Review by Shady

"My first taste of Sega Sports."

The score is 27-27 with 1:00 left in the fourth quarter. You currently have the ball at your own 30 and you only have one timeout left. On the first play of the drive, you rifle off a pass to Hines Ward, who in turn runs it 15 yards before going out of bounds. The clock is stopped with 55 seconds to go. You decide to do a running play next because Jerome Bettis has had an awesome game prior to this drive. The run play doesn't fool the tough as nails Titans defense, though, and Bettis only picks up two yards. Instead of using your final timeout, you proceed to go with a hurry-up offense. You call an audible at the line of scrimmage, ordering a quick slant play to Plaxico Burress. As you drop back for the pass, one of the monsterous Titans' defensive linemen hits you with all his might and knocks the ball loose. Another defensive lineman notices the loose ball, picks it up, and runs it all the way down to your 10 before getting tackled. The Titans waste the time clock before kicking a short field goal for the 30-27 upset win. Not all stories have happy endings, now do they?

NFL 2K1 allows you to recreate games like that, happy ending or not, whenever you like. If you like football, then you will love NFL 2K1.

One of the most impressive aspects of NFL 2K1 is its absolutely astounding visuals. I have never seen a football game look this good! Everything has so much detail - you can see the player's breath when its cold outside, and helmets even have reflections of the nearby environment on them! There are also a whole lot of animations - over 2000 of 'em, to be exact. Players stumble, get tripped up, and get tackled with some of the best animations I have ever seen in a football game. If you think you've seen 'em all, think again. You will notice new animations all the time, even after your 100th game! The combination of superb animations and beautiful visuals makes instant replays actually look good, instead of the usual tripe found in most other sports games. In fact, the only problem I could find within the visuals was the poor crowd, but that is only a minor problem and does not affect the game in anyway. Without a doubt, the graphics are most impressive.

Don't let the visuals fool you though, NFL 2K1 is more than just fancy eye candy. You are given a plethora of options as to how you wish to play the game. There are the usual game modes like exhibition, season, practice, tournament, playoffs, fantasy, and franchise, but NFL 2K1 also offers a couple new modes - online play and tutorial play. Let's face it, the thought of being able to play a football game on the internet is exciting. I bet any football/gaming fan would agree with me there. It's a shame then that Sega decided to start charging people $9.95 a month to play the game online. It used to be free back when the game first came out, but now it costs money. Sure, I would understand charging for newer sports games like NFL 2K2 or NBA 2K2, but why charge for a year old game? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Tutorial mode, on the other hand, is a nice option for new football gamers. It allows you to play a regular game of football with the only difference being that the computer will give you tips while playing. I'll admit that I never used the mode other than for review purposes, but it seems like a great start for 'newbies' to football games.

What good would all of the options be if the game wasn't fun to play? Obviously, they would be a waste of disc space. Thankfully, NFL 2K1 does not have that problem. The game is a blast to play. The passing system is absolutely great - just drop back and press the receiver's button to throw the ball to them. Simple as that. The running game, however, is not the greatest. Pulling off big 15+ yard runs is not uncommon. In fact, it happens quite often. This problem is most noticeable if you are using a highly-rated running back like Curtis Martin or Eddie George. If you prefer having more realistic games, then you will probably wish to use a low-rated running back to even things out stat-wise. Also, if you find a particular play that you are very good at, you can usually run the same play as many times as you want with near-same results every time. Once again, if you prefer a more realistic game, you can always just pick a different play each time (that's what I do). Even with those two problems, though, the game is still a whole lot of fun to play.

Part of the reason why the game is so fun is that you can customize almost everything. Been getting too many penalties? Go ahead and turn them down all the way. Too hard on Pro? Set it down to Rookie in the middle of the game. Tired of making plays yourself? Let the computer do it for you. Need to make the offense get to the line of scrimmage faster? Use the hurry-up offense option. There really are a lot of ways you can customize NFL 2K1 to your liking.

There is one area of NFL 2K1 that could use some serious improvement and that is the commentary. At first listen, the two-man commentary appears to be great. That is, until you reach the second half. Then they start to repeat themselves. Once you hear a comment for the fiftieth time, you will want to turn off the commentary as fast as possible (which you can, by the way). The commentary will also make some really dumb comments. For example, in my last game I was beating the Steelers 42-10 with less than 40 seconds left in the game. After my kickoff, the commentators were saying that the Steelers actually had a chance of coming back and beating me. Ridiculous. Still, even with the dumb comments and repetitive remarks, the commentary is better than that of Pat Summerall and John Madden.

As for the rest of the sound, it's great. The game's presentation is almost life-like. The crowd is among the best I have ever heard in any type of sports game. The fans start chants to pump up the players and loudly react to plays on the field. In fact, the entire arena is full of noise. The PA announcer can be heard after every play and there is even music played before some plays, just like in real life. Impressive.

All in all, NFL 2K1 is one hell of a football game. It has a few problems, such as the easy running game and cheap plays, but as a whole the game is nothing less than great. With a retail price of $9.99 or less now, you can't go wrong with buying NFL 2K1. Well, unless you dislike football games, of course.

Best Feature: Madden Cards.
Worst Feature: No challenge; computer has no running game.

Final Analysis:
Graphics 10/10 - among the best I've seen in any game
Sound 6/10 - repetitive/dumb commentary, great arena noise
Gameplay 8/10 - easy running game and cheap plays only real problems
Control 9/10 - easy to learn, very responsive
Replay Value 9/10 - multiplayer and franchise mode will keep you coming back
Challenge 8/10 - varies with difficulty level
Overall 8/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 03/29/02, Updated 03/29/02

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