Review by Gruel

"Way better than Madden 2001!"

Introduction

Last year on Dreamcast launch day, September 9, 1999, Sega Sports released one of the most ground breaking football games ever, which featured jaw-dropping visuals, and some of the best commentary ever for a football game, hands down, it was the best console football game hands down, shattering Gameday, Madden, Blitz, QB Club, and any of the other football games released last year. It was quite flawed though, so will this year’s version bring any improvements upon last year’s game, or will it be the same game with little added? Let’s get onto the review and find out, but before we do.......

A Brief Rundown of Last Year’s Game

NFL 2K featured some of the greatest football action ever to happen, it was developed by a team I never heard of before this game was out called Visual Basics, it had a 2 person broadcast booth made up of hired voice actors to do commentating and a lady at the sidelines for interviews and injury reports. The presentation of the game was simply mind blowing as it closely resembled a live television broadcast, but it was severely flawed, for example, the running game was severely flawed where you could barely pick up any yardage on the average run. Also their were many programming glitches like in multi player where user records being all messed up, and making time outs and subs being tricky. Their was also a host of other minor glitches, but I’m not going to list them all here, remember, I’m reviewing NFL2K1, not last year’s version. Any ways lets get on to the review and start off reviewing what we always see in the beginning of all games which is the.....

Opening Game Entrance Video

Now in last year’s opening video, Visual Basics decided to be unique and opted to go with the games in game graphics being used for it’s entrance video with voice over from the game’s announcers, Dan Stevens and Peter O’ Keefe, which looked really amazing and got you pumped up for the game. But Sega decided to go the exact opposite way with this year’s version which is mostly FMV video footage off actual football games with lots of sacks, tackles, and wild fans shown with a background tune, either way, it still gets you pumped up and ready to play the game. Now let’s move onto the.....

Graphics

The basic info about the graphics/visuals in the game:

The in-game graphics during game play, look simply fantastic. Just like the real thing! The players all have different size proportions so you can tell who’s the fat, slow, offensive linemen, or the fast, well built receivers. The game’s opening FMV looks great, which reminds me much of the one’s used in the Gameday and Madden games. You can set the weather to however you want, where you can have a cold, snowy day, or a hot rainy downpour, heck even the players have mud stains on their uniforms from playing in these weather conditions. All the teams have their own exact uniforms which resemble what they wear in real life, both home and away uniforms. The stadiums, and fields look great, but the turf does look a little duller than last year’s game, just a green color, but during rainy storms, you get muddy sneaker prints on the field. But oh, well its not even that big of a complaint, I don’t even care about it unlike some people(cough, IGNDC, cough). The action replays are back, and look better than ever. The radial menus are back, and are the same as last year where they’re easy to navigate and user friendly. The stats and create a player/team/plays menus also all use the same, easy to use, layout as last year too. The play selection screen is still the same as last year, where the play formations are displayed on screen so you’ll easily know where the routes are, and of course, if you’re going against a friend, that’s why you have Bluff and/or VMU play calling so he won’t see what you pick. So Visual Basics stuck with the classic formula where if you have something going for you, stick with it.

New to the graphics in this year’s version of the game:

Now of course, no matter what there’s always room for improvement, now you don’t have to do a complete make over in the graphics, but their’s always added little things that go unnoticed at first, but after playing a while, you’ll be like, ‘hey, I don’t remember that from last year’s game!’ But one of the new changes in the graphics department is that you should recognize right away is the reflective helmets, at first you’ll think you only see them on the team select screen, but they’re actually in the game too, and look great at the close up angles after plays. For other things you won’t notice until after a couple of games, is that most players have different faces and a lot of ‘em do look a lot like their real life counterparts, another thing is that the sprites on the sidelines are now animated, like your teammates wave their arms when you make a good play, and you see cameraman adjusting cameras and so on. And finally their’s a host of new motion captured animations like new type of tackles, some great new tackles are ones where your receiver catches a ball in midair and gets tackled in midair, it just looks awesome, so good you have to see it to believe it.

Sound

The basic info about the audio/sound effect in the game:

Once again Sega outdone themselves and did another bang up job in the sound category. All the sound effects on the field are the same as last year, like tackling, diving, and so forth. You also hear the player’s chatter on the field, delivering their own threats to the QB, such as, “I’m coming for you, Aikman!” and discussing strategy before the snap like, “I see motion!” and it really delivers to the presentation of the game. You also here the PA announcer during the game, he does the play by play where you faintly hear him calling the down, and post play analysis, but the major part of the sound here is commentary by hired voice actors who go by the personas, Dan Stevens, and Peter ‘O Keefe, they sound just like a broadcasting team off FOX, they have so many comments where they make the call on the In completions, sacks, first downs, touchdowns, safeties, etc. You’ll just have to hear it to believe it(or download some movies off the game), of course, over time(but a long period of time) their comments do repeat themselves, and I did notice them making a couple of play calling errors, for example, where I threw an in completion on first down and they said it was my second straight in completion. But these mistakes are rare and far between.

New to the audio/sound in this year’s version of the game:

The first thing you’ll notice that’s new in this department is the brand new re mix of last year’s theme in the game used for the background music. There’s also different background tracks that follow it while you’re browsing through the menus so they don’t sound repetitive. Stevens and Keefe have lots of new comments they throw in the game, and Keefe is always giving big rundowns of at least two major players in the games opening introduction. Of course, theirs lots of minor player chatter comments thrown in to spice up the game a bit, but I notice that the sidelines reporter, Michelle, is AWOL in this game, even Dan always mentions her name in the games conclusion, like instead of her reporting the injuries that happen on the field, we just got a little text box that pops up and says what type of injury it is and how long they’ll be out for, oh, well, I hated her any ways, she was always repeating herself in last year’s game for the coach’s briefings in the halftime report.

Customization!

Yes, most of the creator modes from last year’s game are back! Like you can make your own plays, and play books, using a really easy to use play editor where you customize how a player runs their routes, jukes here, spin their, etc. Then you can create your own player, which is exactly like last years, where you pick if they want or what type of helmet, nose guard, sleeves, shoes, your player wants, and customize him with all a certain amount of creation points so he can match up just right for you. And finally, you can create your own teams, by buying off any players from any NFL team, make your own uniforms, select your own logo, and have your team go for it all in season play. Also the usual create a user records, and trade, free agents modes are all back as long as you abide by the salary cap.

The glitches are back!

Yes, just like last year, some(not all) of the glitches are back, so far the only major one I noticed is the the user record files goofing, but it’s only if you have 2 or more user files created, where let’s say, player 1 has a win loss record of 4-2, and user 2 has record of 3-1, and lets say you go play a game against the computer as user 1, you win, and the computer loses, well, the records say you lose, but a loss also goes down for player 2, even though he wasn’t playing the game at all! Also the announcers occasionally miscall a play here and their, but that’s all I see for glitches so far. I believe that pesky 2 player can’t call time out/substitution bug from last year is fix, and the pesky running game from last year is also fixed, so now you can finally play both ways.

Controls

Maximum passing is back for the Quarterback, where if you wanna deliver a bullet pass or lob it in the air, also when the person has the ball, they have a wide variety of moves to do such as a spin, stiff arm to the left or right, dive, speed burst a brand new shoulder tackle move, and finally, the brand new juke move! This is the move that finally fixes the running game so you can now run with ease and get by defenders. For old gaming veterans, you can move with the control pad, or you have the option of moving with the user friendly control stick, for free, 3-D movement. One big addition in the game is that when punting, or kicking, you now have to go against the wind, that is when you line up for the punt/kick your arrow will slightly be moving the way the wind is blowing. This does provide quit a challenge, and nailing field goals is a tad bit harder than before, but a nice addition overall.

The briefing on the usual modes of play:

Just about all the modes of play in last year’s game are here, where there’s the usual exhibition mode of play where you can pick a time, customize the options, rule, penalties, and go for a practice round against a friend. Quick start is back as well, where the game randomly picks a team for you with default rules, so you can just jump into a game and play. Fantasy Draft is back where all the NFL players are entered in a Free Agent pool and a big draft is done and you can lead your new team through a tournament or a season. Also tutorial mode is back where you get a tip on how to play the game after each play, much like the opening help bars in the Blitz games. And finally playoffs and season modes return, where you can go through a season, keep tabs on injuries, stats, pro bowl votes, and lead your team all the way to the super bowl.

The new modes of play:

I believe the practice mode is a new mode of play, I’m not sure though, but any ways, you can practice any formation on the field and just practice running around with the ball, which is a great way to get the moves down and practice your running game. Also a new tournament mode is here, where either 4 or 8 go in an elimination tournament where their’s just one team left in the end. Also the mode which debuted and was made famous from the Madden series of games, ever since it’s debut in Madden ‘99, comes the Franchise mode, where you go through the draft, signing free agents, preseason, season, and if you’re good enough the playoffs, and you also have the options of resigning players, retiring old veterans, or trading them away. You can play as many seasons as you want, because you are the coach! Some things are a little absent during Franchise play, like the sports ticker, but no big deal. And finally, the most anticipated new mode ever......

NETWORK PLAY!!!!!!

Yes, Sega.net launches and delivers to you the very first online sports game for the Dreamcast(this is actually the 3rd online Dreamcast game, Chu Chu Rocket, and Street Fighter Alpha 3, managed to feature online play before this game). Any ways, you go through the hassle of typing in all your user info from your ISP, or if you don’t have one you can sign up with Sega.net for 50 free hours of play. Once you get connected(it actually takes about 2-5 tries before you finally connect, but the wait is worth it) you pick a region where you wanna play, then a certain city in that region where you want to play, and you go into a chat room lobby, where if you highlight a certain player(with a latency bar next to them, nice touch) you’ll challenge him, and you must wait to see if he accepts, then you go to the team select screen, where both of you have control over the cursor, so it can be a bit pesky trying to pick teams at once, but once you get things picked, out your own your way to playing online! Surprisingly, the game doesn’t have much slowdown at all using the Dreamcast’s built in 56k modem, you may come across a little every now and then during the game, but for the most part, the game runs pretty smooth overall. Up to 8 players can go at it online through 2 Dreamcasts, and during game play, if you have a Dreamcast keyboard, you can talk to who you’re going against, and it would pop up at the bottom of the screen like the sports ticker would. The only drawback to network play is that there is no online user records, I really wish their could’ve been some, it would’ve been a great touch, but oh well, overall the network game experience for NFL2K1 is outstanding!

Compatible with just about every imaginable Dreamcast accessory!

This game manages to make use of just about every single Dreamcast goodie there is out their, with the exception of the light gun and arcade stick, of course. The VMU doesn’t eat up as much memory as it did last year, here it only takes up 169 blocks of memory, instead of 192 like last year. The game makes use of the Jump Pack so you can “feel” the game, which is really a nice touch to the gaming experience. It makes use of the VGA cord so you can run the game using the superior resolution on your PC monitor. Plus it makes use of the modem to play the game online, and finally you can use the keyboard to chat during online games, or for naming players, teams, plays, in the creation modes.

Just Enough Replay Value to last until next years game!

Yes indeed, this game has it all, the Franchise and Season modes are the main modes for just 1 player, and they can keep you hooked for hours on end. Go against your friends in exhibition mode, or team up with them to take on opponents online, in the addictive network play. Perfect your game in the practice mode, or learn all about it in the tutorial mode. The game makes use of a lot of the Dreamcast accessories like the Jump Pack, Keyboard, and VGA adaptor. Heck you can even download new rosters off Sega.net which reflects the actual NFL season going on so you can keep tabs on trades, releases, injuries which can change a team’s overall rating drastically. Plus the new make over for the running game will make everybody happy!

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics(Visuals, animations, etc.)

They look simply amazing and just as good as last year’s. Visual Basics gave us a whole bunch of new stuff for us to marvel over like the reflective helmets, new animations for tackles, running, and finally animated sprites of the fans in the bleachers and players on the sidelines! The multiple camera angles and action replays actually makes you think that you’re watching a broadcasted game!

Graphics Score: 9.8

Sound(Audio, Sound Effects)

The sound is another thing for us to gaze at. Stevens and Keefe do the best damn job on commentary then any of the other games out their, they make Madden and Summerall seem more annoying than ever. And they kill the play-by-play found in QB Club and Gameday! Plus all the player chatter and tunes for the game add more the presentation!

Sound Score: 9.9

Game play(Controls, Game mechanics, etc.)

Visual Basics sure did listen to the fans on this one. They improved the running game drastically with the new juke moves and smarter linemen. The game is so easy to learn and use that you’ll be play for hours on end. And hands down, the best play selection screen ever! Of course, their still are some glitches that return to the game, but nothing major.

Game play Score: 9.2

Replay Value(Bells and Whistles, Extra Stuff, etc.)

The new Franchise and Network modes alone, are new reasons why to upgrade to this year’s version. They’re a blast to play, plus throw in just about all the Dreamcast accessories to add even more depth to this game, and you’ll be playing forever! Also you and your buddies will love slugging it out, weather it may be at your own home, or online! This game gave it all it had and delivered!

Replay Value Score: 9.5

Overall: 9.6

Rounded to fit GameFAQs score: 10

Final Analysis

You must buy this game! If you own a Dreamcast you HAVE to buy this game. This is the best sports game on the system! And while their may be a couple of glitches in it, it’s nothing major, and you’ll still be hooked, I’m gonna go so far and say that this game may be as good as Madden 2001 for the PS2! So get off your computer right now and go buy this game!


Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/21/00, Updated 11/21/00


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