Madden NFL 15 Review (XONE, X360)

Madden 15 is a Revolution on XONE, Evolution on X360

Madden NFL 25 Box. EA Sports

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From the moment you start the game on your Xbox One, it is clear that Madden NFL 15 is a definite step above Madden 25 which launched with the system.  The presentation is very polished and absolutely gorgeous, and as you take the controls during a highly cinematic fictional encounter between the Panthers and Seahawks in a future NFC Chamionship game, you'll quickly notice the gameplay has evolved as well.

  This is the Madden we all wished would have come out on Xbox One last year.     

Game Details

  • Publisher:  EA Sports
  • Developer: Tiburon
  • ESRB Rating: “E" for Everyone
  • Genre: Football
  • Pros:  Awesome visuals; solid gameplay; plenty of features and modes
  • Cons:  Commentary is still awful; X360 version didn't get all the cool upgrades; some changes aren't great


Madden 15 is sort of a housekeeping-type year for the franchise as far as features.  No major new modes, just careful tweaks to make the existing stuff better.  The Connected Franchise gets a "Game Prep" feature that helps you hone your skills, but also includes a player confidence stat where, naturally, the more confident a player is on a given week, the better they play.  Madden Ultimate Team also returns, of course, along with the quick play, online modes and leagues, and everything else we've come to expect.


The gameplay has seen more tweaks than the feature set, some good and some bad.

  I'm not really a fan of the vertical orientation of the play calling menus, though that is probably more due to playing football games the other way for 20+ years than this being particularly bad.  The new play calling setup does add more information onscreen about how and why you should run plays, which will certainly be very helpful for more casual fans who don't really understand the X's and O's and scribbles they're seeing.

  I'm not especially fond of the default zoomed-in gameplay camera angle but, thankfully, you can change it back to the standard look (among many others) if you like.  

Offensively, the game works like it has the last few years.  Receiver awareness is vitally important, as is taking advantage of the wealth of pass trajectories and speeds that are now at your disposal as a quarterback.  The running game is also rock solid with great (and decently realistic) blocking in the trenches as well as plenty of moves for skilled running backs to use to slip through the tightest openings.  The kicking game has probably seen the biggest improvement, as now a big colored arc appears onscreen telling you exactly how far and where your kick will go depending on the power you apply.  I, for one, really appreciate this change.

You'll need all of these offensive tricks because the defense has seen a dramatic improvement over years past.  On the defensive line, you have the opportunity to jump the snap with a carefully timed press of the trigger button (the Haptic triggers on Xbox One rumble to tell you when to go, which is awesome).  When you're engaged with an offensive lineman, button prompts appear onscreen telling you to do an power move or finesse move to potentially get around them to get to the QB (you can turn the prompts off if you want).

  There is now a sort of tackling cone onscreen as well that tells you what direction a player will leap to make a tackle, as well as their range, which is very useful.  You can also use a new defensive camera that puts the camera right behind your player, which makes it easier to weave through traffic, fight through the line, and get to the quarterback.  For lineman and LBs, this camera is awesome.  Not so much for DBs, though, as it is harder to stay in position and one little mistake can give the offense a huge gain.  Thankfully, you can switch cameras with a tap of the D-pad, which is another great feature.  All in all, defense is actually pretty fun to play for once.

Overall, Madden 15 feels better to play all around than Madden 25 (or 12, or 13) did.  The defensive A.I. is still pretty brutal, and you really pay the price for forcing throws into coverage - no hucking balls downfield and hoping your receiver gets there first like so many football games in the past - but I feel like you have a little more control over everything this time around to make up for it.  Its fun.  And that's what matters.

Graphics & Sound

Visually, Madden NFL 15 is stunning on the Xbox One.  It really puts the graphics in Madden 25 to shame.  The players look great.  The stadiums look awesome.  The lighting and weather are great.  There are also a lot more little cinematic touches and camera angles to give the game more of a TV broadcast feel that really make it look good.  I'll say it again - it looks stunning.

The sound is the same as it has been the last few years.  Great on-field sound effects and some cool chants and stuff from the crowds, but awful commentary.  Jim Nantz and Phil Simms couldn't sound more bored, which makes even awesome and epically close Super Bowls sound like a bland preseason game.  They also repeat comments way, way too often, which just becomes grating after a game or two.

Xbox 360 Version of Madden NFL 15

Have you noticed that all of the coverage, and all of the reviews so far, have been of the XONE and PS4 versions of Madden 15?  Well, that's because the last-gen version has been left in the dust.  I spent quite a bit of time with both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions, and they actually feel like two different games now.  The 360 version feels a little faster and a little more wide open versus the XONE version.  On Xbox One, the tackles are a lot "stickier", in that once you're hit or grabbed, you tend to go down.  On 360, you bounce off tackles a lot more often.  I felt comfortable playing on 360 right away, while on XONE it took a while to get used to everything.  If you want a faster paced, more oldschool feeling football game, the 360 version might be the one you want.

Something to keep in mind is that many of the fancy new features in the XONE version of Madden 15 aren't in the X360 version.  It doesn't have the crazy cinematic opening game between CAR and SEA.  It doesn't let you jump the snap.  It doesn't have the new defensive behind-the-back camera angle.  And, naturally, it doesn't have the presentational polish (though it does still look really nice).  It does bring over the new kicking indicators, though, and it uses the old horizontal play calling menu.  One negative on the 360 version, however, is that I experienced odd pauses and jankiness that got increasingly worse as games went on.  The game would just pause on the play calling menu for several seconds, or seriously stutter for a few seconds during gameplay as the game progressed.  This never happened to me on XONE.  These issues aren't a deal breaker, as they only happened once in a while (though always toward the end of games), but they're hard to ignore, especially since this problem was in last year's game as well.

The 360 version does have all of the modes and other stuff found in the XONE version, so other than some nifty gameplay tweaks it might be missing, the game is still pretty darn solid.  If I had to choose, I'd say I probably had a teeny bit more fun with the 360 version, but the XONE version is the better overall package and is just as fun once you get used to it.

Bottom Line

In the end, Madden NFL 15 is another strong entry in the franchise.  While it isn't a huge leap from last year's game on 360, it is a dramatic improvement over Madden 25 on Xbox One.  If you're looking for current gen (or next gen, whatever we're still calling it) football, Madden NFL 15 is pretty darn impressive on Xbox One.  The X360 version is a little harder to fully recommend, as it isn't nearly as big of an improvement over its previous version, but the new kicking stuff plus other tweaks everywhere else do mean it is a better game overall than Madden 25.  No matter what system you play it on, though, Madden NFL 15 is a solid game of football that most fans should be very satisfied with.  

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