The Irish response to American Football is 99% of the time “Rugby for babies” which up until now what I’ve been led to believe – even after reviewing last year’s Madden 25. Each game in every Madden always had a fifty percent divide between great tactical fun and extreme boredom matched with spongy physics. That divide being the offensive and defensive plays, while the offensive is where Madden flourishes with myriad plays and countless unforgettable tales of touchdowns and tackles. Defense was the unspoken ugly duckling over-shadowed by the immense fun Offense offered. Now almost a year into the new console cycle EA Tiburon have finally delivered on previously broken promises to deliver a more-than-tolerable Defense.
However, the much improved gameplay is still weighed down by countless other minor issues preventing us from finally getting our hands on the perfect Madden experience, from the endless JRPG stlye menus to weak commentary, long frivolous cut-scenes and an increase in bugs that makes everything in-between plays a chore.
Let’s talk Ultimate Team for a moment shall we? I love it to bits all the while hating everything about it, including myself for playing it. I felt like I left myself down, like a fell off the wagon. You see a few years back I played a game (let’s call it FIFA 13) with the same mode and spent an entire Summer gambling away my money on player packs, completely addicted craving that beautiful yet completely pointless moment when there was a golden player in my squad! Madden’s Ultimate Team rekindled my lust for digital playing cards, if you like the idea of building your team from pot-luck with the satisfaction of a slot-machine pull – Ultimate Team is for you. If you a prone to addiction…Delete your bank account details first.
Owner mode is an option for people who want a half-hearted “Football Simulator”, its layout is boring and feels like a tacked on gimmick compared to the greater defined modes, season mode once again is a heart warming tale of the might San Francisco 49s completely obliterating everything that dare oppose them all the way to the Superbowl, and online play is online play. Prepare to lose by legions of people who actually understand the mechanics of the NFL. Prepare to lose. Hard.
Boring defensive play, I hardly knew ya! Defensive play is actually quite…Brilliant! The camera is now tilted forwards, focusing on the Quarter Back who is the focus of the spotlight as you bash through the tide of burly men trying in vain to hold you back until eventually you charge the QB and either a) Choose to be professional and go for a low tackle, nothing to see here guys just doing my job OR b) Give him the mother of all sacks with a bone-shattering high tackle. I caught myself quoting Friday every time “You just got knocked the f**k out!” Although the physics engine serves for hilarious yet awkward tackles as players wrap around each other and contort in ways that would send even the most acrobatic person to the A&E.
Still don’t lose your hats just yet, defensive play is far from perfect especially in local co-op where the camera remains at the exact same position where it previously was. This particularly sucked as couch co-op is the best way to experience a game like Madden. What makes it even worse is the unskippable pre-match presentations where oddly rendered commentators rattle off for a minute about the current season, this can get really really repetitive and I came close to coming within a perfect lip-sync of them.
Choosing between plays mid-game have been segregated into two options, very easy to navigate and The Matrix. A rotating-wheel appears with 5 of the most frequent and useful plays but for the die-hard strategists there’s page upon page upon page of plays, which can be extremely confusing and discouraging to newcomers. Visuals have gotten a new-generation makeover greatly improving on Madden 25’s reskin of the last-gen models. Player animations and expressions, while at times comically ridiculous look refreshingly crisp.
In summary, Madden 15 is the American-Football experience I could recommend to anyone without hesitation, while it’s flaws are present and numerous the overall improvements over the previously taxing core gameplay and chaotic layouts greatly make for a fantastic football game. The future looks bright for Madden and that future begins with Madden 15
A Bright Future For Madden 8/10