|Platform||XB1, PS4, 360, PS3|
EA’s sports-game staple for more than a quarter century returns with Madden NFL 15. Representing America’s most popular sport in the digital realm, Madden sees players guiding one of 32 teams to the top of the heap through a grueling 16-game schedule and several rounds of playoffs. You can also take the fight online and talk smack with your buddies as you forge dream matchups on the gridiron.
Madden seems to go into a funk every few years where the differences between each annual iteration start to become less and less obvious, and the pigskin sim is definitely in one of those ruts now. That said, three new focuses stand out for the folks at EA Tiburon this year.
The first is a playbook option where the AI will explain why you should run a particular play in each situation. This is meant to help teach newcomers the game’s ins and outs, like why you’d run on a first down or why a curl route would do well on third-and-five. Another major change players will see this year is the presentation. More robust pre-, post-, and halftime highlight shows will be available as you run through a given season.
The third is the one that bothered me the most. Although you can turn it off in the options, in order to try to simplify playing defense, a new “tackle cone” has been instituted to help players know when they should try to take a guy out at the knees or they can run over him with a big hit. Come on guys. If the “QB Vision Cone” of years past couldn’t catch on, what makes you think it’s going to work with every single defender now?
In the grand scheme of things, though, these are minor additions or options. Most people who play Madden know football and will run whatever play they want. They don’t need a computer to explain anything. And most of us know how to tackle. Honestly, this feels like a desperate reach toward a new audience while possibly alienating the already strong fanbase. Overall, there’s really nothing to get excited over—but nothing major to knock, either.