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Best Madden in years, but still lacking

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    Madden NFL 15

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    Best Madden in years, but still lacking

    Both Madden NFL 13 and Madden NFL 25 were supremely disappointing games to me. They represent pretty much everything that’s usually wrong with a game series that is stuck with an annual release schedule, and I consider them some of the worst football games that have been released. Madden NFL 15 may not be the best Madden game and it probably won’t appeal to many people besides diehard NFL nuts, but at the same time, it is a significant improvement from the last two in the series.

    Madden NFL 15’s biggest improvement comes by making the defensive side of the game infinitely more entertaining to play. In the past, being defense meant boredom. However, thanks to more realistic tackling, improved animations, a helpful tackling cone, and the ability to get a boost off the snap with a timed pull of the trigger, playing defense is no longer the snooze fest that it was in previous games.

    The game is also much more accessible to newcomers. While I don’t consider myself an NFL aficionado, I also don’t consider myself completely and utterly inept when it comes to playing and understanding the game. Those that are brand new to NFL games will find the training drills useful, and what’s better is that these mini-tutorials are set up in the guise of challenges that reward players with medals when they perform well, making what is usually one of the least entertaining parts of a game, learning how to play, a lot more fun.

    All of the training drills culminate in the Gauntlet, another new feature that I found to be a great addition to the Madden gameplay. In the past, I have criticized Madden games for lacking a personality. While that’s still mostly true here, the Gauntlet is a step in the right direction to give the series some much needed quirkiness.

    The Gauntlet reiterates the drill training challenges, but every five rounds throws in a "Boss" level. These boss levels are often very amusing, such as kicking a field goal from the opposite end of the field with the aid of hurricane-force winds, or weaving through crowds of reporters and other players during media day in an attempt to score a touchdown. Players get five lives to complete the Gauntlet, and it’s honestly one some of the most fun I’ve had playing a football game in a long time.

    All the typical modes are back. The Ultimate Team mode is more accessible than before, and a lot easier to dive into without feeling incredibly underpowered. This is mostly because you are rewarded for completing the drill training with extra packs so that you have more cards to start with. In any case, all of the main game modes return so Madden fans can look forward to having plenty to sink their teeth into with Madden NFL 15.

    One major issue I take with the game is that the presentation is still pretty awful. I’m not talking about the graphics, which are pretty good (though since the camera is zoomed out most of the time in football, the added detail is sort of pointless) or even the sound design, which is quite impeccable for a sports game with spot-on commentary. I am referring to the menus. In an attempt to have a fancy look menu system, EA has released Madden after Madden that is an absolute nightmare to navigate. So despite all of the improvements that this iteration is bringing to the table, the menus are still a hot mess.

    There are still Kinect voice commands at work, but besides that, there is no real reason to choose Madden NFL 15 on Xbox One over the PS4 version. Hell, there’s not even a real reason to get this version of the game over the seventh gen versions either. Just get it on whatever console is your console of choice. Do keep in mind though that if you have an EA Access subscription on Xbox One, then you can get bonus discounts on Ultimate Team packs.

    At the end of the day, this is still just more Madden. If more Madden is what you’re looking for, then Madden NFL 15 brings to the table one of the better iterations of the franchise, but it’s still same old, same old for the most part. The improvements here are encouraging, and hopefully next year’s Madden sees the series really take advantage of the power of the eighth generation consoles.

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