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Review

Madden NFL 15 Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed:
  • PS4
  • XONE
Jeremy Jayne on Google+

Defense wins championships.

Last year's Madden 25 didn't feel like the franchise's true next-generation debut. Inconsistent production values, holes in the passing game, and mechanical stagnation made what many had hoped to be a fresh start seem stuck in the mud. Thankfully, Madden 15 corrects the course by taking two big steps in the right direction. Firstly, revamped defensive play gives you a reason to actively participate as you defend a drive; secondly, precise attention to detail creates a more cohesive aesthetic package. Deficiencies in the passing game along with technical hiccups stemming from the game's often-comical physics still exist, but Madden 15's few missteps do little to detract from an otherwise strong outing.

Controlling the defense has felt like an afterthought in recent years, since your actions as an active defender rarely made an impact on the progression of the play. But Madden 15 focuses on making it fun to play both sides of the ball. The most immediate change you’ll notice is a camera angle positioned behind whichever defender you control. If you’re on the line, you’re asked to time your attack to the center’s snap and fight your way through traffic to take out the quarterback. Favorable matchups allow you to slink past the offense through timely button presses, and once you’ve broken through, you’re given a handy visual indicator to illustrate your tackling range. The safest route is to use the more reserved tackle that almost guarantees an easy sack, but you can also make use of the less accurate hit stick if you’re feeling lucky. This has a greater chance of popping the ball free or even causing a game-changing injury.

Jeremy Lane is rightfully proud of his performance.

If you’re looking to force interceptions, controlling a member of the secondary remains advantageous since you’re more likely to pick off a pass when you’re in the driver’s seat, rather than when trusting the AI. The behind-the-back view that works so well for a pass rusher is disorienting when you swing over to a safety or cornerback, but on-the-fly adjustments allow you to switch to the classic camera angle that’s more advantageous in these circumstances. Still, you’re more equipped to defend passes than ever before as long as long as you stay tight on a receiver, and barreling through a strong offensive line to drag a top quarterback to the ground is supremely satisfying. Systems that previously felt automated now require your undivided attention, giving you more reasons to stay engaged in all four quarters of a game.

When it comes to offensive play, the changes are more often seen than felt. The interface for picking plays has been revamped, cleaning up much of the previous clutter and giving you helpful information about suggested calls. Less-seasoned players who prefer to just settle for suggested plays often had little idea why short passes were more effective when the defense was about to blitz, or how one run play was likely to produce more positive yards over another. The logic behind the choices was hidden, but Madden 15 provides an explanation for the more casual football strategist. Coach’s suggestions are coupled with text that might mention how the opposing team is often vulnerable to a particular play during a specific down, while additional plays often used by the community show success rate and average yards gained. Experienced players will likely choose their own formation and offensive maneuvers, but taking the game’s advice is both viable and edifying.

Favorable matchups allow you to slink past the offense through timely button presses, and once you’ve broken through, you’re given a handy visual indicator to illustrate your tackling range.

The running game made considerable strides last year thanks to the improved interaction between the offensive and defensive lines, and it only feels sharper this time around. Breaking tackles, finding holes, and trucking past defenders looks and feels great, and the different attributes of each player--whether it be their acceleration or physical strength--are felt as soon as the ball is snapped. Pass plays, on the other hand, can lead to some frustrations. You have a great deal of finesse with the ball when taking control of a QB, as you’re able to throw bullet passes, lobs, and lead receivers if the coverage is tight. Receivers even make more creative catches than ever before, as it’s not uncommon to see daring one-handed grabs or long dives for passes just out of reach. But interceptions happen too often, and even the strongest receivers just don’t do enough to battle for the ball. Good defenders frequently prevent great receivers from making plays in single-coverage situations, so battling an adept secondary like Seattle's can feel like a lost cause.

The vanilla Play Now and online Head-to-Head modes are there for the exploring, and they’re the best way to go if you just some want to throw on some pads and take to the field. But Connected Franchise is quickly becoming a feature attraction, and it’s been given a bit of a facelift this year. Here, you choose between becoming a player, owner, or coach of your favorite franchise, which gives you the power to either affect the flow of individual games or get deeply involved in the team’s upkeep. The newest additions are a “Game Prep” feature and a statistic for individual player confidence. Game Prep provides different activities during a given week that give you more experience to sharpen your skills, while confidence takes into account the ups and downs even veterans feel from week to week.

Play suggestions don't just tell you "what," but also "why."

Both add variety to the routine, providing more to do as a created player before the next big game rolls around. However, some of the Game Prep drills involve nothing more than selecting a player and immediately earning the additional points without even running a play. The interactive options aren’t much better, giving you simple objectives that vary depending on the position you play. A QB might need to complete four passes against a cover 1 defense, while a receiver could be asked to catch a ball in traffic. The confidence is a nice real-world touch, but it doesn't feel particularly impactful during your Super Bowl campaigns.

Madden Ultimate Team is where I spent most of my time, but its structure is difficult to swallow. You create your fantasy team by opening booster packs bought with either in-game money or real cash. Solo challenges earn you coins and unlock full games with the possibility of greater monetary rewards, and the streamlined interface makes it easier than ever to slot in your best players to build a better team. However, the pacing of progression is too slow if you’re unwilling to whip out your wallet. Challenges just don’t earn a sufficient number of coins, so you’re left playing game after game with a team barely fit to take the field. Just throwing down a couple of bucks to expedite the process is tempting, turning what could be Madden's best mode into a microtransaction scheme.

Interceptions happen too often, and even the strongest receivers just don’t do enough to battle for the ball.

Even if you never go beyond the Play Now mode, the mechanical improvements on offense and defense make Madden 15 worth a look--as do the impressive visuals. Muscles bulge and beads of sweat spray across the turf as you drive against the opposition, and unlike in previous games, the athletes are highly distinctive. Individual player quirks, like Johnny Manziel's slippery, sporadic rushing style, are much more pronounced, and the crowds are not nearly as static as in previous years. It’s a technically stunning game, and the increased attention to detail--such as Packers fans bellowing John Kuhn’s last name as he makes big plays--goes a long way toward making this a real NFL experience.

Players still awkwardly fall over each other as plays conclude and receivers are too often outmatched by similarly skilled corners, but even so, Madden 15 is the spark that this series needed. Controlling players on defense finally feels both fun and functional, and more informative playcalling gives newer players context for the technical side of the game. 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.

The Good
Smarter defensive maneuvers make for greater individual player impact
Much improved graphics produce a more authentic experience
Running and passing the ball feels sharper than ever
Additions to existing game modes provides further value
The Bad
Receivers still don’t fight for the ball enough
Disjointed player physics lead to some clumsy animations
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Josiah Renaudin will be spending each of his Sundays over the next few months glued to his couch, cursing the deficiencies of his fantasy football team. He’s been playing Madden since he was a kid, and put time into each of Madden 15’s game modes for the purpose of this review.

Discussion

205 comments
prodigest
prodigest

Its the same game as last year!!

kj_666
kj_666

Agree with the review after a week of playing. I wish Madden would go in a more realistic type of game direction. Passing is better, but interceptions are too frequent, I'll get one in every 3 drives on defence. It's easier to just run the ball but that's no fun over and over. MUT is just a feast for micro transactions. I picked up a Rookie Legend QB and the in game money invested to turn his card into full potential was about 70k. It's a nice game if you want to grind out challenges, but isn't anywhere near good enough to what it should be. 

bg44
bg44

Having played Madden 13, Madden 25, and now this one I honestly did not notice any difference between 25 and 15. That is saying something because I will usually trick myself into buying Madden each year, but this year there is simply not enough there. There are a few superficial updates, but that is it. If you do not own 25 I would say go for it, but I personally plan on skipping this edition.

obiken
obiken

Right, I have now played it enough to say its an 8 but not what we thought for XB1 or PS4. The Free agent mode is way too hard, you have to really overpay to get FA in 15. I am more into team building than actual play like a lot of you experts. IS it worth 59 bucks, no. is it better than last year yes. I am getting drug kicking and screaming to the haters point of view, but not quite.

tts42572
tts42572

I'd honestly rather play Tecmo Super Bowl on Nintendo than the new Madden game.


Madden just frustrates the heck out of me.  I hate the franchise mode with a passion.  I hate that I have to spend an hour or more playing a single game most of the time.  I just don't want to mess around with all stuff like practice, mini-modes or whatever.  Just give me an easy way to hop into a season, play with all the teams, etc.


I'd personally love a brand new Tecmo game with updated NFL players and maybe even classic players, teams, stadiums, etc.  I loved the side scrolling, simple play style of that game...Was a ton of fun rolling up stats and easy to play with anybody.


I guess at the end of the day, I'd just like a more user friendly, arcade style game that's fun to play and Madden isn't it.


sesselrancor
sesselrancor

Dunno how u can rate it worse then 25 this game is the best madden since 05

dirtydishes23
dirtydishes23

The best NFL game seires

ESPN 2k > NFL Gameday > Madden > Blitz

scottyj0003
scottyj0003

Ok Josiah you have been playing Madden since you were a kid and give this game a 7 score? Your review of this game is garbage.. A 7? Really? Don't know what weed you are smoking but please stop because your job as a reviewer is really suffering!

MiltaJay
MiltaJay

Oh I wonder how 2K football would've looked and played right about this time.  We would've have enjoyed a far superior gameplay and don't forget the added classic teams and stadiums 2K is known for.  10 years is a long wait it's time to give 2K a chance again.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Hell, NFL Blitz is still better than Madden.

MaddenBowler10
MaddenBowler10

The only people that continue saying 2K5 is still better either haven't played Madden 15 yet or suck at the game.

GSGuy321
GSGuy321

NFL2K5 is still way better. And it's not even close.

Infinite_713
Infinite_713

LOOOOLLLLL people mad because people are saying NFL 2k5 is better than Madden(All of them). 

Just look how arcady these players here in Madden 15 move. Now play Backbreaker and look how realistically those players move(although that game was lackluster).

daabulls23
daabulls23

I think Madden in the PS2/Xbox days still played the best. Running and breaking tackles actually felt decent, not running upright with wonky animation.

mi_hung_lo
mi_hung_lo

Where we you fake a s s NFL2K fans when the game was out? Even though you fools complain about Madden now, the numbers didnt show it. That year Madden still beat NFL2K even though it was sold at retail for $19.95 and forced Madden to sell at $29.95. You fake fans never showed up but yet you wanna argue because you have nothing else to b itch about. Get a life and eat a d ick

madmax787
madmax787

The fact that 2k5 (a game that came out in 2004, 10YEARS AGO) is even comparable to Madden 15 is completely pathetic on EA's part. People can talk about "a step in the right direction" all they want. Madden is the longest football franchise in video game history. They shouldn't be off course in order to be heading in the right direction in the first place. Fact remains that 2K was able to create a far superior game, on a console that's two generations old, than anything Madden has released on the PS3/360 and now PS4/XB1. With that said I still say that the review is fair. I mean it's not like a 7 is all that great and compared to The last 9 Madden releases, this definitely is a significant upgrade. However even with all the improvements, there's still a long way to go before EA catches up to its 10yr old competitor. Scary part is that 2k5 wasn't perfect and still has a lot of room for improvement. When Maddens nfl exclusivity license runs out EA better keep their head on a swivel cuz 2k will be lapping them with their comeback debut

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

Guys you can't take this review seriously. The reviewer was getting blanked by the Vikings! Oh, go Vikings!

timthegem
timthegem

Simms and Nantz look like they're sitting on pine cones.

jstarscomm
jstarscomm

after all these years everyone is still comparing every years madden to the 9 year old game 2k5. clearly shows madden epic fail.

jstarscomm
jstarscomm

of course they don't want to iron out all of the problems with the game. its a business model. how else they gonna make money every year and keep their jobs. oh and just to comment on kevin vanord's video review, its the only choice for football so of course its the best this year and every year because there is no other choice.

crizzle2211
crizzle2211

There should be NO excuses for Madden to feel like it's "on the right track" or "Improving"

EA has OWNED all rights to the NFL for a decade since they got their asses whooped by 2k. 

I was an EA guy up till I played NFL 2k5 and my GOD, it's still better!!! hahaha, this is hysterical. 

Everyone is sliding around on the field. What the hell are you guys at GS thinking?! 

Seriously, why don't you do real reporting and talk about how NFL needs to open up the market for competition. competition only helps... why is this not being reported? 


Nevermind, EA just sent me a care basket. 

Madden is the best football game of the year!

Kosyong
Kosyong

@prodigest You sound like you haven't played the game.  It's totally a lot better than last years game.  A lot has improved but still doesn't mean there isn't a lot more they could improve as well.  I think the game is about an 8.  There are things I'm still not happy about the game, like your OL still forgetting to block the guy that is exactly right in front of him and that you can't throw behind the shoulder passes when the Defender isn't looking.  Stuff like that.  Hope they do a lot better next year but this is a good start.

dirtydishes23
dirtydishes23

@mi_hung_lo I played 2k5 when it came out and probably more than any other NFL game ...... other people just didnt wanna change over from madden........... i also played 2k3

Infinite_713
Infinite_713

@mi_hung_lo HAHA Madden got slayed when 2k5 came out. EA became desperate and obtained the NFL license. NBA 2k did the same thing to NBA Live

Dswiss
Dswiss

@mi_hung_lo thats because people didn't know how bad  Madden sucked until it was the only  game out. Madden was somewhat good when it had competition but not better than 2k

pnova
pnova

@crizzle2211 true, these websites are terrible, my guess is they don't really care about games, they just care about the money. These sites should be on gamers side and helping us get NFL 2k and other football games back, but instead they actually want us to buy madden ever year and keep giving the horrible game good reviews because they only care about the money it seems.

madmax787
madmax787

@dirtydishes23 they stopped because the year 2k5 and Madden 05 came out was also the year the existing licensing contract at the time was expiring. EA seen what 2k was capable of and knew they wouldn't be able to keep up. However EA knew they had the deeper pockets. People have to remember that 2k5 was only $20 when it released while Madden 05 was $50 bucks. So EA did the smart thing. As soon as the license expired they approached the NFL with an offer they couldn't refuse (also one that Sega's 2k division couldn't financially match). And of course like the greedy fucks that they are the NFL accepted the deal giving EA sole exclusive rights to video gaming. I guess to really answer your question of why they stopped would be to say it's the NFL's fault that 2k isn't making games anymore. EA did the smart thing. The same way 2k basketball basically wiped out EA's NBA Live product is the same way 2K football would have wiped out their long standing Madden franchise. They saw that coming and did what they had to do to save their company. The came up with a offer. NFL didn't have to accept it.

mi_hung_lo
mi_hung_lo

@pnova Dude, shut the hell up! There's no way a gaming website help you get a license that was up for sale to be free enterprise again.  EA pays the NFL 52 million a year for the license, so just sit in a corner and stop acting like a damn nerd.

Dswiss
Dswiss

@crizzle2211 I like the petition I dont get why I have to input my address.

pnova
pnova

@mi_hung_lo @pnova lol you mad because madden is terrible? how about you shut up and let me continue to express my opinion. You not my daddy or my momma. You a fake internet tough guy that nobody likes.

Madden NFL 15 More Info

  • First Released
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • + 2 more
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Madden NFL 15 delivers everything fans need to own their rivals on both sides of the field, including the most immersive defensive gameplay control in franchise history. Like the Super Bowl XLVIII champion Seattle Seahawks, you can pave your way to the Lombardi Trophy by building a stout defense fit to challenge the best offenses in the game. Fans will also experience an entirely new broadcast presentation that delivers Madden NFL game day like never before with dramatic all-new camera angles, as well as dynamic pre-game and halftime features. It’s not just football, it’s Madden Season.
    6.5
    Average User RatingOut of 42 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Madden NFL 15
    Developed by:
    EA Sports
    Published by:
    Electronic Arts
    Genres:
    Sports, Simulation, Football (American), Team-Based
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors