Review: Stellar Defense Gets ‘Madden NFL 15’ a Tough Win
Are you ready for some football? EA Sports certainly hopes so, because it’s ready to give you some football, just as it always does at the end of August. It’s Madden season, as it was last year, and the year before that, and so on.
Releasing a new version of a sports game every single year isn’t easy — or necessary, really — but the folks behind Madden go for it anyway. Occasionally we see a game-changing mode or feature, but typically new Maddens are more about millions of little jukes than big, bawdy Hail Marys.
So it should come as little surprise that Madden NFL 15 (releasing Tuesday for the Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, and PS3) is, in most of the important ways, a lot like last year’s Madden NFL 25 (named for the 25th anniversary of the franchise, numerical consistency be damned). But alongside the usual upgrades are a few standout enhancements that make this the most accessible Madden game in ages.
It’s fitting that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is on the game’s cover, because Madden NFL 15 is all about defense. Tackling is much more intuitive, for instance, thanks to a little cone that pops up when you take control of a defensive player. It makes it significantly easier to time tackles, leading to fewer cases of diving randomly in the wrong direction.
Defense has been improved at the line of scrimmage as well. Pressing a trigger right at the snap gives your player a boost; tap the correct button and you’ll glide past blockers with a clear path to the QB. While vets might find it all a little overbearing, the empowering of defensive lineman gives what’s traditionally been a stagnant part of the gameplay a much-needed burst of energy.
Things are less thrilling on the offensive side of the ball, which plays largely as it did in Madden 25. But improvements to the pre-snap game come in handy, especially a nifty little wheel pointing out mismatches. Is your All-Pro wide receiver lined up against a rookie? You’ll see that at a glance and can try to take advantage after the hike.
Both sides of the ball benefit from a deeper play-calling system. In addition to general Madden suggestions, a new crowdsourced “Community” page crunches online player data and spits out a selection of popular plays. The game backs up its top suggestions with cool details like “success percentage” based on the down and yardage. It’s a slick combination of stat-tracking analytics and ease of use, and while vets can also dig down into each team’s playbook to find favorite plays, the new system is a boon to newbies.