Madden 2015 Review

When it was first announced that Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman would be the featured athlete on the cover of Madden 15, I debated boycotting the game that I had grown to love for over 25 years. 

The last thing I needed in my life was to support a big mouth cornerback who essentially rode on the coattails of a ferocious pass-rush then made one crucial play in the NFC Championship game against a B-list receiver. (Yes I'm looking at you Michael Crabtree)

Despite my urge to forgo this year's installment of Madden, I hopped over to my local GameStop and dropped $59.99 (plus tax) and popped the disc into my Xbox One. 

As usual the game did not disappoint but with an increased emphasis on defensive play-making, it became apparent that the developers swayed the pendulum too far in favor of defensive backs. 

There are no incomplete passes in Madden 15. Any attempted pass is either hauled in by a receiver or member of the opposing secondary, which creates a feast or famine scenario for any offensive player. 

Initially the game became mind-numbingly (if that's a word) frustrating as what appeared to be easy completions were intercepted by Sherman and others with ease and returned for six points. After enduring the same issues against both human and CPU players, it became evident that the running game might help to keep defense's honest and build a well-balanced attack. 

Mastering the rushing attack came with it's share of growing pains as getting out of my own backfield became a small victory during my first few games, but eventually I was able to perfect the art of perimeter runs and bashing between the tackles. 

Once I started developing competency in the rushing attack, the play-action passing game opened up a whole new world of possibilities. The previously unstoppable defensive backs began creeping up to the line of scrimmage and reacted to run fakes, while I floated passes over their heads with Geno Smith. (Yes I know GENO SMITH).

This year's installment of Madden came with its fair share of glitches and nonsensical plays that gamers have endured year-after-year, but with some patience and careful playcalling it can be a rewarding experience outwitting and confounding both the CPU and human players alike. 

The Madden Franchise is still the Gold Standard of football video games, so here is a breakdown of how this year's version scored on my grading scale. 

Graphics: 9.5

The player models are impeccably detailed with every bead of sweat and strain of hair visible. (Not sure that this is always a good thing, but you get my point) The crowd's reactions are realistic and overview shots of the stands create a more immersing experience. 

Gameplay 7.5

If you plan on slinging the football around like you've been accustomed to in other Madden games, you're in for a rude awakening. Madden 15 puts the power back in the defense's hands (thanks Richard Sherman) as interceptions are sometimes easier to make than completed passes. If you're able to find a nice balance of run and pass, the CPU's AI seems to level off, which gives you a fighting chance. 

Replay Value: 6.5

It seems as though only 15-20 plays in the playbook actually work with regularity in this game, which creates a monotonous feeling when playing against friends or the CPU. Madden 15 has some lasting replay value, but a more expansive choice of "effective plays" would make for a higher entertainment value. 

Overall: 7.5

Madden used to be a "must-buy" for any football fan, but Madden 15's defensive-heavy gameplay and lack of effective offense make for a somewhat boring and frustrating experience for most users.  

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