ONE of the longest running series in gaming, Madden has struggled for consistency of late with its annualised revisions and refinements to its interpretation of American football.
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / Xbox 360 / Playstation 3
Score: 8.5 / 10
2014, thankfully, is not a fallow year, with the latest edition finding EA in a thoughtful, challenging frame of mind and implementing some well-conceived changes to the formula.
For years, defence play has been a poor relation, with a tangible lack of control and accuracy over players tasked with stopping an opponent’s rush forward. Madden 15, however, offers some helpful aids that bring much-needed parity to the overall experience, allowing you to gauge in advance how far your lunge will reach and opt for a tackle that is either crunching or less aggressive.
Visually, the game has never looked better
Visually, the game has never looked better, with crisp and evocative recreations of star players and stadia, allied to a long overdue overhaul of the plays interface which makes matters a little bit more palatable for those unfamiliar with every nuance of the sport’s tactics. The physics engine is still far from perfect, with players occasionally going to ground too easily, but it represents a marked improvement on previous years.
For all the intelligent strategy its smorgasbord of play options appears to promote, the latest instalment continues the longstanding Madden tradition of rewarding physicality above all else. Whether defending or attacking, speed is paramount during matches, almost harking back to the early days of ISS and its prized, lightning-quick wingers. It makes for exhilarating plays, alright, but hardly incentivises tactical thought.
Chance and uncertainty
While velocity is one of the hallmarks of Madden 15, another is flow. EA’s representation of American football is now much better at capturing the ebbs and shifts in momentum during games. It is now possible, if not easy, to break out of tackles and secure interceptions and fumbles, adding a welcome element of chance and uncertainty to proceedings without turning it into a chance-based stramash.
After its disappointing first foray onto the next gen consoles with Madden 25, EA has upped its game considerably. There are a few grating issues that still need to be ironed out (and the commentary, unfortunately, is is uninspired as ever) but Madden 15 provides a clear and convincing to upgrade. It is the best version of the game yet.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
1) The new tackling options give a welcome depth and choice to the defensive side of things, but do not automatically rely on the crunching option. For the most part, a basic tackle (the A button on Xbox One) will suffice.
2) Make sure you know your quarterback’s strengths and weakness. Looking at the stats will give you a good indication of their passing ability and speed.
3) The skills trainer is an ideal way to learn the game, especially for those who may not have as in-depth a knowledge of the sport as a US audience.