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Madden 15: Review, Scores and Best New Features for Hit NFL Video Game

SEATTLE, WA - JANUARY 19:  Cornerback Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrates after he tips the ball leading to an intereption by outside linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 to clinch the victory for the Seahawks against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2014 NFC Championship at CenturyLink Field on January 19, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2014

The biggest challenge for a sports video game is to get better on a yearly basis. That is something that Madden NFL 15 has managed to do in a big way.

Switching platforms to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 was probably difficult enough, but EA Sports also seemed to take the time necessary to address many areas that Madden fans have wanted to see advancements in.

Although it is essentially impossible to create the perfect video game, EA Sports seems to be striving toward that. It is often a slow and arduous process, but Madden has several new features in place that should have a long-lasting, positive influence on the franchise.

Here is a closer look at some of the best new features, as well as a review and expert score for Madden 15.

 

Best New Features

Improved Defensive System

Perhaps the most noticeable change in Madden 15 is the renewed emphasis on defense. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman featured on the cover of the game, but it is a welcome improvement that has football purists very excited.

Defense has essentially been overhauled with so many different aspects being added to the game. One of the biggest is the new tackling cone, which allows gamers to zero in on the ball-carrier and go for either the sure tackle or a big hit that could force a fumble.

Also, new camera angles give gamers the chance to have a view from behind the defense. According to NFL.com's TD St. Matthew-Daniel, that is among the things that make defense truly revolutionary in Madden 15.

For the first time ever, you're allowed to play the game from the defense's point of view using a dedicated camera, and are able to control a player for an entire snap with sufficient controls to help you make a pass rushing swim move, first down saving tackle or game-changing interception. You still have to go out on offense and put up points, but Madden NFL 15, like the Seahawks in February, places the much needed amount of emphasis on the other side of the ball.

With so much change naturally comes a big learning curve. Aaron Nagler of Cheesehead TV is one gamer who is still trying to adjust:

Luckily for him and others, EA Sports has released a tutorial video for defense in order to speed up the process:

While offense may be the main focus of those who play Madden, defense has made some great headway in Madden 15. If this improvement continues in the coming editions, then it won't be long before they are on equal footing.

 

New Play-Calling

The new defensive system is a huge change from a gameplay perspective, but Madden 15 also provides a more strategic experience for gamers in terms of play-calling.

Madden has always been good in terms of giving players as much or as little control over calling the plays as they desire. Some gamers prefer to just use the plays that are suggested for them, while others want to do everything themselves.

Those options still exist, but they have been taken to another level. According to EASports.com, the play-calling system is more in-depth than ever before as Madden 15 uses advanced information to exploit opposing defenses in the best way possible.

Players can leverage data from millions of online games with all-new crowd-sourced play recommendations. ... The improved game-flow system is not just limited to community success, but also opponent tendencies. This new data results in better suggestions than in years past, and replaces the "Ask Madden" feature.

This new feature is likely to satisfy the true football fans who enjoy playing Madden. Most of us will never be coaches at the NFL level, but a better play-calling system makes for a far more realistic experience in that regard.

 

Skills Trainer

Even gamers who have been playing Madden for years can afford to improve in certain areas. At the same time, there are also new people delving into the franchise every year, which means they need a great deal of seasoning and practice before they can feel entirely comfortable.

That is what makes the Madden 15 Skills Trainer so valuable. This particular mode allows gamers to go through a number of different drills that help in terms of understanding and execution on offense, defense and special teams.

Skills Trainer is even beneficial when it comes to learning about the game of football as a whole. It helps gamers recognize which offensive formations work against specific defensive formations and vice versa.

The mode is so comprehensive that Steve Noah of OperationSports.com would love to see something like it in other video games as well:

Since Skills Trainer has been so widely accepted and praised, maybe other gaming companies will catch on as well. Many gamers seem to believe that they are good at Madden, but Skills Trainer can help them become great.

 

Expert Scores

Madden 15 Expert Scores from Across the Web
ExpertWebsiteScore
Alex RubensIGN.com8.7/10
Matthew KatoGame Informer8/10
Brett MolinaUSA Today3.5/4
Josiah RenaudinGameSpot7/10
Richard GrishamGamesRadar4/5
Ray CarsilloEGM7.5/10
Kat BaileyUSGamer3/5
Brian MaziqueBleacher Report8.25/10
Ted SchwerzlerFanSided9/10
Anthony TaorminaGameRant4/5
Expert Scores

 

Overall Review

There were huge expectations placed on Madden 15 with the transition to next-gen consoles, and it is safe to say that EA Sports has lived up to them for the most part.

The important and most successful elements of the franchise remain in place, but several additions and tweaks have been sprinkled in to make this the best Madden video game of the past few years.

Playing defense has become more entertaining than ever before, and that makes the game a far more complete experience in the process.

Madden 15 is also far superior to its predecessors strategically, and that is something that will almost certainly continue to grow in the coming years due to the emergence of analytics.

Madden is a game that many buy on a yearly basis no matter what, and there should be no hesitation in picking up this year's version. Madden 15 grades out as an eight out of 10 with room to get even better moving forward.

 

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter

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