Game Console's Darren Price goes all-American with Madden NFL 15 on PlayStation 4.
The second outing for Madden NFL on the new-gen consoles also marks the first of this year’s annualised Ignite-powered EA Sports titles. This’ll also be the second year that I’ve tackled EA’s digital version of American Football.
For last year’s Madden I did my best to get the general gist of the ball-game Americans incorrectly refer to as football. I surprised myself in gaining an unexpected respect for a game that I’d previously thought of as rugby with shoulder pads and a silly hats.
Madden NFL 15 isn’t for the feint-hearted. Aimed at your hardcore gridiron fan, the game is packed with stats, strategy and the subtle nuances of a game so complex that I wouldn’t be surprised if most Americans don’t really know what’s going on, either.
For aspiring NFL fans like myself, Madden NFL 15 features a massively comprehensive skills trainer full of explanations and drills. What could be a very dry tutorial - I’m looking at you NBA2K14 - is actually very satisfying and great fun. I found myself often returning to the drills for a bit of practice between games.
Last year Madden looked great, but on the PlayStation 4, this year’s Madden NFL 15 looks even better. I'd imagine the Xbox One version offers the same sort of amazing visuals as well. We are not quite there yet, but we are getting so close to being photo-real. On occasion, though, you’d be forgiven for mistaking the game for real life.
The superb graphics are complimented by the game’s outstanding TV-style presentation. With replays, post-game highlights and that all-American razzamatazz, Madden NFL 15 is one well-polished game.
It’s great to see EA Sport’s proprietary sports game engine, Ignite, really showing off its stuff. The up-close-and-personal nature of Madden allows us more technically minded gamers to really appreciate the amount of polygons that the engine can push around. It’s a phenomenal effort and really shows of the power of the new-gen consoles.
As well as a bit of a graphical overhaul, the game has been updated with this year’s player and team stats. If you are connected to the internet, player’s stats are dynamically updated on start-up as new data becomes available.
This year EA have been concentrating on the defensive game, giving players greater control of the defenders after the snap. Whilst all still a bit of a blur for me - at least I can now actually follow the ball, I was able to better block catches and have a little bit more input into the defensive play.
For a game that stops all the time and basically consists of repeatedly throwing a ball to an unfortunate fella about to be stomped into the ground, Madden gives players so many offensive options that it makes FIFA look like playground stuff.
It’s hard to get to grips with but, for that brief moment after the quarterback throws the ball, the action is just so incredibly intense. And, when you do pull of a decent bit of defending or managed to duck around the opposition and on to a touchdown, it feels amazing.
The game modes will be familiar to fans of EA Sports game. Madden NFL 15 doesn’t stray far from what has gone before. All the usual suspects are right here. There’s your quick game. And there’s the online or off connected franchise mode- which allows you to embark on an NFL career as a player, coach or owner in total control of the team.
But EA Sport’s jewel in the crown is Madden Ultimate Team, allowing players to build their own fantasy team. I didn’t find MUT as much fun as I find its FIFA equivalent, but that more to do with familiarity with the football code than anything else.
Whilst I’ve been able to pick up a play FIFA, NHL, NBA and PGA, will no worries, I’ve had to learn both the rules of American Football and how it is interpreted into Madden. It’s been challenging and I’m far from adept, but at the same time it has been so rewarding. Despite the learning curve, it’s a credit to Madden that it has managed to teach this pasty-faced pom an appreciation of the American national sport.
Madden NFL 15 looks amazing and offers up an exciting, highly polished and feature-rich game of American football. If you are PS4 or Xbox One owning sports fan and never considered Madden before, now’s the time. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.