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The influence of the big data revolution is apparent throughout Madden NFL 15

This year's Madden title will be the first one completely designed for all current consoles, since Madden 25, the oddly-titled anniversary edition, was merely ported to the next generation late last year. What EA Sports needed to do is clean up the balance in its rendition of the game of football as well as make it more justifiable for both new and annual players to pick up yet another Madden game. Beginning with gameplay, we are finally not only offered a great challenge that doesn’t feel cheap or rubber band-like, but playing defense is now as rewarding as playing offense thanks to new and improved tweaks that give a whole new meaning to disrupting an offense. New to Madden 15 is a visual cone that appears in front of defenders whenever a ball carrier is within range of the tackle.
 
The effective range of where the cone is and when you perform a tackle leads to more consistency and fewer missed tackles, all which will improve your defense game on a whole in just one aspect. Other defensive upgrades come in the form of new mechanics that give you the opportunity to shed blocks and cause disruption to the offensive line, the ability to jump the snap or create enough diversion to make the offense false start, block steering to the point where you can use the weight of a lineman to clog up the lane or improve your chances for a successful pass rush, and much more. Adding a fresh perspective to the way you play defense you can now flip the camera around on the fly to whichever position you choose, so whether you are rushing the pass or defending against it you will now have the perfect point of view that will increase your chances of success.

 
The influence of the big data revolution is apparent throughout Madden NFL 15. Statistics are displayed in an attractive dashboard view of charts and graphs, and the A.I. helps narrow the focus to the plays most likely to succeed in a given situation. Suggested plays are designed with the current down and distance in mind and are tuned to your opponent's tendencies. I was surprised to see suggestions like "this play works 63 percent of the time on 2nd and long" and "the Jaguars call Zone Blitz 72 percent of the time on 3rd and long" next to my play choices.
 
Hardcore and casual Madden fans will notice a few sizable improvements right away. The first thing that jumps off the screen when you load up the game is the graphics. It is quite easily the best an NFL game has looked on any console. It’s sharp and impressive looking and it’s obvious the player models received the bulk of the visual upgrades. Secondly, the interactive experience you find yourself in when you first boot up Madden 15 places you in a fictional 2015 NFC Championship game between Carolina and Seattle and is something I have never experienced before. It was simply fantastic with only one major gripe… I wanted more. Finally, the last major enhancement this year comes on the defensive side of the ball, mainly the defensive lineman. New mechanics for the d-lineman make the game a little more true to life in that you feel like you have some control even after a blocker has engaged you. There are certainly many, and I mean MANY, more changes that all lean towards a game that helps push the franchise forward but the visuals, interactive experience and d-line mechanics are just three of the more significant ones that I noticed right away.
 
Look, I wouldn’t even be mad if 2K Sports weren’t offering up transcendent basketball experiences every goddamn year. For 2k14 they added a fully fleshed out story mode! Like with real character arcs and morality! And they’re competing against a nonexistent NBA Live franchise! The commentary in that game is performed beautifully by Clark Kellogg, Steve Kerr and Kevin Harlan. It weaves in and out of the gorgeous sound design with pinpoint, Turing Test-passing accuracy. Meanwhile in Madden I’m listening to a couple dudes do everything they can to talk about my running back without mentioning him by name. 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.