There are few tactical battles greater than those you’ll find in the ten yards between the line of scrimmage and first down. This year’s Madden has not only encapsulated those battles as well as ever, but actually made one side of them far more engaging and exciting than they’ve been before; defence. Defending in American Football isn’t the glamorous side of the game, but since this year’s Super Bowl winners, the Seattle Seahawks, won the Lombardi trophy on the strength of their defensive play, it was clearly time to address that in Madden .

The answer of RT tapping to get a fast start on the defensive line and a camera angle behind the defence, eying down the quarter back, has given this side of the sport some nerve-tingling immediacy. Small button prompts of A and X indicate how best to get away from your blocker and then its full steam towards your foe for the sack. It can be exhilarating stuff.It’s not perfect, though, for all its entertainment value.

The camera angle for instance may be great for the Blitz and rushing, but once the pass is made, the play can get away from your point of view fast. We also experienced one or two camera glitches where our screens were in sideline view, but our controls thought otherwise. It’s not the only Madden 15 glitch you’ll see out there, either. We recommend searching out the miniaturised player videos floating around on YouTube. But these are really only moderate to small quibbles in an otherwise much-improved game from last year. Our complaints of a lack of flair to the graphics are long gone.  Madden not only has the pomp and ceremony of the NFL down, but it looks every inch the part, too.

Player models are mostly excellent, animations superb and uniforms look great too. The lighting both for day and night matches, no matter what the weather is like, also adds heaps to the visual realism on display.

Along with the trigger starts and grappling prompts you’ll notice a lot of extra HUD improvements that should help newcomers grasp the game much faster, and importantly all can be deactivated for veterans who find such assistance insulting. That said, we rather enjoyed the new training drills and the Gauntlet in particular, spinning out various offensive and defensive challenges with only five fails allowed. A great way to learn and master the game.

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