt Forte, CHI Chicago Bears 95
Top Tight Ends Team Rating
Jimmy Graham, NO New Orleans Saints 97
Rob Gronkowski, NE New England Patriots 96
Vernon Davis, SF San Francisco 49ers 94
Jason Witten, DAL Dallas Cowboys 93
Top Wide Receivers Team Rating
Calvin Johnson, DET Detroit Lions 99
Brandon Marshall, CHI Chicago Bears 96
Andre Johnson, HOU Houston Texans 95
A.J. Green, CIN Cincinnati Bengals 95
Top Offensive Linemen Team Rating
Joe Thomas, CLE Cleveland Browns 98
Evan Mathis, PHI Philadelphia Eagles 97
Josh Sitton, GB Green Bay Packers 97
Trent Williams, WAS San Francisco 49ers 95
Top Defensive Ends Team Rating
J.J. Watt, HOU Houston Texans 99
Robert Quinn, STL St. Louis Rams 97
Cameron Wake, MIA Miami Dolphins 96
Calais Campbell, ARI Arizona Cardinals 96
Top Defensive Tackles Team Rating
Ndamukong Suh, DET Detroit Lions 97
Geno Atkins, CIN Cincinnati Bengals 96
Gerald McCoy, TB Tampa Bay Buccaneers 95
Kyle Williams, BUF Buffalo Bills 95
Top Middle Linebackers Team Rating
Patrick Willis, SF San Francisco 49ers 96
NaVorro Bowman, SF San Francisco 49ers 96
Luke Kuechly, CAR Carolina Panthers 94
Derrick Johnson, KC Kansas City Chiefs 91
Top Outside Linebackers Team Rating
Von Miller, DEN Denver Broncos 96
Aldon Smith, SF San Francisco 49ers 96
Justin Houston, KC Kansas City Chiefs 93
Lavonte David, TB Tampa Bay Buccaneers 93
Top Cornerbacks Team Rating
Richard Sherman, SEA Seattle Seahawks 99
Darrelle Revis, NE New England Patriots 97
Joe Haden, CLE Cleveland Browns 95
Patrick Peterson, ARI Arizona Cardinals 93
Top Free Safeties Team Rating
Jairus Byrd, NO New Orleans Saints 96
Earl Thomas, SEA Seattle Seahawks 95
Devin McCourty, NE New England Patriots 94
Eric Weddle, SD San Diego Chargers 94
Top Strong Safeties Team Rating
Kam Chancellor, SEA Seattle Seahawks 93
Troy Polamalu, PIT Pittsburgh Steelers 93
T.J. Ward, DEN Denver Broncos 91
Eric Berry, KC Kansas City Chiefs 90
Top Kickers and Punters Team Rating
Brandon Fields, MIA Miami Dolphins 96
Matt Prater, DEN Denver Broncos 95
Andy Lee, SF San Francisco 49ers 95
Robbie Gould, CHI Chicago Bears 93

Note: All Madden 15 player ratings courtesy of

Review Roundup

Aug 7, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) before the preseason game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It is plain as day from reviews that EA Sports spent its offseason on the hunt for a more balanced approach to gameplay.

Fans will recall that recent iterations of the franchise seemed to overly mimic the sport itself in that the passing game for each team was ridiculously potent no matter who lined up under center. Fans could make the New York Jets' Geno Smith—who completed 55.8 percent of his passes and threw nine more interceptions than touchdowns last year—look like Peyton Manning. 

That does not appear to be the case anymore thanks to a performance improvement on the defensive side of the football. Brett Molina of USA Today elaborates:

Defenders not under player control have improved intelligence, regardless of whether they play man-to-man or zone defense. The best defensive players in the NFL shine more brightly—such as Sherman, who is very tough to pass against (unless you have difficulty settings dialed down).

Obviously, right? Seattle's Richard Sherman is on the cover of the game, after all.

But the improvements to defense also come via some tweaks on offense. Will Brinson of CBS Sports notes that the Geno Smiths of the world will be just that on the virtual landscape:

"Pass inaccuracy" might sound like a bug but it's now a feature: the idea being the less accurate a quarterback is in real life, the less accurate they should be in virtual life. Jake Locker is going to miss on short passes more often than Russell Wilson in real life and that's now reflected in the game, no matter how good a player you might be.

To top it all off, the art of the tackle itself is now completely up to those who hold the controller, rather than a bevy of per-rendered animations after directing a virtual player to the ball-carrier—animations that diehard fans surely have down to memory at this point.

Instead, tackling itself is a strategic endeavor, as Alex Rubens of illustrates:

Fighting your way through the offensive line with the mashing of the face buttons is an exciting charge.

Then, if you manage to break free, you actually get to control how your tackle attempt plays out. It isn’t just about running at players and hitting them. You can choose to tackle high or low, and even modify the intensity of your hit. It’s all contextual and built toward being more realistic. This is increasingly important as the wonky physics system introduced in Madden 13 is still present, though slightly more refined.

For those who would put a lot of stock into visuals and the overall presentation package, Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News provides some insight:

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.

Gameplay reigns supreme for aficionados of the sport, but casual fans and beyond can also appreciate an accurate recreation of various broadcasts of the real thing.

Thanks to the horsepower afforded by new consoles, EA Sports seems to have made the appropriate upgrades in this department, too.

The Verdict

To paint in broad strokes, the general consensus seems to be that EA Sports has done right by fans, especially when it comes to the on-field action.

More importantly, though, is that Madden 15 provides a nice foundation for future iterations to build on, as Molina muses:

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.

While some game modes seem to lack in the depth department, it is hard to argue with the approach EA Sports has taken to a new generation. The play itself matches the real thing first and foremost, so everything else can come in time.

Fans in search of a virtual representation that mirrors the real thing will enjoy this year's edition of the game.

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