NFL QB Club 2002

a game by Acclaim
Platforms: GameCube, Playstation 2
Editor Rating: 7/10, based on 2 reviews
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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Overview

As we approach the middle of October, Sony's PS2 is already home to two of EA Sports' latest and greatest next-generation football games. Along with improved graphics and gameplay, the perennial powerhouse tandem of NCAA Football 2002 and Madden 2002 have once again established themselves as the college and pro football games to beat. The contest is far from over, however, as we find Sega and Sony fine-tuning their respective football franchises for release in the upcoming weeks.

But the next football game released for the PS2 belongs to neither Sega nor Sony. Instead, the third gridiron combatant to take to the field this year comes from none other than Acclaim Sports. That's right; NFL QB Club 2002 finally makes its debut on the PS2. If you recall, the NFL QB Club franchise first saw the light of day on Nintendo's N64. Acclaim's initial attempt at football, however, was received with mixed reviews. Relatively speaking, for an N64 game, it featured eye-popping graphics. Unfortunately, for diehard simheads like myself, the game's substandard control and questionable AI quickly reduced the game to bargain bin status. Subsequent releases contained subtle improvements in graphics, but little else.

Bidding for gamers' attention and dollars, Acclaim Sports' NFL QB Club 2002 for the PS2 comes complete with all 31 teams, over 1500 players, updated graphics, and of course, its unique game play mode: The Quarterback Challenge. By year's end, retail shelves will offer no less than six PS2 football games for gamers to choose from. Will QB Club leap above the crowd to make a one hand catch? Or will it ride the bench along with all the other has-beens? Well, check your ticket and take a seat... it's time to kick off.

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

Menu selections are straightforward and easy to navigate. As one would expect, NFL QB Club 2002 features the standard play modes of Exhibition, Season, Practice, and Playoffs. Acclaim has also added a Simulation Mode, in which you can create and play in unique game scenarios based upon your input of several different variables. Among other things, you can choose your teams, select the quarter, and set the time remaining, as well as the score of the game. Once you've created your scenario, snap on your chinstrap and lead your team to victory. Create scenarios based on great games from the past or create 'what if'? scenarios limited only by your imagination. NFL QB Club 2002 is not the first game to incorporate a 'create a scenario'? feature, but it's a welcome addition nonetheless and serves well to extend the life of the game. Fans of the series will be happy to know that the one play mode, which is unique to the football franchise, is back and better than ever. Of course, I'm referring to the ever-popular NFL Quarterback Challenge. You and up to seven of your friends can choose among the top quarterbacks in the league (as well as some of the lesser known ones) to compete in the very same events covered in the actual televised broadcast. These include Speed and Mobility, Accuracy, Read and Recognition, and Long Distance Throw. The QB Challenge is extremely well done and a lot of fun to play, especially if you're looking to kill some time with some of your buddies. I found it to be quite enjoyable even while playing solo (I have no friends). Unfortunately, the game lacks a franchise mode. Considering that it has become a staple in most of today's sport games, I am puzzled as to why Acclaim elected to omit this feature. Gamers who have come to depend on multiple-season play will be disappointed for sure.

While the game lacks a franchise mode, it does have a pretty nifty General Manager Mode. Here you can trade players, draft free agents and check the depth charts of any team in the league. It also has a create-a-player feature, which allows you to create and save up to 22 custom players. Once created, you can import them to the team of your choice.

The play-calling screen is handled somewhat differently from what you're used to seeing in other football games. You choose your formation and play by scrolling up and down from within a small box that appears on the left side of the screen. On the main screen, however, you only get to view one play at a time. This makes play calling unnecessarily time consuming and cumbersome. Before playing a game, I suggest you go to the practice field a few times in order to learn your playbook. Acclaim has added a new twist to the defensive play-calling screen. In addition to choosing your formation (3-4, 4-3, nickel... etc.) and type of play (stunt, crash right, safety blitz' etc.), you can also choose the type of coverage to favor either the run or pass.

Once you're on the field, you'll find player control to be highly responsive. Players cut, spin, and juke with absolutely no delay between your button press and the execution of the move. Player control is strictly of the arcade variety, so those of you interested in real-world based player physics should apply elsewhere. While the passing game offers nothing new or revolutionary, it does get the job done. Before pass plays you can span the playing field to check your available receivers. Like most other games in the genre, each receiver becomes highlighted with an icon corresponding to one of the controller buttons. Snap the ball, locate the open receiver, and fire away. Thankfully, the passing game (or should I say the catching game) is nowhere near as frustrating as it has been in other gridiron efforts -- so you won't see too many of your receivers infected with the 'droppsies.'?

While the AI is not terrible, it's not exactly topnotch either. In general, the CPU will call timeouts and use the clock in an appropriate manner. However, my biggest complaint stems from an overabundance of money plays. As a matter of fact, no matter which team you control, you can easily find at least two or three plays that will carry you throughout most of the game. I played a game with my beloved Giants against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Ravens. I was able to march up and down the field and score at will, using the same three passing plays. The final score -- Giants 55, Ravens 6 (heh, heh, heh, revenge is sweet!). Sadly, things don't improve very much even when you crank up the difficulty level.

Other annoyances prevent the game play from being anything but average. The running game is marred by unrealistic blocking schemes and running backs who seem more like they're wading in mud than zipping along the turf. On defense, diving for the ball carrier is futile more times than not. Overall, the gameplay comes off as an extremely tiresome affair. If it was the only football game out there, I might have been a little more forgiving of its shortcomings. Thankfully, that's not the case.

If you own a multitap, you'll be able to play with up to three of your buddies. I haven't been able to try out this feature, but if it's anything like solo play, I think I'll pass.

Graphics

In some respects, the graphics in NFL QB Club 2002 are quite impressive. Unfortunately in other respects, they're simply mediocre. First the good news -- player models are nicely textured and reasonably detailed. They're not quite on the same level as you'll see in Madden 2002, but they do look nice nonetheless. There are a decent variety of player sizes and shapes. The developers have scanned the faces of many of your favorite NFL players, and they are immediately recognizable. However, for some reason, many of the players have bulging shoulder pads, which appear excessively disproportionate to the rest of their bodies. Team uniforms are colorful and accurately depict their real-life counterparts. The various player helmets are also nicely modeled with ample lighting effects and realistic NFL logos.

Stadiums are nicely modeled and offer a generous level of detail. The sidelines, however, are sparsely populated with just a smattering of players here and there (gotta save those polygons). Assorted weather effects like rain and snow, as well as the lighting effects of day and night games, provide a believable game time atmosphere. Other cool effects like footprints that fade away in the snow add a nice touch.

Things begin to fall apart once you see the game in motion. Animations are uneven at best. Once the ball is snapped, the play explodes as if it was in fast forward. During the play, however, the action will often slow down to a crawl. Although the game boasts over 1500 motion-captured animations, more often than not, they appear somewhat disjointed. During certain tackling animations, for example, the ball carrier will get hit and then suddenly appear face down on the ground with several in-between frames missing. Blocking linemen also seem to pivot unrealistically, turning 180 degrees as if guided by an invisible pole.

After each play, you'll be able to view an instant replay. It's nothing you haven't seen before, but it serves its purpose quite well. You can highlight the player of your choice, rotate the field, and zoom in on the action. However, extreme close-ups tend to focus on the player in the foreground, leaving the other players in a blur. I'm not sure if this effect was intentional, or simply a result of sloppy programming. You'll also witness varying degrees of polygon clipping in which a player will lose an arm or head inside of another player's body.

On the whole, while the graphics aren't terrible, I can't help but think that the developers could have done so much more with the hardware. After all, the PS2 has power to burn and, by now, gamers have come to expect a much higher level of quality from second-generation titles.

Audio

Like most sports gamers, I value the gameplay and graphics of a given title much more than I do the sound effects. However, there's no question, quality sound effects can go a long way in adding to a game's appeal -- average or poor sound effects can detract. Unfortunately, NFL QB Club 2002 offers the latter. The grunts and groans of the players, the crowd noises, and even the commentary are quite ordinary.

Kevin Harlan handles the play-by-play, while Bill Maas executes the color commentary. The first thing you'll notice is that, well, they just don't say very much. For the most part, the boys in the booth remark at the conclusion of each play, with very few significant observations made in-between. Although, I suppose it's better than rambling on and on with a bunch of nonsense. On the whole, the commentary is rather monotonous and repetitive. I guess I expect a little more from today's video games, but when I hear, 'The player caught the ball, but he was tackled right away.'? I can't help but think, ?Gee wiz, Bill, thanks for the explanation!'

Bottom Line

When all is said and done, NFL QB Club 2002 is a decent looking game with average gameplay. Unfortunately, by today's standards, let's face it, 'decent and average'? are not gonna cut it. The game's biggest problem is that it finds itself competing against five other quality PS2 football games. As I mentioned earlier, the two already out are 'killer'? titles that represent the best we're likely to see. The other three are comin' quickly and, trust me on this, they're comin' with guns a-blazin. The Quarterback Challenge Mode is a welcome addition -- if you've got some friends rarin' to get it on, you're in for some serious fun -- but I wouldn't recommend buying the game for this feature alone. This reviewer says, if you're looking for a great football simulator, you've got two choices -- either stick with EA Sports, or wait for the others. It's as simple as that!

Download NFL QB Club 2002

GameCube Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Playstation 2 Download

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Overview

As we approach the second month of 2002, the next-generation of video gaming finds itself in full swing. For owners of Sony's PS2, it is indeed a great time to be a gamer. A quick visit to your local retailer reveals software shelves overflowing with an avalanche of gaming goodness. Sports games in particular are especially well represented, with several popular franchises competing for your gaming dollar.

On the other hand, if a GameCube is your lone next-generation console, it's quite a different story. To be fair, it's been only two months since the launch of Nintendo's fledgling game system, and comparisons with the well-established PS2 would be ludicrous at best. Nonetheless, software continues to trickle onto stores shelves slower than an overweight turtle walking backwards. For example, in terms of football titles, since November, Madden 2002 has had the virtual gridiron all to itself. Many consider the Madden Franchise to be the best football series ever made, and the GameCube version certainly does nothing to hurt that reputation. However, while EA Sports' perennial powerhouse might be an excellent football game, until recently, it was the only football game. And considering the fact that PS2 owners have no less than five football titles to choose from, GameCube owners can't help but be just a little jealous (Come on now, admit it!).

But wait, there's finally good news for us GameCubers, because Acclaim Sports has finally released NFL QB Club 2002 'the well-known football franchise which gained celebrity status during the N64 heyday. Based on prerelease marketing material, the GameCube version promises to deliver the ultimate football simulation with state-of-the-art graphics, game play, and control (Gee, where have I heard that before?). Featuring all 31 NFL teams and their stadiums, over 1500 NFL players, TV-style presentation, and five modes of play, including the ever-popular "Quarterback Challenge," NFL QB Club 2002 takes the hand-off and heads for the end zone. So, how does it stack up against the champ? Well, it's time for the kick-off and you've won the toss. Remember: stay focused, keep yer head up, and for heaven's sakes, don't go out of bounds!

Gameplay, Controls, Interface

NFL QB Club 2002 features the standard play modes of Exhibition, Season, Practice, and Playoffs. Acclaim has also added a Simulation Mode, in which you can create and play in unique game scenarios based upon your input of several different variables. Among other things, you can choose your teams, select the quarter, and set the time remaining, as well as the score of the game. Once you've created your scenario, snap on your chinstrap and lead your team to victory. Create scenarios based on great games from the past, or create "what if" scenarios limited only by your imagination. NFL QB Club 2002 is not the first game to incorporate a "create a scenario" feature, but it's a welcome addition nonetheless and serves well to extend the life of the game. Fans of the series will be happy to know that the one play mode, which is unique to the football franchise, is back and better than ever. Of course, I'm referring to the legendary NFL Quarterback Challenge. You and up to seven of your friends can choose among the top quarterbacks in the league (as well as some of the lesser known ones) to compete in the very same events covered in the actual televised broadcast in Hawaii. These include Speed and Mobility, Accuracy, Read and Recognition, and Long Distance Throw. The QB Challenge is extremely well done and a lot of fun to play, especially if you're looking to kill some time with some of your buddies. I found it to be quite enjoyable even while playing solo. Unfortunately, the game lacks a franchise mode. Considering that it has become a staple in most of today's sport games, I am puzzled as to why Acclaim elected to omit this feature. Gamers who have come to depend on multiple-season play will be disappointed for sure.

While the game lacks a franchise mode, it does have a pretty nifty General Manager Mode. Here you can trade players, draft free agents and check the depth charts of any team in the league. It also has a create-a-player feature, which allows you to create and save up to 22 custom players. Once created, you can import them to the team of your choice.

The play-calling screen is handled somewhat differently than what you're used to seeing in other football games. You choose your formation and play by scrolling up and down from within a small box that appears on the left side of the screen. On the main screen, however, you only get to view one play at a time. This makes play calling unnecessarily time consuming and cumbersome. Before playing a game, I suggest you go to the practice field a few times in order to learn your playbook. Acclaim has added a new twist to the defensive play-calling screen. In addition to choosing your formation (3-4, 4-3, nickel...etc.) and type of play (stunt, crash right, safety blitz...etc.), you can also choose the type of coverage to favor either the run or pass.

One of the game's strong points is player control, which is strictly of the arcade variety, so those of you interested in real-world based player physics should apply elsewhere. Whether you're running or passing, control is tight and responsive. Players will cut, spin, and juke on command, with no discernable lag between button presses and player movement. While the passing interface offers nothing new or revolutionary, its design is simple and it does get the job done. Before pass plays you can pan the playing field to check your available receivers. Like most other games in the genre, each receiver becomes highlighted with an icon corresponding to one of the controller buttons. Snap the ball, locate the open receiver, and fire away. Unfortunately, while it may be easy to get the ball to your receivers, catching the ball is a completely different matter. Read on.

In some areas, the AI is quite competent. In general, the CPU will call timeouts and use the clock in an appropriate manner. It will also mix up its play calling quite nicely, which means on defense, you have to be on your toes at all times. In other areas, however, the buffoon-like CPU will leave you scratchin' your head in frustration. As mentioned above, control is tight and responsive, but that doesn't necessarily mean that your players will perform as intended. Often times, you're left at the mercy of things you can't control. On run plays for example, you can cut, spin, and juke all you want, but often times your offensive linemen will offer no assistance (now I know why they're called "offensive")'line blocking is rudimentary at best. During pass plays, your receivers, infected with the dreaded droppsies, will drop everything in sight (I wonder if they can catch a controller thrown at their head?). Sure, you can press a button to jump or dive, but doing so should not be a prerequisite to catching a ball thrown right in their hands. Hey, is this Pop Warner football or the NFL?

If there's one thing that'll kill single-player game play, it's the dreaded money plays, and this game has them in spades. No matter which team you control, you can easily find at least two or three pass plays that will carry you throughout most of the game. Sadly, things don't improve very much even when you crank up the difficulty level.

Graphics

I'll start off by saying this, "If these are state-of-the-art graphics, then it's a sad state indeed." The graphics in NFL QB Club 2002 are disappointing to say the least. Taking into account the power of the GameCube, my level of expectation was considerably higher. Hey, I've seen NFL Fever foor the Xbox, and while I won't get into a comparison debate over the audio/visual potential of the two competing consoles, as a complete package, I find the graphics to be average at best. Sure, there are some positives to note. There are a decent variety of player sizes and shapes (whoopee!) and the developers have scanned the faces of many of your favorite NFL players. Helmets are also nicely modeled with ample lighting effects and realistic NFL logos. However, as compared to the aforementioned Fever, or even Madden for that matter, the player models are rather bland, lacking in both texture quality and detail.

Stadium models display an acceptable level of detail and likeness to their real-life counterparts. However, the sidelines are minimally populated with just a smattering of bench players, the chain gang, and other minor sideline accoutrements. Like blotches of paint on a canvas, the people in the stands are depicted as a horrifying mess of uneven color (at least I think they're people-could be barnyard animals for all I know!). On the plus side, assorted weather effects like rain and snow, as well as the lighting effects of day and night games, provide a believable game time atmosphere.

Regrettably, the real disappointment in the visuals begins to unfold once you see this game in motion. Although the game boasts over 1500 motion-captured animations, more often than not, they come off extremely choppy. Before the snap, players will dart around like a Chinese fire drill. During the actual play itself, an apparent lack of animation frames, will cause player movements to appear disjointed and uneven. As a result, running backs and blockers will pivot and change direction in an unrealistic manner. In addition, tackling animations are extremely inconsistent. In some instances, you'll see big hits and gorgeous wrap tackles. However, all too frequently, you'll also see a defender barely brush up against the ball carrier, who then crumbles to the turf like he was hit by a Mack truck'laughable, to say the least. After each play, you'll be able to view an instant replay. You can highlight the player of your choice, rotate the field, and zoom in on the action. Then again, with animations this poor, I'm not so sure you'll want to.

Audio

Quality sound effects can go a long way in adding to a game's appeal'average or poor sound effects can detract. Unfortunately, NFL QB Club 2002 offers the latter. As a matter of fact, they kinda remind me of what we use to hear during the good ol'16-bit glory years. Of course, ten years ago, developers were limited by the hardware. No such excuse today, though. The grunts and groans of the players, the crowd noises, and even the commentary are substandard at best.

Kevin Harlan handles the play-by-play, while Bill Maas executes the color commentary. The first thing you'll notice is that, well, they just don't say very much. Though, I suppose it's better than rambling on and on about a bunch of nonsense. For the most part, the broadcast duo will remark at the conclusion of each play, with very few significant observations made in-between. At any rate, the commentary is monotonous, repetitive and most of the time, downright inaccurate. During one sequence, right after my receiver dropped an easy pass (that hit him square in the hands, I might add!), Mr. Harlan comments, "That's an incomplete pass that sailed over his head, Bill." "Oh really, I think this controller is gonna sail over your head!" (My controller's getting a real workout in this game). Sorry, but I think it's time for commentary to either put up or shut up!

Bottom Line

When all is said and done, I'm afraid you'll find NFL QB Club 2002 to be pretty much the same old story. Of course, for some of you, that's not necessarily a bad thing'if you've always been a big fan of the series and somehow the new Madden doesn't float yer boat (whatta you nuts?), then you'll probably like this version too. Yes, the QB Challenge Mode is back, and quite frankly, it's still a blast to play. But for this reviewer, with drab graphics, poor animation, an unforgivable audio package, and several game play and AI issues once again rearing their ugly heads, this game is a hurtin' turkey for sure. I don't know, methinks it may be time to shoot this sucker and finally put it out of its misery! And by the way, if you [read my review on the PS2 version]), you'll notice that I dropped this score an additional five points. The developers had ample time to fix things up. But, did they? NOPE!

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