American Football is an absolutely huge sport in the USA and is fast growing in popularity all over the world, with talks of a London franchise being formed within the next five years. It is fitting then that the lead American Football game for consoles is always improving and evolving with each edition. Madden NFL 15 by EA Sports is by far the best iteration of NFL gaming franchise with improvements in gameplay and graphics that make juking, trucking and throwing touchdowns one of the best gaming experiences you can find.
The core gameplay of Madden 15 doesn’t differ too much from previous iterations, you still try to score touchdowns and prevent your opponents from gaining yards, but EA have really polished up on the errors and flaws that we found with last year’s Madden. The biggest and best change that has come around this year is the new defensive camera which allows you to view the plays as a member of the defensive line would see them. This allows for much more control and better decision making when trying to hold up, intercept or sack the opponent in a vital game.
The defensive camera is a potential game changer as it gives amateur users, who know little about American Football and its many rules, a better chance at winning games either online or offline. The only flaw is that the defensive camera is not available in local matches, meaning that we have to revert back to viewing every play from over the offensive Quarterback’s shoulder, something that is not easy or very much fun.
EA have completely revamped the play calling in Madden this year, changing from the simplistic suggestion setting of previous games to actually calculating from previous games the likelihood of success of a play. For example, if you are on the third down with two yards to go, you will be given a suggestion based upon how you have acted previously in this situation. This has revitalised how you play Madden, giving the user a greater sense of control and making you feel much more involved in the offence and defence, particularly in high stress situations.
Visually Madden 15 has also vastly improved; EA’s Ignite engine makes players and coaches look far more realistic, whilst also upgrading the tackle mechanics so that each individual hit is pinpointed on a player meaning that they react faster and crumple from hits convincingly.
When playing in adverse weather conditions like snow, the pitch will change over the course of the game as more snow falls and is displaced by the hefty boots of a Tight End rampaging down the gridiron. In the background you can hear individual chants for teams when they hit a first down or score a touchdown, however, the realism stops there as the crowd seems to have been copied and pasted from a pool of about 15 well-rendered characters. It is quite disappointing to see a game that has had so much effort put into it, not put any effort into creating enough unique fans to fill up a stadium; fans that will no doubt be buying the game.
The game modes focus on online play; from connected franchise to Madden Ultimate Team, you are never far away from playing a random stranger. This is great if you like to play online against humans, but amateurs who want to strengthen their skills offline before facing a real challenge often feel pressured into diving in head first. Madden is also subject to horrible micro-transactions for the Ultimate Team in order to really develop a strong squad. Yes, you can succeed without paying a penny but this method is incredibly time consuming and you will often find yourself losing out to those who have paid extra money to get the best Quarterback.
Madden NFL 15 is by far the best NFL game ever released, but is still held back by micro-transactions and laziness off the pitch. With a new look on defensive plays and a playbook that actually updates as each game progresses, there are untold hours of fun to be had beating opponents and creating super teams whether it be offline or in an Ultimate Team.