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The improvements in NFL 15 go so much deeper than it looks

Year after year the one question everyone wants to know with Madden is simple, is it worth buying? This year that's not that easy of a question to answer. Is it a great representation of pro football? Of course, but so was last year. This year's game delivers a slightly retooled and fine tuned version of the game we saw last year, but it's frustrating that some of the franchises' nagging issues have not been resolved. If you're an NFL fan who has been waiting all year for the season, you can't go wrong with Madden NFL 15, even if it feels like a replay of last year.
Madden NFL 15 is a gorgeous game on the surface, but the improvements go so much deeper than that. This year, the major focus as far as gameplay in concerned is on the defensive side of the ball. In keeping with the theme of empowering players to make the best decisions, the most noticeable upgrade comes in the form of the all new tackle cone mechanic, which gives players the information they need to decide whether they want to go for an aggressive tackle or conservative tackle. In addition, Madden NFL 15 brings with it new ways to penetrate the offensive line, a new way to jump the snap with blitzers that puts the haptic motors in the Xbox One controller to good use, as well as a button prompt that gives pass rushers a better chance to shed blocks. Those who are more inclined to drop back into coverage will notice that zone coverage has been tightened up to make for more realistic defensive back play.
A major part of the transition is the battle at the line, the most underrated aspect of football. Using a mini-game of sorts reminiscent of quick-time events, players controlling a defensive lineman can follow a few button prompts to move through the offensive line. The system makes it easier to sack the quarterback, but more importantly, it makes players feel that the war in the trenches is not just a game of chance. Defense is enhanced by a player lock camera that zooms in on the action of a selected defender. The ball will always be in view, but the focal point is on the defensive player you choose before the play begins. Covering wide receivers with cornerbacks can be tricky, but the zoomed in perspective works well in tandem with the defensive line controls.

The new title also has pre- and middle-of-the-game shows based on real world templates, but while they are well produced, I suspect that a limited number of gamers will watch them after they spend more than one full week with the experience because the time they take up is better spent actually playing. The sound design of Madden NFL 15 has the same quality as the graphics, with carefully captured and recreated noises for the stadiums and the actual action and a lot of commentary for each play, but the soundtrack does sometimes feel a little too bombastic, more suited to a war movie than sports.
But what about the actual game? How is this year’s different than last year’s and all the year’s before? The best thing I can say about this year’s Madden is that it is all about the “D”. While it’s been long standing that Madden continuously refines the offensive line with each entry, the defensive line has always seemed a little less shiny. Sure we were able to pick our play to the best of defensive abilities, but it almost always felt like that once that selection was made; you were taken out of the game to see what happened. I know, you were able to control the defensive line, but more often than not (by even seasoned Madden players) it felt like you were button mashing until your next play.
In-match commentary has not improved much over previous iterations in the game. Although it could use some work, the new changes to the camera angles make the game that much more immersive that the commentary is no longer as much of an issue as it was in the past. That being said, EA should certainly be working on improving this lacking element of the game. In terms of game modes, not much has changed on this front. All the favourite, well-known game modes return as expected, including the highly popular Madden Ultimate Team mode. There is certainly plenty of selection available to players across the many modes included in NFL 15.
If you’re not an NFL fan you’re not going to pick up the game or enjoy it as much as I and other sports fans will. However if you are, the respect for the game shown by EA to the sport along with the massive improvements over previous titles has earned all of my praise. It’s not just last year’s title with a roster update, it’s more than that and it’s earned its place in my collection and hopefully yours as well.