Sega Sports ESPN NFL Football
With their brand new ESPN license, Sega's struggling sports division once again charges against the likes of Madden. Should they bother?
PS2 / Xbox
By Rick Larson
Once again, powerhouse publishers are hitting us with their newest installments of ever continuing football series. Insanely, some gamers get as excited and as protective of their favorite football game as a dedicated football fan is about their favorite team. You can go just about anywhere on the internet and see the disputes about Madden being the all time greatest football game ever, while new fans of Microsoft's NFL Fever will be equally proud of their title.
Then there's Sega, who has been pumping out the 2K series since... well, since 2k. Though the series has had its fair share of problems, this year seems to be Sega's golden year in the stadium. Sega has finally gone all out in their efforts, and really laid out what a football game should be.
Looking at this latest edition, you can see numerous changes to its overall make up. The most prominent aspect is the massive ESPN icense adorning the game, replacing the old '2K' moniker. Having the ESPN license has really given Sega a huge edge. The atmosphere and presentation of the game is one hundred percent ESPN, right down to being able to watch NFL Primetime with Chris Berman after every week's game during a season. It will make true fans of the sport feel right at home. Each individual game is also graced with a pre-game and half-time show along with the best commentary you can get in this years line up of football games. The overload of pure ESPN power has really redefined the 2k series.
ESPN Football has also received the annual graphics facelift. The graphics are crisp and clean, and while they might not be the best graphics of this generation, they certainly deliver what you'd expect. All the stadiums are beautifully and accurately recreated, alowing all fans to feel at home in their team's stadium. The player models are also done well but the faces and overall body structure could have used a little more work. To make the game feel even more real, more animations have been added to the game. Multiple players will tackle a single player at the same time all in a very believable fashion. More animations have also been added to players in-between plays, during touchdown celebrations and letdowns. This game knows you can't stop staring at it.
The control scheme and gameplay has been overhauled and may feel a little different for those who are used to the old 2k series. I missed last year's installment, so this new layout was a bit of a shock. Play calling is now more Maddenish with the normal three boxes shown on the screen at a time which is actually a welcome change. The turbo button really threw me off whack though, now that it is the A button rather than a trigger.
Probably the biggest addition to gameplay is the grand spankin' new "first person football" mode. If you have heard about this game you have undoubtedly heard about this feature. To be honest this new gameplay style can be fun as heck but is best left played for only single games. After playing it several times in a row you'll probably switch back to the standard third person view. FPF is a good way to mix up gameplay every now and then. When it comes to the actual playing of the game overall the player AI and control is good and won't disappoint even with a few random bugs here or there.
Internet play is also available through Xbox Live and Playstation Online for those that want to strut their stuff around the globe. Needless to say, both renditions of online play work seamlessly, as is becoming increasinly the case with all good online-enabled console titles.
The career mode is also a quite a crowd pleaser. In no way is it as deep as Madden's insanely detailed offering, but it's still good. It is a very approachable and user friendly way of putting gamers in charge by using computers and emails. When you get tired of sitting around the office you can always kick back and relax in your pimped out crib, where you'll get to keep all sorts of unlockables such as furniture and minigames - such as paper football and hockey - just about everything is customizable and can portray the love you have for your favorite team. It's very satisfying watching the crib evolve as you play and accomplish goals through the career mode.
There is very little to complain about. Like I said before the graphics are good but they could have been better. The career mode is great but still not as deep as Madden's. Other than a few bad calls and irritating AI moments, there really isn't anything that hurts this game. I guess the only real thing I could throw in there is that after playing through the first season the game gets a little repetitive. There are always those crib milestones to shoot for though which will keep many players hooked until they have unlocked everything.
Sega has really come out strong this year with ESPN NFL Football, and I'd go so far as to say this is THE football game of the year. ESPN Football is just an outstanding game packed to the brim with great graphics, awesome gameplay, a tantalizing career and crib mode, the exciting FPF, and the amazing presentation only ESPN could dish out. Highly recommended.
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Sega Sports - ESPN NFL Football 2K4
Sega's Football outing for 2004 looks pretty good.
|1.03 min||7.01 MB||MPG|