Monday, 29 September 2014

Madden NFL 15

I remember back in the day playing John Madden Football '92 on my Sega Megadrive. Back then I watched a bit of American football when I could on TV, but never really got into it. Regardless, the name John Madden carried a lot of weight, so this was the only American football game I ever played. Of course, rather than playing it seriously, I always ended up dicking around. My favourite thing to do was to injure a player, wait for the ambulance to drive onto the pitch, and then get a few of my players to run into its path. However, instead of the ambulance stopping and moving out of their way, it would smack directly into them, complete with a delicious Whack!-Whack!-Whack! noise. I loved it, but as transitioned to the PlayStation era, I stopped playing Madden completely, up until last years release. I liked last years Madden 25, but found it lacking in various areas. So when the latest Madden title came up for review, I eagerly decided to give it a go, hoping EA sorted out a few of the problems that plagued Madden 25. The name John Madden may not carry as much weight as it used to in the 90's, but seeing as the series is still meant to be the pinnacle of American football in gaming, well, I expected quite a lot.

Developed by EA Tiburon and out now for PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One comes Madden NFL 15, another great entry in EA Sports' worldwide domination of all things sports related. There was a time where EA were really slacking off when it came to their EA Sports titles, but in recent memory they've been doing a much better job. With franchises such as PGA Tour, FIFA, UFC and NHL all at the top of their game, it looks like Madden is following in their footsteps.

First off, visually Madden NFL 15 is superb, and perfectly nails the look and bone crushing power of a real NFL match. Thanks to a great physics engine, tackles feel authentic, whether their small nudges that send your player off balance or heavy, hard hitting knocks that take you out completely. This attention to detail is also apparent through the recreation of some of the more famous NFL stadiums out there, as well as the inclusion of non-scripted celebration moments and Jumbotrons. The commentary included features over 80 hours of recorded dialogue between commentators Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, and despite some pieces of dialogue popping up far too often, it's varied, enjoyable and authentic. Madden NFL 15's blend of awesome visuals, superb sound design and nuanced physics effectively make it the most authentic NFL experience out there, outside of watching a match on TV, of course.

Madden NFL 15 is slick, really slick, in terms of the presentation of its play options. Let me put it this way; I'm more or less a complete newbie when it comes to American Football – I don't play it, watch it or play many of its games. However even for someone like me, choosing a play during gameplay is incredibly easy and simplistic. You can edit plays depending on what you're trying to accomplish, but EA Tiburon have put in place quite an impressive system that suggests plays that cover almost every situation you'll find yourself in.

Though I didn't play much of Madden 25, I found playing in defence to by an incredibly overlooked and often useless element to the game. You had to essentially wait for the opposition to screw up to even get a chance at being useful. EA Tiburon has changed this in Madden NFL 15.  This is mostly down to the new defensive camera angle implemented here, which leads to playing defence now being a true game changer, rather than a position that solely relies on button bashing and smacking opponents. This feeling of being more in control runs throughout Madden NFL 15 when compared to its predecessor. EA have clearly wanted it to make Madden a more hands-on, kinetic and physical experience. They have succeeded.

Overall Madden NFL 15 is an utterly authentic experience. Whether you decide to merely play as a player, a coach hiring and firing players or even an owner managing the money of your selected team, it's a well-rounded entry into the franchise, and most likely EA's best attempt yet at replicating the action of the NFL.

Madden NFL 15 gets a touchdown with a 5/5.


Denis Murphy

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