I must admit, I had an obligation to return to the franchise in regards to reviewing it. The game has been out for a year, and the newest installment is right around the corner. Reviewing it now, seemed like a complete idiocy, but that's where I usually ground myself in. Not to mention, I have went almost ten years in reviewing these games. I felt as obligated to return, as EA is to making a Madden game every year. So, here we are...
EA's Madden 15 is the best Madden game they have made in quite a while. Right? You're probably as stunned as I am just hearing that. Now, calm down. The shiniest, newest turd on the lawn still doesn't discredit what it really is deep down, a turd. EA's tried and true rinse and repeat formula is at work again, with a very familiar Madden game, left relatively unchanged minus some enhanced graphics, some gameplay tweaks, and some minor additions.
Graphically, the game, in regards to it's predecessors is one of the better looking Maddens, but in terms of visual quality compared to other AAA titles, it is quite lacking. Character models are still stiff during their animations, and colors are too saturated. Make no mistake while playing this, this is NOT The Witcher 3 (I'm not sure how you could make that mistake, if you did, drink another, you're playing Madden after all). The game still suffers from clunky physical animations that can make tackles seem incredibly predictable, and artificial. You never really feel a big hit like you do if you saw it in person, or on television. However, stadiums are really well rendered, each looking visually different, including some city backgrounds that look neat. Nothing special, but it's a nice topping to the sundae.
The core gameplay, the actual Football is the best it's been at for a while. Running lanes can be there for a single moment, and disappear if you miss it. The passing game can be extremely efficient, but hides some of the game's biggest problems in both receiving mechanic, and defending mechanics. The motions continue to look clunky, especially during hit detection moments. Defenders guess on routes, never actually turning their head to the Football, yet are able to make a play on it. Defense can be fun to play, although you will have moments where someone like JJ Watt will be squared up, prepared to make a tackle, and get bulldozed by the likes of Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is the man, but really?
Game modes continue to suffer, all but Ultimate Team, that usually sees the most updates, and improvements. No surprise there, as UT is a huge after the fact money maker for the company. Buying packs of cards is both lucrative, and extremely easy to do, and something gamers continue to buy into. It's a silly system, that while fun, carries little merit, and loses entertainment value when that team you worked so hard to build gets engulfed by someone with three Jerry Rices. Franchise mode in sports game is my most played feature, especially in 2K games, that seem to really hone in an almost RPG element of gaming. Madden doesn't try to add anything here, minus a few coats of fresh paint as in Twitter updates (really?) and some training related features that can be completely avoided (which I do). The online mode, head to head specifically, is pretty fun to play. Mostly because, the AI in Madden is extremely standard, and entirely predictable. Head to head allows you to keep guessing, and stay on your toes. Although, it will be abused by people who love to run Johnny Manziel into circles (children, let the men play Football, like men.)
Finally, in my ranting and raving, I come to another EA weakness. Another inability that EA continues to market like it is some sort of strength. The game's commentary. So unnoteworthy, so boring, and borderline idiotic. Often you will have sequences of audio that do not match what you are actually doing in game. Phil Simms will call something, and just address your player as Quarterback, when you are playing as PEYTON MANNING (one of the most recognizable figures in sports). These frustrating things take me out of the game, so quickly.
After all this ranting and raving, a 6 seems pretty high, doesn't it? I would be lying if I said that Madden wasn't entertaining to me. Even though I had the most fun going head to head with friends, and learning from them to make myself better, I did have fun. The game has so much room to be better, especially with it being in the next generation of gaming. It still feels phoned in, and Madden 16 looks to not be any different.