Average User Score: 5.7Nov 2, 2014NBA LIVE 15 is a game which ultimately proves difficult to evaluate for a host of reasons. Should it be evaluated compared to its predecessor,NBA LIVE 15 is a game which ultimately proves difficult to evaluate for a host of reasons. Should it be evaluated compared to its predecessor, NBA LIVE 14, a game which was miraculous in that it even saw release to store shelves after EA SPORTS' hiatus from NBA titles since NBA LIVE 10? Should it be evaluated in direct comparison to its competition, NBA 2K15, the standard for NBA simulation gameplay which has built up a sterling reputation in recent years (server quality being a lone failing)? In truth, NBA LIVE 15 feels like a game that knows better than to attempt to step up against the reigning king, but this awareness does not extend to the retail MSRP, which suggests that it is an equal value to the competition. The reality of NBA LIVE 15 is that it is a competent "change of pace" game for those who want a different take from NBA 2K15 or for those players overwhelmed by that other title's hardcore simulation, but it is hard to argue that the title is worth full price this year.
Depending on your background with basketball and NBA video games, NBA LIVE 15's on-court action will either engage you or leave you wanting more. As somebody who is not a basketball die-hard, the inclusion of a tutorial in this year's game from Day 1--something that NBA LIVE 14 was sorely lacking--helps the on-boarding process, though it's hard to overlook that it really only trains offensive gameplay and doesn't address defense. Offense feels competent enough--the right analog stick dribble moves are fairly user-friendly, even for novices--but the game seems content to reward three-point shooting over more complex play calling. On defense, steals seem overpowered in their effectiveness, while it can feel as though the offense has free reign when driving to the paint and especially in boxing out for rebounds when playing against the CPU AI. This year's game introduces shooting feedback to let the player know how successful they are at timing the release of a jump shot, and information under the player indicator helps provide instant feedback on whether the ball-handler is in a high-percentage scoring range and whether their shot will be contested. These help the gameplay experience, although it's still possible to score on sub-optimal releases that are contested just as much as it is to brick a shot with better release.
NBA LIVE 15 also introduces physical interactions in the paint, although at times it's hard to see these in action because there are visual glitches and animation interactions which don't appear to play by the rules of these new physics. Players can also warp around the court at times and the ball and limbs will pass through other players' body parts with enough frequency to disrupt the immersion and frustrate the experience. The game also uses on-court graphics to display play-call setups, but even in the game's "Rising Star" mode (the single-player career option), going to the circles still fails to trigger continued play-call instructions more often than not.
Visually, NBA LIVE 15 has benefited greatly from an extra year of work, with NBA players and especially the superstars looking more accurate in-game compared to their real-life counterparts. Players like LeBron James, who looked like rough approximations of their true selves in NBA LIVE 14, now come much closer thanks to EA SPORTS' dedication to advanced facial scanning technology. As mentioned in gameplay, however, players still tend to lack full physical tangibility, and the best scanning tech in the world can't compensate for players passing through each other and morphing into one another.
The ESPN NBA presentation package returns, though it is disappointing that this year's game also fails to organically present highlights of big-time plays as they happen. Pushing in the left analog stick after a play is the only reliable way to get in-game highlights, and these lack the style and visual pizzazz of a real-life NBA broadcast or the presentation found in competitor NBA 2K15. The NBA has a strong character and visual identity that does not show through NBA LIVE 15's broadcast package.
Despite other shortcomings, NBA LIVE 15 has a well-stocked game mode suite, including its take on EA SPORTS' popular Ultimate Team mode as well as single-player and team Career options, the ability to play along with the current season, and the ability to re-live or re-write big moments from real-life. Despite the number of modes offered, however, their depth is still lacking in direct comparison to the competition.
NBA LIVE 15 is a fun game of basketball that has value and and appeal to a particular audience; in this way, it is an achievement to be celebrated compared to last year. However, it is still not on the same level as NBA 2K15 despite sharing a price point. If NBA LIVE 16 continues an upward trajectory, we may well see next year's game give full value; for now, waiting for a price drop is advised.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.3Nov 17, 2013With the previous generational transition in mind, there was certainly reason to approach Madden NFL 25 on PS4 with a “wait and see”With the previous generational transition in mind, there was certainly reason to approach Madden NFL 25 on PS4 with a “wait and see” perspective. For all the hype invested, no actual gameplay camera footage was made available in the marketing push until the consoles made it out into the wild, leading many to speculate that the game would not live up to expectations.
For the most part, the new gameplay elements come into play as advertised. “True Step” player motion is noticeable almost immediately, as the range of “jerky” player control is limited even more. The result is gameplay which feels more grounded in reality, since it’s considerably more difficult to make sweeping directional changes without the player taking the appropriate amount of time to adjust to that new heading. Once you overcome the learning curve, player movement feels much better on PS4.
Beginning the transition from the running game to the passing game, “Player Sense” contextual awareness comes into play by having your players on the field react more appropriately to the context of their situation on the field; for example, stepping over an engaged lineman’s legs instead of tripping over them, or tiptoeing along the sideline instead of just rushing out of bounds.
It may be a good thing that the run game is so able in “Gen 4” Madden NFL 25, as the passing game seems much tougher so far compared to the previous version of the game. The “War in the Trenches” elements allow for the creation of an organic pocket around the quarterback, but part of the improvement to interactions between offensive and defensive lineman means that the pass rush has been improved as well.
As much as the CPU defense has improved, it feels as though user defense has gotten more difficult in the PS4 version of Madden NFL 25. Player switching seems sluggish and sometimes doesn’t give you the best player for the situation once a play is in action, and the CPU quarterbacks do a great job at reacting to play development more quickly as they are aware of the pocket crashing around them.
If you bought Madden NFL 25 for PS3 or Xbox 360, you’ve already seen much of what the “Gen 4” version of the game has in store with regard to presentation. That said, the addition of what’s being called “Living Worlds” has added more detailed and varied crowd models in each of the NFL stadiums, and they do a better job reacting to the action on the field as big plays build up. You’ll also notice a big change with regard to crowd noise.
One new element of presentation which doesn’t work quite as well yet involves “Living Sidelines.” Sidelines are certainly more populated than they were on PS3 and Xbox 360, and you can see these characters having some basic interaction with the game as its played on the field. However, one of the big advertised facets of this feature—players running from the field to the sideline at the end of a play and interacting differently whether they were on a “friendly” or “hostile” sideline—has yet to come into play for me.
Helmets reflect light more correctly on the new console, particularly at indoor stadiums or in rainy, snowy, or night games, which were always particularly ugly on the “Gen 3” consoles for Madden NFL and NCAA Football. On the topic of weather, rainy games see great uniform degradation through mud caking on players and their jerseys and pants.
Animations are also cleaner as a result of the game moving on to next-generation consoles, boasting the same additional catching animations added over the past few installments as well as what looks to be a newly-revised running animation which looks more correct than the too-long strides of recent titles. Tackle animations and interactions remain largely impressive through the development of the Infinity Engine, though there are still occasional “wonky” animations on tackles or other collisions which break the immersion.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of Madden NFL 06 when it was released on the Xbox 360 is that so many features were left behind in the generational transition. By comparison, Madden NFL 25 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is coming across from “Gen 3” with pretty much all features intact.
After an uneven “Gen 3” history for the Madden NFL franchise, Madden NFL 25 on PS4 is the beginning of a new era; an era begun by the release of a game which is focused strongly on pure gameplay requests as its selling points, even though features like revamped offensive and defensive line interactions do not make a “sexy” list of bullet points for the back of the box. The game is far from perfect, but looking over the past eight years makes it clear that the game that is launching for PS4 and Xbox One is moving in a promising direction. The gaming community will continue to watch development of the series closely but Madden NFL 25 for PS4 represents a solid starting point to build from for the next years to come.… Expand
Average User Score: 3.9Aug 27, 2013Madden NFL 25 comes at a crossroads for NFL video games; at the close of the last console generation, EA SPORTS and 2K Sports were locked in aMadden NFL 25 comes at a crossroads for NFL video games; at the close of the last console generation, EA SPORTS and 2K Sports were locked in a bitter competition for the market share. Nearly 10 years later, Madden NFL is the lone game remaining and set for a dual release on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as well as later this year on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. As the franchise celebrates 25 years of existence, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on what the game has achieved and what still needs to be done for the game to be as great as the league it represents.
As a single game trying to carry the history of 25 years, Madden NFL 25 is a difficult entry to assess. The revisions of the Infinity Engine from last year’s Madden NFL 13 result in a better overall gameplay experience, but the introduction of the “Precision Modifier” to the running game controls—part of the overall #RunFree marketing for the game—actually serves to needlessly complicate the experience of playing the game. For many, it may prove easier to use the left and right analog sticks for ballcarriers—just as in previous football games from EA SPORTS, like this year’s earlier NCAA Football 14 release—to achieve success moving the ball on offense.
Unfortunately, additions and improvements to offense in Madden NFL 25 have not truly been met with equal improvements to the defensive side of the ball, leaving gameplay unbalanced in favor of the offense; a common complaint in football video games, for certain, but frustrating here nonetheless. Heat Seeker tackling and Ballhawk interception assists try to keep the defense on equal footing, but CPU quarterbacks can still too easily post completion percentages in the 70-80% range, making games a battle of attrition instead of the chess game that football should be.
The game continues to look great visually, but Presentation remains stale, particularly when compared to the statistical tracking and broadcast elements of NCAA Football 14. Commentary features some new lines from second-year duo Jim Nantz and Phil Simms—supplemented by new commentary from sideline reporter Danielle Bellini—but the overall presentation is still lacking in terms of being able to convey the gravity of important games over the course of the season in Connected Franchise Mode, save for the Super Bowl; even then, the presentation for the biggest game of them all will be all too familiar for anyone who has played Madden NFL in the past three or four years of release.
Speaking of Connected Franchise Mode, this year’s revision of the career mode—where gamers can assume the role of Players, Coaches, and Owners—helps to build a lot of goodwill with longtime fans of the franchise. The ability to control Owners and make decisions big and small for their team—ranging from which player’s jerseys are marketed, to the prices of concessions, to big decisions like relocating a franchise and choosing a new name, uniform set, and stadium—helps to provide plenty of off-field tasks for players to be engrossed in, especially with the ability to access all of these experiences in a full 32-user online league. While one would like to see a more persistently-updated XP notification system like what was present in NCAA Football 14’s Dynasty mode this year, the career offerings of the Madden NFL franchise continue to trend in a positive direction.
Fans of modes like Madden Ultimate Team will see some new additions to their favorite part of the game, including Chemistry and Head-to-Head Seasons which have been brought over from FIFA Ultimate Team. Not all modes have seen improvements like these; indeed, “GMC Never Say Never Moments” (rebranded from the previous mode title “Madden Moments Live”) and Online Team Play (a focal addition to Madden NFL 11, largely untouched since its debut) are tucked away from the main menu, not nearly as touted as the Play Now, CFM, and MUT experiences.
Madden NFL 25 on the current-generation of consoles—specifically the PS3, in this case—is by no means a bad game, or a game unworthy of being played by fans of video game football or the NFL. It is, however, caught in a difficult position; its launch coincides with the start of the NFL season—a key time for any fan of the league—but the game’s release on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 lies less than three months away. With good trade-in programs being announced for players wanting to upgrade their experience heading to next-gen, Madden NFL 25 on current consoles can certainly be a stopgap or holdover until the franchise debuts on a new console generation. However, the start of this new generation will hold high expectations for Madden NFL as a series, and results will need to exceed what was achieved in this year’s game in order for those expectations to be met.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.9Jul 9, 2013The NCAA Football franchise has suffered some lean years of late, especially last year’s entry; when the “Infinity Engine” was announced forThe NCAA Football franchise has suffered some lean years of late, especially last year’s entry; when the “Infinity Engine” was announced for Madden NFL 13 to introduce physics to its gameplay—a feature NCAA Football 13 would be lacking—fans of college football were left waiting anxiously for this year’s release. With only months remaining before the start of a new console generation, NCAA Football 14 has sounded a triumphant cry to unofficially close the current console generation, delivering arguably the best iteration of the franchise since the launch of the PS3 and Xbox 360.
It all begins with gameplay, which benefits from the implementation of “Infinity Engine 2,” helping to create more unpredictable play results. The game has also seen improvements in the Option run game—including the addition of new schemes and plays—and basic running controls where the left analog stick controls hard cuts and the right analog stick controls special moves. The “Infinity Engine 2” also brings the Hit Stick and the Truck Stick back to prominence, while making the Stiff Arm a viable tool in the offensive arsenal again.
Blocking has been improved as well, with new assignments and interactions between offensive and defensive linemen to freshen up the running experience. There are still instances of missed assignments and frustration, but the frequency of their occurrence is significantly less than previous games.
Dynasty and Online Dynasty modes have seen new additions through the introduction of XP and Coach Skills. Players in the mode earn XP by achieving goals in gameplay and recruiting, allowing them the ability to level up their coaches and unlock new Coach Skills. Coach Skills are broken up into skills which affect the game on the field as well as skills which assist in recruiting.
The tried-and-true (and tired) system of recruiting from previous versions of NCAA Football has been overhauled this year with Power Recruiting. The system simplifies recruiting, eliminating the time-consuming “phone call” mechanic and streamlining menus to allow the same amount of depth in while allowing you to more quickly complete your recruiting responsibilities and get back to the game.
Presentation has seen some upgrades as well, though not all will be fully embraced. The unique “tradition” introductions to the games were judged to be over-long, and have been replaced by “music videos” which use highlights to lead into each game; people who liked seeing what makes each of the 126 schools on-disc unique might be disappointed with the loss of these pre-game sequences. Less polarizing are the additions of new statistical overlays and a better-functioning “Living Clock” from the ESPN scorebug, which helps the NCAA Football 14 experience look and feel more like a broadcast. The addition of a halftime show with highlights and commentary from Rece Davis and David Pollack also helps to spruce up presentation, though the in-game commentary from Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit continues to feel old.
The game introduces the popular EA SPORTS staple, Ultimate Team, through NCAA Football Ultimate Team. It functions similarly to Ultimate Team from other EA SPORTS titles, though it uses cards for current and former NFL players representing their college years. There’s not much here to convince non-fans of Ultimate Team as a mode to commit to NFUT, but Ultimate Team fans will have something to keep them busier than in past years.
There is also a “Play a Season” mode in NCAA Football 14 which strips away much of the newly-introduced XP, Coach Skills, and Power Recruiting and allows players to simply play through the 2013 season. While it will surely have its target audience, it feels strange to introduce new features to the Dynasty experience and then offer a way to avoid using those new features.
Fans of Road to Glory mode and last year’s Heisman Challenge mode will be disappointed to find that not much has changed, though the gameplay experience benefits from the addition of the Infinity Engine 2. The lack of improvement for the “single player” career modes is a weak point in the overall package, and fans will be desperate for news about these modes in NCAA Football 15.
NCAA Football 14 is a vast improvement over what the franchise has offered in the past few years. From a personal standpoint, it has given me significantly more enjoyment than any other version of the series released for current consoles. Usually I have to work to stay committed to a Dynasty through a season, leaving me to spend my time in Play Now one-off games; I’ve already played an entire season in my Dynasty, and the gameplay revisions combined with XP and Coach Skills have me looking forward to many more seasons. If NCAA Football 14 is the last version of the game that will be relevant on current consoles with the series making the jump to PS4 and Xbox One next summer, then at least the series will be going out with a BCS Bowl-worthy effort.… Expand
Average User Score: 5.5Aug 30, 2012When it comes to football video games from EA SPORTS, I have more recently been a much bigger fan of the NCAA Football franchise. PastWhen it comes to football video games from EA SPORTS, I have more recently been a much bigger fan of the NCAA Football franchise. Past iterations of the Madden NFL series have played it too safe at times, enjoying the success which seems to accompany almost anything related to the National Football League. With the '13 series of games, however, the momentum has shifted in favor of the Madden NFL team.
It starts with the Infinity Engine, which--while prone to some oddities, particularly in the post-play sequences--provides a level of fundamental gameplay change which sports gamers rarely encounter at this late stage of a console generation. Tuning and tweaking remain to be done with the new engine--particularly with regard to the running game, which remains hit-and-miss even with the superstars of the game--but improvements made to pass trajectories and catching have returned a lot of excitement and enjoyment to the passing game. Defensive backs have been given a new tool to help defend the pass through the introduction of the "Ball Hawk" feature to help set up interception attempts, though the game's fun factor still slants heavily towards the offensive side for most players.
Alongside this rather significant gameplay change comes a change to the fundamental career modes of the Madden NFL franchise; the mode titles of "Franchise," "Online Franchise," and "Superstar" might be nowhere to be found in Madden NFL 13, but this is because they have instead coalesced into a single mode re-branded "Connected Careers." While many longtime Madden fans have been taken aback at this fundamental change to the game… Expand