EA Sports' Madden NFL 15 hits stores in North America on Tuesday, and the prominent critiques that have trickled in from around the web give the game positive reviews.
With how popular the NFL is in the United States, it's interesting to see how gamers elsewhere rate the latest from this prominent video game franchise. As it turns out, the praise for Madden NFL 15 is rather universal thanks to some notable enhancements and expanded options for users to act out their pro football fantasies.
Reviewers tend to be avid gamers, so combining the level of interest in the NFL and their unique insight creates scenarios such as the one described by Polygon's Owen Good:
Every time I review Madden I feel like I could write 5,000 words and leave half of what needs to be said out.— Owen Good (@owengood) August 25, 2014
Since this game drops just before the start of the regular season, there's always the added excitement for all 32 fanbases because no one knows exactly how their teams will fare. Madden makes the dream of a Super Bowl attainable for gamers, no matter how long the real odds appear on paper.
Here is a look at some of the top reviews on the game and what the scorers like most about the latest edition of Madden.
Alex Rubens, IGN U.S.
IGN is always an authority to watch for when assessing video games. Based on Rubens' review, Madden NFL 15 does indeed live up to the hype.
It is rare for IGN to give a perfect 10 to any game, so an 8.7 is rather high in that context. The main strengths Rubens emphasizes are the improvements to the defensive gameplay and play-calling along with the perpetual upgrade in graphics.
A new camera angle now allows the user's defense to face the opposing quarterback, where it's easier to diagnose plays and anticipate what's coming.
Indeed, EA Sports could easily rest on its laurels, phone it in and still get enormous sales from the Madden franchise, yet the company is still doing what it can to make the gaming experience better.
"After the letdown of Madden 25 last year, Madden 15 feels like a mostly fresh start for the series. ... As a lifelong Madden and football fan, I'm impressed," Rubens wrote in "The Verdict" section of his review. "This year's game is both exciting and reassuring that EA Sports isn't wasting opportunities to improve the series."
Rubens is critical of the in-game commentary and some of the physics glitches. However, at least for yours truly in the past, listening to music or a podcast on headphones while playing video games has been a nice form of multitasking.
With regard to some of the glitches, this is a video game. There are bound to be some, which is something that Rubens reflects in his score, as he doesn't dock Madden too much for them.
Trevor Houston, Canadian Online Gamers Network
Now for some international flavor north of the border. Houston was more of a fan of Madden 25 than Rubens was yet still acknowledged that Madden NFL 15 made some great strides.
Check out some of the testimony Houston logs about some of the new features:
Hardcore and casual Madden fans will notice a few sizable improvements right away. The first thing that jumps off the screen when you load up the game is the graphics. It is quite easily the best an NFL game has looked on any console. ... Secondly, the interactive experience you find yourself in when you first boot up Madden 15 places you in a fictional 2015 NFC Championship game between Carolina and Seattle and is something I have never experienced before. It was simply fantastic with only one major gripe...I wanted more. Finally, the last major enhancement this year comes on the defensive side of the ball, mainly the defensive lineman. New mechanics for the d-lineman make the game a little more true to life in that you feel like you have some control even after a blocker has engaged you.
One feature to highlight is the defensive line upgrades, which offer the user unprecedented pre-snap control.
In terms of the criticisms Houston offered, he wasn't pleased with the similarity of menus and layouts that occurred before the game. But that isn't such a big deal because after all, Madden is judged primarily on the gameplay.
Creative director Rex Dickson explains more about the "War in the Trenches 2.0" in the video below, courtesy of EA Sports:
It's easy to see why Houston was so enthused about this particular feature. The overall artificial intelligence of the defense has helped minimize the effectiveness of running plays, which amounted to chunks of yards a little too easily in Madden 25.
Another point highlighted in Houston's evaluation is the varying quarterback accuracy, which sees non-elite QBs throw off-target passes with more regularity than ever before. That was a point of focus for the game designers, per the official website.
Houston's few gripes with the game suggests that Madden NFL 15 will likely help the franchise continue to spread its influence beyond the United States, where the game is by far most visible.
Brett Molina, USA Today
A lot of the analysis in the first two reviews has been on the defense, so Molina offers a nice change in that regard. This description outlines some of the tweaks to pre-snap Madden offense:
Plays can be sorted by personnel, scheme, even concept. Players can also gain advice on what plays to run, based on the player's history, as well as the opponent's tendencies. It's a solid option for novices, but most veterans will likely stick with the straightforward schemes and run their plays.
One common phrase is that the NFL is a "copycat league," meaning that less fortunate teams will attempt to emulate how other organizations achieved success. Take this reactionary tweet from Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas following the New Orleans Saints' offseason signing of Jairus Byrd:
Copy cat league ..#NFL— Earl Thomas (@Earl_Thomas) March 12, 2014
The relevance here to Madden NFL 15's offense is that the virtual reality players can get instant feedback as to what plays work best in certain game simulations. This portrayal of situational football only adds to the increasing realism that the Madden franchise brings to gamers.
When will you buy Madden NFL 15?
Pre-snap chess matches and the intricacies of strategy and game preparation are concepts that NFL fans don't often get acquainted with watching the game on TV. Having the resources to run through an interactive simulation to see these unique dimension in action gives this video game increased entertainment value while also enhancing a consumer's football IQ.
All of this points to EA Sports finding more ways to engage loyal followers of the NFL in an engrossing gameplay interface in the years to come. Madden NFL 15 may not be a groundbreaking achievement, but it's an entry that has been met with plenty of positivity.
With the advent of next-gen consoles, much of the focus in next year's game can be on the exciting, potentially revolutionary steps forward creators can take with a year of PS4 and Xbox One under their belts.