Full disclosure: I am a new sports fan. It’s only since last autumn that I started watching. Also, I have only played one or two Madden games prior to Madden NFL 15. So please bear in mind that this review is from the perspective of a newcomer to the series and football itself.
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?! Well, maybe not football exactly, but a game about football. Sports really don’t fit video games as poorly as many would assume. Aren’t both gamers and sports fans often competitive but bad-tempered? Well, sports games like this enable a compounding of these characteristics. But just how well does Madden NFL 15 capture the spirit of football?
Graphics: 7 out of 10
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think these graphics are quite next generation. They’re a fair amount better than what I would have expected from a PS3, but the PS4 is certainly capable of better. I have read that the XOne version has better graphics, expecially in the lighting. I recently saw an online comparison, and it’s convincing. So a point or two higher for that version here?
But it’s not as though the graphics are bad. Character Models have very few flaws and the field looks like the real thing would in CGI. It’s just not all that impressive.
Sound: 9 out of 10
The theme song of this game is really good. I often find myself humming along with it when it plays. Commentary From actual announcers Phil Simms, Jim Nantz, and whoever is the Halftime analyzer is great as well. Their voices are strong, their timing just right. The only problem is that the voice actors explaining things in the training drills seem kind of bored.
Gameplay: 9 out of 10
There are training drills for newcomers like myself. They take some time to go through, but they do a good job of teaching you the fundamentals of Madden.
In the actual games they stay true to the NFL. Almost everything hapens as it would in the real thing. There are plays, defensive and offensive formations, tackles, evasions, runs, passes, field goals, you name it. You can even turn injuries on if you want. One liberty taken is that when the defense does an interception or retrieves a fumbled ball, the game is frozen as the camera turns around so both players will know immediately what’s happened. This is because it might be difficult to adjust to an instantly turning camera.
The controls are spot-on. I never really encountered any issues during the season I played in Connected Franchise. A nice bonus is the ability to go over certain plays after a game with Blu-Ray Style forward, back, and pause features. Also, you can adjust the camera angles.
Some RPG elements are in the game. The coach and players (the real guys because this game is sanctioned by the NFL) gain experience points to be spent on upgrades to their attributes. This adds some more strategy as you have to decide which beef-ups to give to which players and whether to do it now or wait a few games for the really good stuff. You are also allowed to choose a player, coach, or team owner to customize, but the choices are quite limited, especially when compared to the NBA 2K series.
One thing to note is that you can skip games in the season if you’re playing against the computer, but I wouldn’t recommend it. This will likely cause your win/loss record to suffer and if injuries are on, the chances of them happening goes through the roof! But it’s fitting since this is basically outright cheating.
Challenge: 8 out of 10
Playing offline, the computer ranges from easy to hard, depending on what you set the difficulty to. Thankfully, it’s not particularly cheap, although it does seem to improve after your first or second touchdown in a game so as to add suspense. One oddity is the margin for error. Most games force you to win every game. This one actually lets you lose a few games and still make it to the Super Bowl, as it’s got to in order to be true to real life.
Overall: 9 out of 10
I’d say that this game passes the test with flying colors. As football game, it captures the experience to a “T.” As a generic game, it’s almost everything you could ask for.