Published on September 6th, 2014 | by IceCube
REVIEW: Madden 15
Summary: The annual dose of Madden football is back in time for the start of the NFL season and I should probably start this review by revealing that I know and enjoy American Football as well as anyone. But I haven’t really enjoyed the up-and-down Madden games since 2010 and it’s only getting worse.
Concept: EA’s persistent push towards “online functionality” is both misguided and irritating and runs rampant in this latest game. It pushes online fantasy football games, online franchises, online news, online updates, online downdates and online who gives a ****. It also pushes stupid novelty gimmicks like trading card decks where you open packets of “random” players to place on your roster. Good grief… Looking at the rosters, many of the player ratings are simply uneducated and way off, and the rosters are never accurate to current team, even when they get updated online every week, and they can simply Google the real depth chart. Each year, this game also “dumbs-down” everything, from play calling, to team management, treating the gamers like they aren’t capable of making their own choices. What EA thinks you should do will hammer you at every turn.
Graphics: Madden 15 is looking better. One thing you can’t deny from an evolving game is the refinements to visual aesthetics, particularly as we jump from last-gen to curren-gen consoles. The facial work is still a little behind other sports games on most players, but are improving year-on year. We also give credit to the game presentation, which is finally catching up to ESPN NFL 2K5 (yes, that game 2K made in 2004 before EA stole full rights to the NFL). The key player video bios as they enter the field are particularly noteworthy.
Gameplay: This game uses the same physical engine introduced two seasons ago and it’s still incredibly buggy, with loads of glitches already going viral, including flying players and shrinking players. At times, human limbs move in incredibly unnatural ways, and at times, bodies bounce off tackles at incomprehensible angles. The focus on Defense this year is good though, and battling on the Defensive line is fun due to the fact that you can break through the line with well timed button taps. Like everything in Madden however, these are old features, re-introduced as “new features” after inexplicably removing them seasons ago in the first place.
Sound: Sound is as good as you could ask for in a football game. The player chatter is good, the new music is both refreshing and dramatic in cutscenes. The crowd cheering is loud and atmospheric, and the commentary is good too (despite getting repetitive after a while).
Awesomeness: Each year I have high hopes that Madden will turn a corner, but it’s closing in on ten years since I last got stuck into an American Football video game, despite trying it every year. I’m searching for better management tools, less cradling and more independent control, but we’re getting the opposite. Give the Madden rookies “arcade mode” or “play now”, and the vets a decent franchise mode. Right now it feels like the big choices with this game are being made by people who don’t know football, as evident with the sloppy rosters, depth charts and ratings. It needs a massive overhaul from a fresh pair of eyes without any influences from the previous games.
Final Word: The focus on Defense is good, as well as the presentation, which is getting more like watching it on TV every season. The gameplay, however, is so clunky and disfunctional that I’m not sure the new tackling engine introduced two years ago is any better than the previous one. Some further tinkering can solve the gameplay issues for next season, but the UI, team management, and gameplay needs to be completely overhauled from scratch, with people who are deeply passionate about the sport making the management calls.
Score out of 5 bugs