What the heck is a third down?
It is commonly stated that the Madden series is the same game every year, and while that may be true, I think I can offer a unique perspective on Madden 15. You see, I haven’t played a Madden game by myself since 2003 on the Playstation 2. I may have played a game or two with my brother over the years but never seriously, and never alone. I’m not the biggest football fan, in fact, I didn’t even know what a first down was until I started this game. The fact is that during the last Super Bowl, my wife watched the game and I played Dark Souls.
The argument could be made that I’m not the best person to be reviewing this game, and I would have agreed before I played it. However after spending about 14 hours with the game I can say that going in with a fresh perspective may have made me enjoy the game more than I would otherwise.
"However after spending about 14 hours with the game I can say that going in with a fresh perspective may have made me enjoy the game more than I would otherwise."
That isn’t to say that the “same game every year” reputation is unearned, after 26 entries into the series and being a game based on a real sport with set rules, it makes sense. Games like Blitz and Backbreaker try to mix it up by being more of an arcadey experience, but without NFL licensing who cares? People want to play as their favorite teams and players, simple as that.
If you’ve played Madden in the last few years the gameplay of Madden 15 is going to be standard fare. EA has been putting emphasis on defense this year, which many have felt was a lacking aspect in the series. After talking it over at length with Madden fans, I get the feeling that the changes are largely superficial. They don’t actually change the dynamic all that much. Added to that are the new camera angles for the defense, which seems like a larger improvement to me.
With that said, I can’t help but feel like having an alternate view for the defense after 26 entries is pretty poor. The problem is that Madden has no competition, and it has stifled the growth of the series since 2004. Unfortunately this wont be changing anytime soon so players looking to play a football videogame have no other option.
" EA has been putting emphasis on defense this year, which many have felt was a lacking aspect in the series. After talking it over at length with Madden fans, I get the feeling that the changes are largely superficial."
The tutorial in Madden 15 does a pretty good job of explaining mechanics and concepts to new players. I can honestly say that I would have been completely lost without it, and it made the game seem more accessible than it has been before. I remember sitting down with my brother in Madden 10 and being so overwhelmed with the mechanics that I didn’t have any fun at all. I asked him if there was a good way for me to learn the game and he just chuckled.
I spent most of my time with the game playing a connected franchise with my own created player. I started off as a late round draft pick QB with low expectations on the Texans, but quickly outranked the old QB in stats by the end of the first season. I didn’t make the playoffs that season but the experience I gained was invaluable. I learned the strengths and weaknesses of certain plays and certain players and shaped my strategies around that.
Going into the second season I was pretty pumped up. I had the game simulate the off-season so I could get right in and start playing. My performance was night and day compared to my first season, and my player was noticeably better at certain things due to having been leveled up with EXP gained. I eventually went 12-4-0 and won the AFC Championship, which meant I got to play in the Super Bowl.
" The tutorial in Madden 15 does a pretty good job of explaining mechanics and concepts to new players. I can honestly say that I would have been completely lost without it, and it made the game seem more accessible than it has been before."
Unfortunately I didn’t win the Super Bowl against the Vikings, but the score was 27-31 so it was pretty close. If only I could have pulled off that last touchdown from the 10 yard line… But I digress. This was an extremely fun experience to have with the game and the feeling of being an underdog coming up and getting to play in the largest sporting event in the USA? Probably one of the best gaming moments for me so far this year. But I am reminded by the fact that for long time fans, this feeling has become commonplace or non existent at all due to franchise fatigue. Its certainly not a new thing for the series by a long shot, and I was only affected this way because I haven’t ever gotten to a Super Bowl in Madden before.
Like most EA Sports titles these days, Madden 15 has a mode heavily based on monetization through micro-transactions. I won’t go on a tangent about the damaging nature of such things in a full priced title (especially in an annualized series) right now because this isn’t the place for it. However the mode is pushed on the player in most of the load screens, and can even take an advertised spot in up to four of the menu spaces at any given time. This is the most uncomfortable thing about it, because it almost felt like they wanted me to play that mode more than the main game. You can imagine the reason why that might be the case.
" Like most EA Sports titles these days, Madden 15 has a mode heavily based on monetization through micro-transactions."
Overall Madden 15 seems like its exactly what you would expect to get from a new entry in the series. A few upgrades here and there, new roster lists, and prettier visuals. When it comes down to it, I found it fun to play when I was in a game. The menus are kind of a mess and can be somewhat confusing for newcomers, but they are easy enough to learn.
Unfortunately the experience was a bit soured by the relentless pushing of the Ultimate Team mode. Bottom line is, if you haven’t played Madden in a few years it might be worth checking out again on the new consoles, but if you are someone who bought the last entry and are satisfied with that, maybe wait.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.
Extensive tutorial is perfect for teaching new players how to play the game, Added defensive camera angles make playing defense easier, Pre-game and Half-time reports are a nice addition, Worthy graphical update for the new consoles.
Somewhat muddled menu system, Micro-transaction heavy Ultimate Team mode is uncomfortably pushed at the player and the prices are insulting, Commentary tracks repeat too often and vague references to “This Coach” and “This QB” can seem impersonal and artificial.
Bottom line is, if you haven’t played Madden in a few years it might be worth checking out again on the new consoles, but if you are someone who bought the last entry and are satisfied with that, maybe wait.