Review by Gruel

Reviewed: 02/15/02 | Updated: 02/15/02

Amazing, just amazing!

The Game

After spending two great years exclusively on the Dreamcast, Sega's NFL 2K series finally makes its way on the Playstation 2 due to Sega announcing ending it's run in the hardware business and going cross platform in late January, 2001. This year's version was also on the Dreamcast for one last year, and also was coming out for the X-Box. So you can see the developers at Visual Concepts had a tight schedule around them, they managed to make the Dreamcast version release at the start of the NFL season (the ideal time to release a football game), but they couldn't release the PS2 version until December 2001, right when the play offs were near, and to make matters worse, Visual Concepts only had five months time to develop the game. So will we get a horrible playing version of NFL 2K2, or will the Visual Concepts wow us all? Let's get onto the review and find out.

Graphics

By hearing the many critics who played the Dreamcast version who were disappointed that the graphics were nearly identical to last years game, you can tell which platform where the developers were putting all the time and effort into. Yes, the graphics for NFL 2K2 in the PS2 version are loads better than the Dreamcast version. Just by looking at the player cut scenes after first few plays you completed in the game, you can tell that you were ready for a mind blowing experience. The player faces are detailed down to every bit and actually look like the real life players. Randy Moss looks exactly like Randy Moss, ditto with Jerry Rice, Brett Favre, and everybody else. They're animated to where you see there lips move as they yell at other players and squinting there eyes as they give the opposition the stink eye. These faces look a billion times better than the improved ones in Madden 2002, another thing that is improved in both games and looks a lot better in 2K2 is the Instant Replays. Now, you can see players highlighted with a marker, just like on television, before they make there great play. Also replays slow down at key points where you make juke, or shove off a defender.

The stadiums, crowd, and sidelines look just perfect in the game. Everything is detailed down to how it is in real life to stadium banners, score boards, and so on. The sidelines look like actual sidelines during actual games, packed with players, cameramen, first down marker holders, cheerleaders, and refs. The bleachers are filled with animated fans. Speaking of animations, there are tons of new ones for this game, from new tackling animations, to even new sprinting out of the pocket animations that look great. The only sad thing about the new sprint out of the pocket animation (which only happens on select plays) is that you can't throw the ball or do anything with it until the several second animation is over, and that isn't good when the defense is blitzing. The only other complaint I have about the visuals is the seldom, random, sudden, shifting of the players in action. I swear, one moment my player is running straight down the field with the ball, the next moment, he suddenly is several feet to the left getting creamed by a defender.

The radial menus used for main menus and play calling in the last two games are gone, and cursors are introduced in this years which you use to highlight options and plays. It gets a tad confusing when playing co-operative because both players can choose plays at the same time, and the game plays by whoever picks the play first. And yes, the play select screen is just how it use to be where if you are going against a friend, they can see what play you are picking, but that's where the easy to use, bluff play calling comes in handy. And while Madden 2002 may have the excellent Madden Cards of players, 2K2 has simply, ''Player Cards'' which shows the players animated face, gives his stats, and lists several interesting facts about every single player in the game. The loading times for the games are almost three times as fast as the horrible loading times for games in Madden 2002.

Sound

The sound effects are nearly the same as last year's top of the line ones with all the tackles, grunts, etc. sounding exactly the way they should. There is a lot more player chatter featured in here than in Madden where you'll hear linebackers yelling taunts at the Quarterback, and making sure they're letting a downed man know who's there daddy after a big hit. The PA announcer does all the play calling, and sounds very similar to the ones you hear when you attend actual games and he even throws in his own witty comments here and there, but he's not the only one doing the commentary. The voice actors who do commentary in the game we know from past 2K editions as ''Dan Stevens and Peter ‘O Keefe'' are back, and as I mentioned in my other 2K reviews, they sound a whole lot better than hired big guns from television. They'll go over almost all the plays, giving there opinions of how the team and certain player are performing. They'll even go over the instant replays in detail pointing out key details that made a certain play like a stiff arm, or a juke. Now even though they sound great and do a damn good job, they do occasionally miscall some plays, but not too often. Even though this game does have the most lines of commentary than any other football game out there, you will start to notice there comments repeating every so often, but nowhere near the horrendous rates of other football games.

Game play

2K2 has the fast paced game play which may be close to on notch with NFL Blitz, but still has that unique, simulation feel. 2K2 has an excellent control scheme that anyone should be able to learn easily. On offense as QB you can throw the ball away, beam it, lob it, scramble out of the pocket, or when you have the ball you can stiff arm, turbo boost, spin, and juke. Tackling on defense is loads better than in Madden, where your defenders actually jump more than half a foot to make a tackle. All the moves available to you make the running game nice to play. But I find the passing game a tad on the difficult side with many incomplete passes that shouldn't of happened to wide open receivers. Sega introduced an alternate control scheme to this game called ''Virtual Control'' where all you need to use to control the game is the two analog pads, and you use one to move your player, and the other pass, tackle, spin, and so on. It is a real nice alternative for all the people who don't like memorizing button placement, but takes a lot of practice to master. The Maximum Passing feature is back where you can guide specific receivers when you throw them the ball. And one last feature that is very nice is the Performance Equalizer, where if your home team doesn't really have the greatest stats, it makes it where both teams have equal stats with no advantages.

For game modes available, we have practice where your team can practice certain plays or do full out scrimmages. Then you have quick start mode where you just jump right into a game with default rules and two teams automatically picked for you. Tutorial is up next, where while you play a game, after each play, the game gives you a tip on how to play the game, like how to juke, and do bluff play calling, for example. Moving on, we have Exhibition where we pick any two teams, and customize all the options like penalties, weather, quarter length, etc. In Tournament mode you can pick up to eight teams and place them in a play off type tree. The Play offs mode plays out just like tournament, but with twelve teams, and plays out exactly how it does in real life. Season mode is where you play the authentic seventeen week season of the 2001 NFL football schedule. If you play good enough, you may enter the play offs and play your way up until the Super Bowl, and end off the season with the annual Pro Bowl in Hawaii. If one Season isn't good enough for you, then play the Franchise mode where you can play as many seasons as you want, and have off season options available to you like retiring players, resigning players, trading players, and going through the draft.

If you don't like what the game has available to you then make your own of virtually anything. Create your own player with your own look and stats and sign him on your favorite team. Or Create your own team and assemble a roster of all stars. You can do any trading you want in the game, no matter if you're playing in a season or not. You can create your own user profile, and the game will save your win-loss records, and high scores.

Replay Value

There is just so much to do in this game, the options are endless. There are just loads of modes available for you to play in for the solo player, weather it may be one season or many seasons in Franchise. Up to five players can play at once to have an all out party with your friends. Add to that all the customization options like create a player, create a team, and user profiles, and you may see yourself wasting your life with this game.

In Brief

+: The best graphics of any the bunch of football games out there, Best commentary of all the football games, loads of ways to play

-: Players occasionally pop up into random spots, Commentators miscall plays at times

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9.6
Game play: 9.9
Replay Value: 9.6

Overall: 9.7

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 10

Comments

How come this season almost every publisher had to release a football game. There's ESPN NFL Primetime by Konami, which is probably full of countless glitches and bugs for being the first football game by Konami. Sony has the NFL Gameday series back again along with its college counterpart, but that series just seems to be getting worse and worse as the years progress. Midway has NFL Blitz, but that is in a whole new field with its arcade theme of game play. Acclaim has the Quarterback Club series, which has been around forever, which is slowly, but surely getting better each year. And finally we have Electronic Art's Madden NFL Football with it's college companion, NCAA Football, which has been the king of football on Playstation since the Madden series went polygonal in the ‘99 season. Now including this game, that's a total of eight football games to choose from, which is just too damn many for a consumer to choose from.

Here's an idea, we'll just narrow it down to NFL simulation games, that knocks off Sony's and EA's College efforts, and NFL Blitz. That is still five games to choose from, and I'm hear to tell you which game to choose. I already gave you a run down of all the competitors in the paragraph above, and my conclusion is that Madden and this game are the best, with 2K2 scoring .2 better than Madden overall. In the end, it all depends on how you like your football games, if you like it moving at a natural, slower pace, then pick up Madden. But if you want the game to go by at an amazingly fast speed, but still want that touch of simulation, then pick up this title.


Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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