My review falls in line with that concept, as I gave the game an 8.25 overall. You can read the in-depth account here. In a nutshell, the gameplay is vastly improved.
The passing game has seen the most improvements, but defensive gameplay has also seen a big jump as well. There are some notable omissions, including the ability to customize draft classes, and a few weird animations, but all things considered, it's a solid football simulation.
While the reception to the game has been mostly positive, there are reviewers who weren't impressed with this year's effort.
US Gamer's Kat Bailey is one of them. She wrote: "Madden can last hundreds of hours depending on how invested you get in its flagship Connected Franchise and Ultimate Team modes. Most people will win the Super Bowl and move on, though."
Hmmn...it's hard to agree with that statement. There are hundreds of thousands of people who not only play Madden but specifically play Ultimate Team. It's hard to validate a statement that implies most people won't get into the mode.
Just played my first ultimate team game of madden 15. Im in love❤️— Baller482 EA Sports (@baller482daboss) August 21, 2014
Per Sonali Basak of Bloomberg, Electronic Arts estimates that it will make upwards of $50 million on Ultimate Team alone. Someone is playing this mode...a lot.
Bailey's score was a three out of five.
A slightly more positive take came from Josiah Renaudin of Gamespot. Renaudin says:
The feature set remains fundamentally unchanged, but each of the core modes have increased in breadth and decreased in clutter, making it easy to dig into features that might have seemed too dense from a distance. Madden 15 looks sharper than ever, but its biggest achievement is its dedication to improving core systems that have held the series back in the past.
It's true most of the core principles of the Madden series haven't changed. That's good and bad. It would be nice to see the game open up the customization aspects of the series for fans who have been clamoring for more control for years.
On the positive side, this is football, and there's only so much that can be done with the game. When there's too much tinkering, we end up with over-the-top games like Backbreaker that were too ambitious and not centered on football enough.
As ringing endorsements go, Ben Silverman of Yahoo Tech says: "The best-selling sports franchise of all time earned that honor by listening to its players, and while Madden NFL 15 once again plays it relatively safe, its new-found love of defense, terrific play-calling, and overall accessibility puts fresh paint on the field. We are now ready for some football."
I'm not sure I'd call the play-calling terrific.
Conceptually, the amount of options are cool, but the menus are a pain. Trying to navigate between formations is more cumbersome than before, and that's not good when you're trying to call a play against the play clock.
Is this an issue most gamers will adjust to? Probably.
For those who are still undecided about buying Madden 15, you may have to play it for yourself. Perhaps renting it from Redbox or GameFly will give you the access you need to make an informed decision.
For this avid sports gamer, it's a must have, even with its imperfections.
Follow Brian Mazique aka FranchisePlay, the Sports Video Game Journalist on Twitter.