NFL Gameday 99
Having accomplished the feat of being the top-selling PlayStation game in 1998, the developers (now called 989 Studios) of NFL GameDay 99 have the challenging task of staying ahead of EA two years in a row.
After playing quite a bit of their newest football game, EGM has a good idea on how they plan to do it.
GameDay stunned players last year by bringing out the first polygonal football game and this year's game looks even better thanks to a new graphics engine that enables GameDay 99's players to sport 350 polygons per player as opposed to last year' 150 polygons. Furthermore, detailed texture maps give these polygons great depth and detail such as player numbers, names and logos on the jerseys. Then, additional lighting and shading effects do the rest.
One of the things this series has always lacked is a good presentation, and this year, 989 Studios is concentrating on making this part of their game much better by making NFL GameDay feet more like a television broadcast. Veteran announcer Dick Enburg and newcomer Phil : Simms will be calling the game, and some of their commentary will even be spoken during i the plays. Multiple 3D cameras will be used before and after plays in television-esque fashion to show quarterbacks walking to the line of scrimmage, or zooming in to show a receiver after a big catch. If you don't give a damn about these sorts of things, a simple button press will abort the spiffy camerawork.
Aesthetics don't comprise the only improvements, however. 989 Studios is aware that last year's game took some criticism for its artificial intelligence, and promises that GameDay's new Al will be much better (see sidebar) and that the game's statistical tracking will be unmatched. Additional features such as defensive line shifting before the play and some new special moves are also being implemented to give the gameplay more depth.
With such comprehensive improvements across the board in NFL GameDay 99, it looks like football fans will be pleased with the next installment of this popular pigskin franchise. Look for a review of the game in next month's EGM.
- MANUFACTURER - 989 Studios
- THEME - Sports
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-8
Download NFL Gameday 99
The best-selling football game of '97 is back for another title run on the PlayStation, promising enhanced graphics and the most advanced A.I. to ever tackle the gridiron.
Throughout the years, GameDay's player control has always been at super-star levels, and this year Sony hopes to add even more innovations and improvements to its game. For starters, the Total Control Passing feature is being refined to include every aspect of the passing game: You'll be able to toss lobs over a receiver's shoulder as well as throw bullet strikes. Also new this season are option routes, where receivers will change their pass patterns depending on the defensive coverage, and the defense will disguise their coverages so the offense won't be able to read them.
We haven't played the game yet, but if football history repeats itself, NFL GameDay '99 will be one of the top sports games of the year.
Upgrading the Roster
GameDay '99 plans to blitz football fanatics with the most realistic graphics of any PlayStation sports game this season. For the first time, all your favorite NFL stars will be scaled to their actual height and weight--quarterback sacks and big defensive hits should look even more punishing and brutal than before! GameDay will also feature solid player animations, showing over 50 touchdown celebrations, powerful ball carriers dragging defenders into the end zone, and incredibly violent tackles such as flips and clotheslines.
It's incredible how NFL GameDay continues to improve so radically year after year. It's almost scary in a way. This year the addition of 200 or so more polygons per player and lots of creative shading has really made a difference graphically. The animation is much improved, and as far as game speed goes, I couldn't be happier. Even if you crank the speed the players still move fluidly and realistically. Wrap tackles have been improved too. (no more dragging), though for some reason now when you dive it seems like you've been launched out of a cannon. Anyway though, enough about graphics--on to the important stuff. The best part about GameDay 99 is that they (989) have really tried to bridge the gap between their game and Madden as far as Al and realism is concerned. No, it's still not as smart as Madden, and there's not nearly as many options and features, but it's definitely a big step in the right direction. The TV-style appearance of Madden has been imitated as well (quite nicely, I might add). The commentary is often way off, but overall the feeling of real football is represented much moreso than in previous incarnations. If there's one thing I'm not too happy with, it's the multiplayer play (like last year, it seems like Al goes out the window), but otherwise GameDay 99 rocks.
Even though GameDay 99 is vastly improved over last year's game, it's still got minor holes in the Al and some really annoying bits (like superhuman dives) which take away from the game's realism. If you're more into arcade-style play and don't care so much about the tiny details, you'll probably love GameDay. For me, I'll play it now and again for some quick thrills, but when it comes to my kind of football, I'm down with Madden.
989 certainly has the best-looking football game for the PlayStation. The player animations and detail are fantastic, making for a very enjoyable playing experience. The Al and gameptay are both very solid, making GameDay 99 an excellent package, overall. I've seen a few minor bugs, like a computer controlled receiver running away from a pass, or a ref calling the wrong penalty, but the errors are few and far between.
It simply amazes me how good this year's GameDay looks and plays. The characters are packed with polygon beef that rivals the look of some N64 games. Commentary is varied and plentiful, easily putting the sparse remarks in Madden to shame. The Al still has some problems and feature-wise it's somewhat lacking, but overall, despite my fondness of Madden's sim aspects, this year I've got to give the nod to GameDay.
The first football game I bought for the PSX was the original GameDay by Sony. Actually, I am willing to bet this was the first football game that most of us first generation PSX owners bought. Sure, it may have been the only football game available for the first year, but it was still awesome. I played that game for hours on end. The next year's GameDay 97made some improvements on the original and was a great game. Last year, GameDay 98 introduced us to the world of polygon players which has been one of the most revolutionary enhancements of all time. This year, the GameDay crew is trying to continue the tradition of great football games and looks to keep the Super Bowl trophy in their display case for another year.
NFL GameDay 99 has looked to improve on almost every aspect of last year's title. This effort includes all new graphics, a new TV-style presentation, better football AI and Dual Shock compatibility. All of these things should have given the game what it needed to come out on top for the fourth year running. With the strong tradition and loyalty of GameDay lovers such as myself, this game was really a can't miss title. The funny thing is that it does miss, and miss badly in some places.
I have always loved GameDay football games. Every year, I can't wait to see what cool new feature or awesome new addition the game will pack. The hype around GameDay 99 was already starting and I was sucked in just like everyone else. I just knew that since the last three years' versions have gotten progressively better, this year would be the best yet. In some ways it is, and in other aspects I was really disappointed.
Let's start off with the good. This is still GameDay, so you have all the familiar faces and options available. If you have ever played any version of this game, you will be able to pick up a controller and start bashing helmets. All of the previous versions have that same look to them but this year, the look has been charged up some. The play calling screens have been redone and they actually give you a better idea of what the formation will look like and how the play will work. Personally, I never had a problem with the old system, but I also watch NFL football religiously. That means I understand what a 3-4 defense is without having to rely on the little picture on the screen. For those of you who are not as football literate, you should really like the new play screens because they will give you a nice little picture of the alignment so you will know what you are getting yourself into.
Once again, this is still GameDay so you will have a ton of different formations and plays to choose from. Just about any offensive play you can imagine is here, and about every defensive alignment is also available. This has always been one of the strong suits of the series, but this year they have really done a great job of adding to the realism. You can call spy defenses that will have your linebacker side stepping across the middle of the field while spying the running back. When playing against the computer, you will be faced with a particular defensive alignment only to see the alignment change before you snap the ball. This was one of the best parts of the game. I was very impressed with the realism of the players' actions.
Along these same lines, I was both impressed and not-so-impressed with the overall realism of the game. When it came to little things, this game hit it right on. Before the coin toss and after the game, the players would walk up and shake hands. This was a great touch. Also, when a timeout was called, the quarterback would walk over to the sidelines and talk with the coach. Little details like this were found everywhere. The thing that I was not so impressed by was the actual gameplay realism. GameDay has traditionally been a bit more arcade-feeling than other football games on the market, so there were some things that were a bit exaggerated to get the desired effect. Well, this year the problem I have with the game is that it is too easy to catch passes. Actually, it is not the catching of passes that bothers me, but the fact that a receiver could be triple teamed and still make the catch. It happens all the time. This means that no matter what coverage you call, you will be screwed because the receiver will catch the ball anyway. This really dropped the overall score of the game because it just got frustrating knowing that regardless of the play I called on defense, the reliever would still catch the ball even if covered.
As long as I am complaining, I need to get in a few words about the announcing. The developers had Dick Enberg and Phil Simms do the play-by-play and color, respectively. Enberg was decent most of the time, but Simms was terrible. A lot of his comments were repetative to the point of annoyance. He would say the same thing over and over again, and a lot of times what he was saying did not really fit. For example, I played a game at San Diego. Ryan Leaf made a great play, and Phil Simms said that Leaf really does a lot of work in the community and that he lives in the city in the off season. Last time I checked Leaf was a rookie, which means he has not yet had an off season. Also there were times when Enberg or Simms would say that this was an important third down when it was only second down, or say that the catch was made by the running back when it was the wide receiver. The point is that the announcing was terrible and got to the point where it was annoying. Sure, this really does not effect the gameplay, but after putting in as many games as I have, it will wear on your nerves.
Another thing that bothered me was the lack of fumbles. There are just about the right amount of interceptions, but I played through two whole seasons and never even saw a single fumble. This was weak because sometimes a fumble is your only chance of getting back into a game and since they never happened, you have no chance. I just thought this was really weird because the past versions of this game have always had a good balance when it comes to fumbles.
This game is obviously taxing the PSX hardware. I am afraid the GameDay crew may have maxed out the capabilities of this game. Is that a bad thing? Yes and no. It is great most of the time because everything looks great and plays pretty smoothly. On the other hand, there were times when the game slowed and stuttered to the point that I couldn't tell what was happening. This usually happened on a pass into the end zone. If you have a small area like the end zone where a lot of the players are crowded in together and you throw a pass, it just flat overwhelms the system and slows things down to a standstill. I am sure that they didn't want it to be this way, but it just goes to show that the PSX potential may have finally been hit.
The game is not all bad, though. As I said, it is still GameDay so you have your crushing tackles and overall fun gameplay. The Total Control passing is back, and seems to work better than before. It is the same with the other total control options. If you have never used the total control before, it is a system that allows you complete or total (get it?) control over your players. For example, you can underthrow or overthrow your receivers. Also, you have more control over your running back after he gets the ball. If you don't use the total control, you really only have one special action button that pulls off the move to the computer's liking. With the total control, you can select a spin move or a shoulder charge or anything else. The same goes for defense. Instead of a single button for all tackles, you can select a high tackle or shoulder charge or anything else in between. This is definitely the way you should play the game.
In a single word, great. The graphics in this game are really the best part. The polygon players move and look like actual people. When they fall down they actually get back up instead of magically appearing back on their feet. After the play, they all run back to the huddle. When a play is called, they walk up to the line and get into their positions. The new TV style presentation will show the quarterback walking up to the center from a side angle like a TV camera. It worked great. I think that the attention to detail on the graphics side was outstanding. You can see the logos on the side of the players' helmets. When close enough, you can see the names of the players on the back of the jersey. All of this detail does come at a price, though; there are times when the game slows down to the point of not being able to tell if you caught the ball or not.
To be brutally honest, I was a little disappointed in this game. Part of my disappointment was because I have set such a high standard for the GameDay products and anything less than perfect just won't do. The more I played the game, the more I found that I did not like. This is usually the opposite for me. I normally find that the more I play a game the more I like it. It was cool to have the actual commentators from the NFL but come on, get the sayings right and add more variety. I am tired of Phil Simms saying, "He should enter the fastest man competition in the off season." Look, Phil, defensive linemen are not fast, okay? The game still does have some GameDay fun in it, but I think most of the long-time faithful players will end up a little bit disappointed.
Arguably the most fun new football game for the PlayStation, NFL GameDay '99 not only boasts better graphics than its PlayStation rival, Madden '99, but more control over its players and faster gameplay. Although hardcore fans will love Madden's features, the smart money's on GameDay.
Every time you turn on GameDay, you'll be amazed by the superb graphics this game struts. The new TV-style presentation, with rotating cameras and close-ups of star players, captures all the hits, jukes, and celebrations on the field while providing the fastest frame rate of any PlayStation eleven-on-eleven football game. In fact, the hulking players flex their graphical muscle all over the field, even after helmet-to-helmet collisions, when they stagger to the sidelines with the help of a trainer.
GameDay also scores big over Madden in terms of player control: Not only can you hurdle, spin, dive, and sidestep around tacklers, but unlike Madden, you can also perform double-spins, shoulder charges, and superman dives over the goal line. Quarterbacks can lead receivers downfield by throwing lob or bullet passes and even gun the ball out of bounds if no one is open. On defense, you can use forearm shivers to floor receivers at the line of scrimmage, shift the defensive line, switch to the deepest man in coverage, and make one-handed interceptions.
Scoring with Sound
GameDay '99's sounds are also a huge improvement over last year's title. Dick Enberg and Phil Simms provide the in-depth commentary and play-by-play analysis the series always lacked, while also adding unexpected colorful stories about superstar players such as Barry Sanders and Robert Smith.
A While both games deliver equally tight football gameplay, p the one area in which GameDay doesn't equal Madden is features. Game-Day offers all of the usual options expected in a football sim--real players, trades, drafts, and free agents--but Madden's extra list of features is superior: A Franchise Y mode, a play editor, and a One Button mode for rookies are exclusively Madden. Though the lack of ? these options may sway some people to Madden, if you demand better graphics, more in-depth controls, and faster game speeds, NFL GameDay '99 is definitely the game for your library.
- On pass coverage, dive at the receiver right as the pass comes to knock it back up in the air for a possible interception.
- Run the Pro Split, Sweep with your fastest halfback. Use a burst of speed to make it outside the tackle, then juke around any defenders that stand in your way.
- When playing as the Vikings, alternate sideline throws between Reed and Carter. Then when the coverage shifts to the outside, exploit the middle of the Held with your new sure-handed rookie.
- Always hit the quarterback. Even if your blitzes cost you a big play early, you'll better off in the long run by injuring your opposition's starter.
The follow-up to the best sports game of last year (according to GamePro readers), GameDay '99 is ready to sack football fans with the smoothest graphics of any PlayStation football game.
Sunday Morning Dream
NFL GameDay '99 struts onto the field with undoubtedly the coolest-looking player models ever seen in a PlayStation football sim. The yoked-out studs are muscle-bound (like the players in NFL Xtreme) from helmet to cleat and include even the smallest player details like taped-up jerseys and wrists. You'll also see tired players wipe their laces and place their hands on their waists as they walk back to the huddle and receivers that look over the correct shoulder when making overhead catches. Plus, 989 Sports promises a variety of wraparound tackles to blast ball carriers across the field.
Gameplay Is Key
Graphics are important, but GameDay's franchise has always been built around revolutionary gameplay, and Game-Day '99 already has the onfield moves of a champion: On defense, you can shift your line from left to right to adjust to the offense's formation. Plus, the game features a new Blitz button that enables you to harass quarterbacks and to shift your defensive backs into bump-and-run coverage, defenders that will read and react to offensive situations more realistically than in past GameDays, and a comprehensive stat engine that tracks virtually every category imaginable. As for this year's commentary, it'll be called by announcers Dick Enberg and Phil Simms. GameDay '99's incredible combination'of gameplay and graphics should once again make it the football game to beat this fall.