For far too long, fans of EA Sports' Madden franchise have complained about how the series is getting long in the tooth, with barely any changes to justify buying the game year after year. Of course, that doesn't stop them from doing so, but EA Tiburon just delivered a solid indication that, yes, it's actually listening to the criticism. And the proof is Madden NFL 15.
While the game does have some setbacks that will be discussed in this review, it's a big move forward for the series, especially on next-gen consoles, as it actually feels like a much deeper affair than before. It's hardly the ultimate game of football, but it shows tremendous growth, and for fans, that's an interesting factor in itself.
Minor improvements have been made across the board when it comes to making the game more authentic. Tacklers, for instance, will be able to activate a "cone" that allows for better efficiency in nailing a carrier or, better yet, a quarterback, opening up the opportunity to jar the bar loose for a fumble or recovery for an end-zone run.
Quarterbacks, too, have the ability to "chew the clock" or perform a number of other plays to make their passing more dynamic, although, like the real game, it depends on who you're playing as. Sure, Manziel's good, but he can't keep up with Peyton Manning just yet, so that's the way he plays. Not a bad thing.
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Also, being able to break free from linesmen on the defensive front is excellent, as you can tap a button in an effort to let loose and chase after the QB before he throws up the ball. It's not entirely a success, as sometimes you'll fail at the tap game, but it's fun to try regardless.
The only real flaw with Madden's new game is that the AI is a little too spry for its own good. Defensivemen can occasionally break free from the line and nail your quarterback all too easy, and when you're passing, defenders tend to read receivers a little too well for their own good. Fortunately, you can adjust sliders in the game so that it isn't so notorious, though pros might want to leave the settings where they lay.
As with previous Madden games, NFL 15 comes chock full with plenty of modes to choose from. Connected Franchise makes its return, complete with an array of new options, such as being able to build Confidence in players and using attributes and XP points to strengthen them up, or round out your team overall. The thought of running a front office may not be every football fan's dream come true, but the option's there for those who want to take it — and it's good stuff.
Ultimate Team also makes its hyped return, bringing plenty of cards to collect as you attempt to build your dream team and eventually make a run against others. It can be time-consuming, and some cards are a little more expensive than planned, but overall, it's a wonderful mode for would-be collectors looking to get everything.