Madden 15 Review Part 1: Presentation and Gameplay

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Choose to play a game, and Madden veterans will feel right at home. The basic mechanics for running and passing remained unchanged, meaning there will be little-to-no learning curve on the offensive side of the ball.

The play-calling screen in Madden 15 has been tweaked. Plays are now stacked vertically instead of horizontally, but the change is simply cosmetic. The “new look” doesn’t interfere or  enhance play-calling in any way. Plays can still be sorted by formation, personnel or play type (inside run, quick pass, etc.).

In addition to this, plays can also be sorted by “concept,” which is an extension of the skills trainer discussed on the previous page. Just pick the four-verticals concept, and all plays in your playbook that have four deep routes are there for you to choose from.

One result of this new way of sorting plays has been that online gamers seem to be relying less on “money plays,” and instead running a wider variety of plays that use use specific route combinations. So rather than using Single Back-Dual Cross over and over, gamers are using six or seven different plays that use the mesh concept.

Once a play is chosen, another new feature becomes available. Holding L2 brings up the coaches wheel, a tool shows key stats of selected offensive and defensive players. This allows you find mismatches in personnel that can be exploited to your advantage. If you see Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson lined up on a 5’9″ cornerback, you can expect him to come down with just about any pass thrown in his direction.

The year-to-year pendulum on running inside or outside being overpowered has finally settled near the middle. A good mix both, and including adding in some play-action, is the best way to have consistent success on the ground.

The biggest change that comes to Madden 15 can be found in the controls of the defense. The days of just getting your defender close to the ball carrier and pressing the dive button ended two years ago when Madden rolled out the infinity engine. Now they’ve also eliminated the ability to just mash the R1 button as a defensive tackle in order to get pressure on the quarterback.

Instead, rushing the passer is now based on timing button presses when icons appear over the players head. Do it right, and the defensive lineman will shed their block. How quickly the icon appears,and the speed that it much be tapped to successfully shed the block, are determined by the power- and finesse-move skills of the defensive player, and the blocking skills of the offensive lineman.

In theory, this is a good change. It introduces an element of skill required to control defensive linemen. In doing so, takes away the biggest crutch that novice gamers would lean on, and thus pushes them to improve. Unfortunately, that isn’t entirely the case.

The true result is that certain defensive linemen are now massively overpowered. Players like Houston’s JJ Watt and Seattle’s Michael Bennett are now unblockable when controlled by a skilled player, even more so than they are in real NFL games. This is true even on the highest skill level settings, and can lead to frustrating games when these players are on opposing team’s roster.

Any discussion of this year’s in-game Madden action would be incomplete without including this laugh-inducing glitch.

Overall, this year’s Madden provides an enjoyable experience that is reasonably-well balanced and feels more like the real NFL than any previous version of the marquee franchise. More importantly, Madden 15 is very fun to play, no matter your skill level.

All pics in article are screenshots taken from the PS4 version of game.