It's Madden day!
With Madden NFL 15 hitting shelves on Tuesday, gaming's annual sports holiday is in full effect, and folks are clamoring to pick up their copy of the hit game. But what are you getting in this year's version? Is it worth your time, or is it just a roster update?
Below, I've rounded up several reviews from around the Web so you can make an informed purchase. You should never be anything less than an informed consumer, after all.
Reviewer: Ray Carsillo
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Key Passage: "Madden NFL 15 is still more of a step forward for the franchise than a step back. I’m glad to see EA Tiburon is trying to do more every year than just giving the game a roster update, and they’re putting real effort into the yearly adjustments with the franchise. It’s just regrettable that some of the changes they’ve made here clearly need to go back to the Xs and Os on the drawing board."
My Take: Many of Carsillo's complaints with the game come from the presentation, from the poor play-by-play to cluttered menus to poorly explained progression systems to a series of glitches that take the user out of the experience. This is hardly a surprise—for years now, Madden has struggled in the presentation department when compared to the NBA 2K or FIFA series.
It's also a bit concerning that Carsillo points out the sheer amount of drops players in the secondary still make, a problem about as old as the game itself. Still, that this complaint is his main gripe with the gameplay is a positive sign, and of the reviewers to follow, Carsillo was harder on the game than anyone else.
Reviewer: Alex Rubens
Score: 8.7 out of 10
Key Passage: "After the letdown of Madden 25 last year, Madden 15 feels like a mostly fresh start for the series. The increased emphasis on defensive play, a great new play-calling system, and the return of longtime favorites makes this year’s Madden one of the best in recent memory, even if it could still use work in regards to its stale commentary and long-standing bugs. As a lifelong Madden and football fan, I’m impressed. This year’s game is both exciting and reassuring that EA Sports isn’t wasting opportunities to improve the series."
My Take: Like many other reviewers of this year's game, Rubens spends a long time focusing on the new tweaks to defense, from the tackling cone to the fact that the perspective and camera changes when you are on defense and offers a new mini-game on the defensive line, adding depth to the experience.
This is what I am most excited about, and honestly one of the main reasons I bought the game this year. After last year's relatively stale experience, the added depth while playing defense is one of the more exciting features the Madden team has introduced in years. While I haven't had the chance to peel off the plastic from the copy I bought this year, you can bet I'm excited to take the new defensive system for a spin.
Like many other reviewers, however, Rubens also bemoans the game's poor commentary and awkward glitches that interrupt the presentation from time to time. That has been a consistent complaint about the game thus far.
Reviewer: Matthew Kato
Score: 8 out of 10
Key Passage: "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."
My Take: I picked that passage because it reflects exactly what I was hoping from this Madden—that it would be the start of a fresh new era for the game, and not more of the same. Kato seems to feel it could be that step.
Still, he has more than a few gripes with the Connected Franchise mode, from the limitations in contract negotiations to a complete lack of restricted free agents and practice squads. While this is no doubt a personal critique on his part, I tend to agree with him. Like many other players, I love building my squad in the offseason and pretending like I am a general manager.
It's role-playing, but if it lacks key features of the actual NFL offseason, it loses some of its ability to immerse you in the experience. So Kato's complaints about the Connected Franchise mode resonated with me.
Kato also likes the tweaks made to the passing game and the preparation in the passing game, namely in the improved secondary AI. He seems to suggest that passing the ball is harder in this year's game but still quite fun, a difficult balance to strike.
After all, Madden is always toeing the line between being a realistic simulation for the more hard-core fans of the sport and a fun game than more casual fans can embrace. It's a tight-rope act, no doubt, but Kato seems to think they've walked it in the passing dynamics.
That's a great sign. Unfortunately, Kato doesn't feel that balance has been found in the running game, where run blocking is still spotty. That's disappointing, as we've all throw our hands up in the air in the past as a fullback runs right past the defender he obviously should have blocked.
It definitely appears to be an aspect of the gameplay that needs to be tweaked moving forward.
Reviewer: Brian Mazique
Score: 8.25 out of 10
Key Passage: "From a gameplay standpoint, this is how video game football should be. It's the most balanced the series has ever been in that respect. That said, there are some areas of improvement from a customization and presentation standpoint that prevent it from being a crowning achievement on every level."
My Take: Mazique was more effusive in his praise of the graphics and lighting than other reviewers, who perhaps weren't blown away with how the game looked but didn't find anything bad enough to comment on outside of some wonky glitches.
Like others, he praised the passing game and the new animations in the passing game, though again the critique of the passes dropped by secondary players is troubling. He also critiqued the play-by-play, but at this point you should have zero expectations for that.
All in all, there seem to be more positives in this year's Madden than negatives. It's not a perfect game, and it's probably not even the top yearly sports title that EA produces, but for fans looking for improvements and a new era of Madden football, this title should have you feeling excited.
I know I'm pretty pumped to boot it up.