I have been playing sports games for quite some time now. My football history spans back to the days of the old Atari Football and I must say that the games really did not start getting good until the Madden series hit the Genesis. Ever since the first Madden game, I have seen improvements in gameplay, AI, graphics and atmosphere. The biggest jump was when the games recently moved from sprite-based graphics to 3D polygons, which opened the door for more realistic animations. Well, I think that I can confidently say that NFL 2k may very well be the biggest advancement in a football game of all time and the scary part is this is a first generation game.
NFL 2K has everything that it takes to be great in all of the right places. Perfect atmosphere, graphics and most importantly, gameplay, make up what I feel is the best football game ever released on any system and maybe even the best sports game ever released. There are a few minor issues that I have but they are things that don't really hurt the game much. Think of them more as things that would be really cool for next year. So without further introduction, let's move on to the heart of what I feel as one of the top release games for the Dreamcast.
Wow, where to start. I guess I will begin by saying that no matter what you read here, nothing will prepare you for this game. I had heard things about it before playing but I was not prepared for how the game would look and more importantly, how it would play. This is the best playing football game around and this was a first effort by the development team. I can't wait to see what they have up their sleeves for next year.
Okay, I guess I will start at the beginning. The game has all of the options that I am really interested in -- you can play the standard exhibition games or start a season and you can trade players, create a fantasy season or place yourself in a tournament to see if you can beat the other teams you have selected to be in the tournament as well. It is all pretty vanilla stuff when it comes to this and to be honest, give me the season mode and that is all I need to keep me happy.
After you select your game mode and teams, you jump straight into the game. The first thing you will notice on the kick off is that selecting a play is different from any other football game out there. In the past, play calling has been handled by pressing a button that corresponds with the play. In NFL 2K, the plays are arranged in a half circle and you press the direction on the control stick to select the play. For example, on the kick off, you only have two plays, kick off or onsides kick, so all you will need to do is press diagonal left or diagonal right to select the play. This holds true with the normal plays as well. You select your formation and then your play. Once you get used to it, this works well when playing against the computer. When playing against a human opponent, this is not the best system because your opponent can tell exactly which play you have called. On the other games that map plays to specific buttons, at least your opponent can only guess which of the three or four plays you have chosen. Not here. It shows exactly which play you called.
No, it is obvious that the developers of this game were no dummies and they considered this problem and have come up with a solution; use the VMU (Virtual Memory Unit) to call plays. That is correct, you can set your VMU to call your plays so your opponent has no clue at all what you are calling. I think this is a great idea and it worked for me but I think the process still needs to be refined a bit. It was easy enough to call the play; the problem is that it is all text based so it is tough to determine if the play will be a running play or passing play. You really have to know your plays. It would have been great to have the running plays highlighted or something so you know that it is a running play. The other problem with this is that you lose the graphical representation of where your runner is supposed to go. It is easy to figure out that a "pitch left" will have your back running left but where does a "blast outside" go? Don't get me wrong, this is just a minor issue and I still think that it is awesome that you can use the VMU to call plays at all, but I am just throwing out minor suggestions for improvements next year.
So now that you have called the play, how does the game perform? You can have the best graphics in the world but if the game plays like crap, who cares? (Just look at QB Club.) Rest assured, this game plays great. Actually, great is an understatement. The gameplay is amazing. I found myself nodding my head in amazement on numerous occasions as a hole opened up on the line only to be closed off quickly by a shifting linebacker or seeing a defensive back jump up at the last second to bat away a pass from a seemingly open receiver. Running backs don't break 60 yard gains (I think the longest I made was 26 yards) which keeps the game very realistic. If there is a hole and you play it correctly, your back will slide through. If the receiver is open, he will catch it. If there is no hole, you are going down and if your receiver is covered, the ball is not getting through the defender. Everything just plays so realistically that you will not be able to contain your smiles.
Speaking of realistic, one thing that I wanted to touch upon was how realistic the players look, act, and react to everything. First off, the tackle animations are just awesome. The defenders wrap ball carriers up and drag them down to the ground and everything looks spot on. If they tackle them down low, the offensive player falls differently that if the linebacker meets him straight up. Once again, this is one of the things that is really hard to explain. You just have to see it to really appreciate what they have done and how realistic it looks and feels.
Since all of my complaints are minor, I will just give you the laundry list in one paragraph. First off, there are too many shoestring tackles. Defenders would be lying on the ground and barely graze Jerome Bettis and he would fall. You have to get good at timing the jump button but this was just a bit unrealistic. Next, I would have liked to see more realistic penalties. You can change the frequency of the penalties but I cranked them all the way up and it did not seem to change. I would play entire games without a flag. This was also a bit unrealistic. As frustrating as penalties caused by computer controlled players are, they still add a bit of realism to games. Finally, it seemed like the defenders had a lot of balls hit them square in the chest only to drop them. I felt that if the QB makes a poor choice and throws into coverage, the defender should be able to pick the ball off. As it is now, 1 out of 20 passes that hit a defender in the chest is intercepted.
Since it is Dreamcast game, you know it looks good. I have already touched on the great looking tackle animations but I just want to reiterate how cool they really are. It is unbelievable. Another thing that they did that was cool was actually having people in the crowd and on the sidelines. Other games use color smears for a crowd and it is rare that you will see anyone along the sidelines. In this game, the crowd is full of people and the sidelines are crowded with players, photographers, and other people. Now, these people are all sprites and don't look good up close, the added effect they have really makes you feel like you are watching a football game on TV. Hell, if someone walks into the room, they will have to do a double take.
Far and away the best football game ever made, NFL 2K is a must buy for football fans. I just can't describe the amount of detail that is in this game and even if I did describe it, you still need to see it to truly appreciate what they have done. I just can't wait to see what the upcoming basketball game will look and play like and more importantly, the baseball games. As it stands now, I recommend this game whole-heartedly.
Download NFL 2K
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Apparently Steven Spielberg was stunned when he saw NFL 2K in action at E3. No, really. Yes kids, it's mighty purdy but be careful not to let that gloss you over. You see, a certain other football game (which shall remain nameless) has conditioned us to believe stellar graphics equals poor At. Thankfully that's not the case with NFL 2K. I'm not saying it's on par with Madden's Al but overall I'd give it a B. Our multiplayer games came out surprisingly close each time. A vast amount of plays (on both sides) offers loads of variety. Even so, there's some money plays as well as certain players who are too good, Randy Moss for example. Cranking the difficulty to All-Pro helps a lot. While I'm on the subject, the play menu displays the routes on the field as you select--that's very handy for football newbies. There's also an option to hide plays or use the VMU (only displays play name). Play-by-play is tight and even funny at times (is this possible?). Some things I don't like: a) slower game speed b) passed balls float in the air too long. Things I like: a) awesome player animation b) good game-play (especially for a first-generation title) c) the game's ability to attract non-sporty types. And finally, the fact that a gorgeous football game is also fun to play--that's the most important one. NFL 2K is a must-buy game indeed.
Sometimes, a game looks so nice, you can't help but enjoy it a bit more than you would have otherwise. The animation is the biggest selling point here--it's amazing. The gameplay, however, could've been refined a bit. The passing game is way too easy (which would normally be fine for the more arcadelike experience, except it's not balanced with the overly difficult running game). The series' potential is here--I can't wait to see next year's edition.
I was incredulous about how good NFL 2K would play after checking out the beta a few months ago. However, I like NFL 2K for its arcade-Uke game-play qualities since sports sims really aren't my bag. It was easy to pick up and start QB'ing even if the play menu was confusing. My one gripe is that since it's a bit difficult to run with much success, you end up passing a lot, which makes for a pretty unrealistic game. A great launch title nonetheless.
Yeah, I know games on the Dreamcast look good, but I didn't know they could look this good. Flawless animation and beautifully articulated polygon characters litter the screen. What makes NFL 2K even better is how easy it is to get into. The controls make sense, play-selection is a breeze and the commentary is perfect. The two- to four-player stuff is when I had the most fun. If you only buy one sports game for your Dreamcast, make it NFL 2K.
Everyone off the field! NFL 2K Is a slick, well-constructed football game that'll sideline anything not using the Dreamcast's graphics abilities. The bar has been raised, and Sega is finally on top of Its game.
The Eye Formation
Another game that stopped the show at E3 was NFL 2K...but it wasn't until Sega brought it into the GamePro offices later that we realized what a hit it might have on its hands. NFL 2K's graphics are superior to those on any other system--including the PC. Plus, the visuals are presented in television-style format; Cameras follow players as they walk from the end of a play into the huddle and even pan players as they knock helmets. The player models are true 3D monsters with details so minute, you can actually see the mesh of the players' jerseys. Visual Concepts, the developer, says that each player will be detailed with his real-life idiosyncrasies, too, so you'll see players with high-back neck collars, black visors behind their helmet grills, and even their actual tattoos (in the correct locations, of course).
Football Field of Dreams
There s not a whole lot of money in NFL 2K--that is. early gameplay suggests an advanced A.I. that'll allow you a money play, but you can use it only twice. Visual Concepts claims that after getting burned twice with the same play, the A.I. will shift defenders to cover that play for the remainder of the game. Even if you change your playcalling and try to go back to the money play, the defense will automatically catch on. Though the gameplay was tight in the preview version, the game ran a little slow. It hasn't been optimized yet, and Sega should have plenty of time to speed things up.
NFL 2K's variety of offensive formations and defensive moves, like wrap tackling, stunt blocking, and fake blitzes, should seriously jack football-sim fans. Plus, a complete NFL license means actual NFL team playbooks, stadiums, and players. When you choose a play, pressing the L- or R-trigger button enables you to bring up the routes that offensive players will run, so there's no second-guessing the A.I. There's also an option that makes the QB always throw to the open man--regardless of who you chose as your main receiver. Although there's no mode that lets you clothesline players or beat them silly a la NFL Blitz, penalty-calling will be toned down, so you may be able to get away with a little extra something...like giving someone the business! NFL 2K will certainly be battling other contenders (such as NFL Blitz 2000) for the sports bucks this season, but our money's on this sweet game.
Snapshots and Media
Other NFL Games
- Backyard Football
- ESPN NFL Football
- Front Page Sports Football Pro '97
- High Heat MLB 2003
- Jimmy Johnson's VR Football 98
- Legends '98 Football
- Madden 97
- Madden NFL 99
- NCAA Football 2003
- NCAA Football 99
- NCAA Gamebreaker 2003
- NFL Blitz 20-02
- NFL Blitz Pro
- NFL Fever 2003
- NFL Fever 2004
- NFL GameDay 2002
- NFL QB Club 2002
- NFL Xtreme