When the wildly popular Madden series of games first made its debut on next-gen consoles, the result was a big swing and a miss. While the series was in dire need of innovation and a fresh look, the next-gen debut was plagued by some critical gameplay issues, less than stellar production quality and not enough new content to justify a leap to the new game. In the wake of this problem, the developers seem to have gone back to the drawing board, and it’s great that they did. Madden 15 is a huge improvement over its predecessor, and it mostly manages to make up for the bad taste left by the previous game. It does this by making two major changes – a completely fresh approach to the defensive gameplay, and more attention to the tiniest details that make a great game.
While there are still holes in the passing game, an unfortunate inheritance that has made it through from previous games, the overall package is still a lot better in Madden 15. You’ll also have the occasional unintended comic moment that stems from some ridiculous physics errors. In previous games, there was very little reason for you to proactively take part in defending a drive. This made the defensive part of the gameplay almost seem like a last-minute addition, something that the developers reluctantly put into the game because they wanted to make it a simulation. You could basically leave your defenders on autopilot and it wouldn’t make too much of a difference to the final outcome.
The Game Play:
Here, in Madden 15, playing defense is as much fun as playing offense. One thing that you will immediately notice is different, is that now you actually get a visual change when you’re playing defense. The camera now snaps to a position behind whichever defender you are controlling. If you manage to get control of a defender who is on the line, you can push and shove and dodge your way to the opposing team’s quarterback and take him out if you time it just right. It’s a quasi-quicktime event, because you get a series of button press indicators on screen, and if you follow along to the letter, you can worm your way past the crowd of opposing players. Once you’ve done that, you get an indicator which shows you how far your player is able to tackle. There are two types of tackles you can use. One is a less flashy tackle, but has a high chance of getting a sack. The other, flashier tackle is less accurate, but can cause the ball to be set free, and even inflict an injury.
If you want to intercept a pass, you’re better off controlling a member of your squad yourself than putting your faith in the AI to pull off a perfect interception. While the camera angle snaps back to the same one that you use for a defensive maneuver, it isn’t nearly as effective when you’re looking to snap a pass from mid-air. However, you can quickly switch camera angles to go back to a more comfortable one and try to pull off an interception. This kind of detail is visible in multiple areas of the game. A lot of the mechanics and processes that happen during the game which were dedicated to the AI before this game, are now in your control. This makes the feeling of immersion stronger, since you have to take charge of both offensive and defensive gameplay.
The offensive play has been given a new coat of paint as well. The interface has been improved, and now you can pick plays and make strategic decisions in a more accessible manner. And now, the game actually tells you why or how each of the calls you make work. In previous editions, people who weren’t too knowledgeable about the sport would just blindly select the options the game provided to them without knowing why those particular plays worked in a certain situation. Here, the game gives you more information and gives you more strategic power to carve out your own unique playstyle. The different suggestions given are accompanied by facts, statistics and success rates. While the more experienced players will still make their own choices, it’s handy to have this information given to you.
The running portion of the gameplay was already impressive last year, and it’s even better this time around. Finding holes in the opponent’s defense, breaking through tackles and ramming through defenders is viscerally satisfying, and looks fantastic on screen. The players all have their unique strength and speed attributes, and you feel them when they collide with each other, or outrun each other.
If you’re not in the mood for a long season and want to get into the action immediately, you can choose the Play Now option, or just head online and find an opponent in the Head-to-Head mode. The Connected Franchise, which is quickly becoming a USP of the series, also gets some improvements this time around. You can take control of your favorite franchise as an owner, oversee their progress as a coach, or head to the field yourself as a player. You now also have a “Game Prep” feature which is a lead up to each individual game, along with indicators for player morale. Game Prep features drills and other activities that improve your skills, and the confidence meter is a simulation of the highs and lows of a professional player’s career.
Whether you’re a newbie or an experienced Madden gamer, Madden 15 has got a lot to offer. The refinements to both offensive and defensive gameplay now put you in the midst of the action much better than before. The graphics are fantastic, and the players look true to life. Limbs and muscles react naturally when players tackle or collide into each other. Each of the player models are more recognizable this time around too, and if you follow the sport, you’ll spot your favorite players immediately. Spectator chants are varied and distinct, depending upon which stadium you are playing in. Sometimes, the game slips up and you’ll have the odd unnatural trip or tackle that defies the laws of physics, but this is a minor quibble. Madden 15 is a much-needed shot in the arm for the franchise, and if you’re a fan of the series, this is an absolute treat.