Madden 15: Expert Reviews, NFL Player Comments, Team Ratings and More

Adam WellsFeatured ColumnistAugust 26, 2014

Seattle Seahawks' cornerback Richard Sherman runs on the field before an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Scott Eklund)
Scott Eklund/Associated Press

August 26 is the day that jocks and video game lovers unite for one cause: the release of Madden NFL 15, the latest iteration of the NFL simulation that sells a zillion copies every year. This year's version is also worthy of the hype based on advanced reviews from critics. 

There are always reasons to be excited about the release of a new Madden game, mostly because it means the start of football is right around the corner, but if we are being honest, it's hard to churn out a classic every single year. 

Change has always been constant with the Madden games, just as it is in the NFL. Some of the features change for the better while others were instantly forgettable, but they all speak to how committed EA Sports is to bringing the experience of football onto your video game console. 

Since we love sports and video games at this website, it's only right that we present some of the reviews for Madden NFL 15, what players are saying about it and more so you know what to expect before sitting down to play. 

Madden 15 NFL Team Ratings
TeamRating
Seattle Seahawks91
Denver Broncos90
San Francisco 49ers90
New England Patriots88
Green Bay Packers88
Cincinnati Bengals86
Philadelphia Eagles85
New Orleans Saints85
Carolina Panthers84
Baltimore Ravens84
Chicago Bears84
San Diego Chargers83
Indianapolis Colts83
Kansas City Chiefs82
Dallas Cowboys81
Arizona Cardinals80
Detroit Lions80
Atlanta Falcons79
Miami Dolphins79
New York Jets78
Pittsburgh Steelers78
St. Louis Rams77
Tampa Bay Buccaneers77
Minnesota Vikings76
Houston Texans76
New York Giants76
Washington75
Cleveland Browns75
Buffalo Bills75
Tennessee Titans74
Jacksonville Jaguars73
Oakland Raiders72
EASports.com

 

Expert Reviews

IGN Praises Defensive Upgrades

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

When you have a defensive player on the cover of Madden, it should signify that will be the area of gameplay that undergoes the most significant change. It happened in 2005 with Ray Lewis on the cover thanks to the "Hit Stick."

This year, with Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gracing the cover, the "other" side of the ball is once again the focus. In his review for IGN.com, Alex Rubens noted that it finally felt like the defense was a proactive part of the game:

You get to stare down your primary objective during pass rush, and race right toward him as soon as the play starts. 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. 

Much like the actual NFL, Madden has often been so focused on making the offenses more innovative that defensive gameplay gets the short end of the stick.

Since we saw what defense can do last year, with teams like Seattle, San Francisco and Carolina all making the postseason thanks in large part to their stout defensive play, it's refreshing to see the video game recognize that and use available resources to make it a focus. 

 

Game Informer Likes Change but Needs More of It

Mike Roemer/Associated Press

It's incredible to think of how popular the Madden video game series is considering there's a new version released every year. I mean, how many different ways are there to make a video game?

Yet EA Sports finds a way to keep feeding the beast while trying to innovate at the same time, which is one thing that Game Informer's Matthew Kato praises while acknowledging he is still looking for more:

Sports games like Madden are often chided for being too iterative, but in this case I hope we're witnessing the first steps in a larger progression. Future Maddens need to support Madden 15's additions so we don't wonder why once-prominent features haven't evolved. The series can't withstand another rebuilding year or worse—an entire console generation thrown away.

That's the problem EA Sports can run into from time to time with the Madden series. There are almost certainly a number of ideas the developers want to use and are exploring for next year already, but how much can you do before losing the spine of what made the game so popular to begin with?

Innovation is fantastic in all walks of life. However, people are creatures of habit and have a certain expectation for Madden. The foundation EA Sports is working with is strong. The frame gets a slight change every year, with this version getting more focused on defense and Connected Careers. 

 

New York Daily News Praises On-Field Football

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks takes the field for the 2014 NFC Championship against the San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Get
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The technology in today's world is so vast that it's not longer enough for a video game to just deliver the goods in the main campaign. In fact, some might argue that everything you can do online with fellow gamers is more important to a game's success. 

That's why, in an old-school way, it's almost refreshing to hear Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News give credence to just putting in the disc and playing a game of football:

With more and more QBs running no-huddle offenses, Madden 15 gives its own no-huddle a makeover, creating a system that's simple to understand and loads of fun. Call for the no-huddle after a play, and you'll rush to the line of scrimmage with a series of play windows before you, feeling just as frenetic—but yet just as in control—as Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. It's a truly addictive addition, far more satisfying than the cobbled-together no-huddles of previous years. ...

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.

When you are buying a Madden video game, the most important thing you need to look for is how the game plays when your avatars step on the field. By all accounts, this year's version is a huge step forward for the franchise and features innovative gameplay that will carry it forward for years to come. 

 

What NFL Players Are Saying

Don Wright/Associated Press

In addition to professional reviews of the Madden video game, NFL players always have interesting things to say about it. Sherman has been doing media rounds in the months since he was voted to grace the cover. 

The Seahawks cornerback, who is one of three players with a 99 overall rating and is never afraid to say what's on his mind, told Jon Robinson of SI.com in June that EA Sports screwed up by giving him a 52 rating as a rookie.

"I want to talk to whoever made those ratings," Sherman said. "I'll never forgive him."

Players complaining about their ratings is nothing new. In 2012, via Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings griped about getting a 94 rating for speed even though he ran faster at the NFL Scouting Combine than then-teammate Devin Hester, who had a 98 that year. 

Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson jokingly criticized Madden ratings guru Donny Moore about the ratings he's had throughout his career, according to Arnie Stapleton of The Associated Press (h/t Denver Post)"

My ratings haven't been very good. So, based on that, I guess I'm not a fan. But he has a hard job to do. There's, I don't know, 1,800 of us? And he's not going to make all 1,800 of us happy.

Players are never going to be satisfied with their rankings, even the one's who get a 99. These are ego-driven people, some more flamboyant than others, and they strive to be the best at what they do. 

Unfortunately, you can't please everyone. Sherman had no track record or expectations as a fifth-round pick in 2011, so his low rating that year was more than justified. He's proved everyone wrong about his ability, has been rewarded with a fat contract and, most importantly, a 99 rating in Madden NFL 15

 

Final Thoughts

While there do seem to be some minor quibbles from critics with Madden NFL 15, the overwhelming response seems to be that this is the best version of the game in years. EA Sports has gone all-out to take advantage of the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One game engines, which makes the graphics and feel more in tune with what we will see starting on September 4. 

For a series that's in its 26th year, Madden continues to deliver the goods and everything that fans expect from the most popular sport in this country. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go fire up the PlayStation. 

 

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