NFL Quarterback Club '99
Last year's sales winner in N64 football was NFL Quarterback Club 98. While I personally did not review this game, the reviewer seemed to have mixed emotions. On one hand, you have great graphics and the only NFL license on N64, but on the other hand, the AI was a bit on the suspect side. Well, Acclaim Sports has taken all the criticism to heart and has gone the extra yard with QB Club 99. Did they succeed, or will their reign at the top be short-lived?
So what do we have that is new this year, you ask? How about a totally revamped Artificial Intelligence system, 250 new motion captured animations, new graphics, a revised game engine and commentary by actual NFL announcers? To answer the question, a whole lot is new this year. The competition is quite a bit stiffer with Madden 99 in its second year and securing the NFL license. It is time to lace up those cleats, adjust your jock and get ready for some football lowdown.
There is something about this game that is different. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there is just something different. Anyway, this aside, there are plenty of things that are quite familiar. For one, the NFL license. That is right, all your favorite NFL players are here. Not only that, but you have teams from the WNFL as well. Sure, nobody knows any of these players, but it is still cool to have the option to play as them. You can never have too many options when it comes to selecting your teams.
As far as the overall interface and setup, QB Club 99 does a nice job. The menu system is very intuitive and easy to use. You can pop in the game and jump directly into a quick game, or you can delve deeper into the options. There is just about every option you could ever want out of a football sim. One thing that I did have a problem with was saving a season. I don't know if it was just me or if there is actually a problem here, but I never could figure out how to save a season.
There is still something that is really different about this game that I can't put my finger on. It is really starting to bother me. Anyway, you can have all the teams you want and the easiest menu system in the world, but that does not mean anything if it plays like crap. So how does it play? That is a tricky question. First, let's get one thing straight. This game plays like a sim more than an arcade-type game. If you are looking for an outrageous football game I suggest you check out NFL Blitz, because this game tends to lean more towards the simulation side of things. There are some arcade-style elements mixed in, but the overall feeling is simulation.
First off, it will take you at least five games before you are really comfortable playing this game. Since I did not play last year's version, I can't compare the gameplay between the two so I may be at a slight disadvantage, but I do play a ton of football games and it usually does not take me too long to get the hang of things. I am not really sure if this is good or bad. What it does mean is that it will take you a long time to master the game and I am still not good enough to beat the computer at all times. This is a definite advantage to the replay value.
I really had a tough time getting an inside ground game going. I could usually gain some yardage on sweeps to the outside or pitches, but I really had a tough time gaining more than 1 or 2 yards up the middle. Is this realistic? To a certain degree. It would have been nice to break a few of these runs up the gut to keep me trying, but as it was, I found myself staying away from running up the middle and only pushing the ball outside on the ground. One thing that was annoying about the running game was that for some reason the running back would react differently than what I expected. Let me explain. Let's say that I ran a pitch right. I would hike the ball and everyone started moving right. The QB then pitched the ball to the running back. For some reason, the running back would catch the pitch heading to the left. I just could not figure out why he did not just catch the pitch and continue to the right. That means in order to continue to the right, I would have to stop his momentum from going left and head right, costing valuable seconds. If I took him left, I could occasionally break off a long run, but since my blocking was set up to go the other direction, I usually got stuffed.
I am still trying to figure out what the hell it is about this game that is different. I just can't quite pinpoint it. Anyway, the area where this game feels most arcade-like is in the receiving. The passing can either be controlled by pointing the analog stick in the direction of a receiver and letting the computer decide which receiver is the best choice, or you can select which receiver to throw to by pressing one of the C buttons or the A&B buttons. What feels arcade-like is the fact that the majority of your catches are diving, sprawling catches. It was rare that I would have a receiver catch the ball in stride and continue running. When it did happen, it was a beautiful thing. On the down side, it seemed like there were way too many dropped passes by open receivers. I can't tell you how many times I had a receiver break past the defender and lay the ball in perfectly, only to have the stupid receiver drop the ball. Ok, this does happen in real life, but this is the NFL, Baby. Dropped passes should be the exception and not the rule.
I did have a couple of complaints about the game. First, the games tend to play at a snail's pace. Yes, it is cool to see your QB down on one knee drawing up the play in the huddle. It was not cool taking 10 seconds for the quarterback to walk up to the line and snap the ball. This was especially frustrating when the clock was winding down and I was trying to get off a quick play. It would have been nice to have a button to push to kick the QB's ass in gear and get him up to the line. Another thing that bothered me was that I felt removed from the action at times. There were too many plays on defense that just happened and I really felt like I had no control on the outcome. They just happened.
This game runs on a modified version of the All Star Baseball 99 game engine. I know it sounds weird that a football game is based on a baseball engine, but don't worry, it works great. What it also does is give the game great graphics (even without the expansion pak). The players look...wait a second, THAT'S IT! I just figured out what's so different about this game. The players look real! They are not block 3D polygons. They are realistically shaped and very detailed. My mind is so conditioned to seeing blocky polygon players that when I see realistic-looking players, it seems wrong to me. What a treat these graphics are. I think that just about everyone will agree that the bar has been raised to new heights. The only complaints I can think of are that I seemed to be back away from the action a little, and there was a very minimal amount of slowdown at times.
So now you are looking here to know which football game you should buy. Well, all I can tell you is that you won't go wrong buying either one. This game has some great features, and the player models are the best I have seen in any sports game to date. The somewhat distant feeling I got kept me from really loving this game, but it is definitely worth a look.
Download NFL Quarterback Club '99
More hi-res American football. Spoilt for choice on this department.
The finest American football game to have existed. The graphics are gorgeous and it plays a magnificient game of the 'ol gridiron'. Ahems, yes.
Last year's QBC suffered from the lack of a practice mode, forcing you to experiment with different plays in the unforgiving atmosphere of a full game. This time the designers have rectified that mistake and included a simple practice option where you can fine tune your tactics and mess around with the controls.
The historic simulation mode returns with 32 new scenarios, including last season's Superbowl upset Surprisingly, you can choose to play as either side, so you can play the scenario as the determined underdog and fight for a last-minute victory, or you can try to hold on to a slim lead under heavy pressure.
Iguana are the undisputed masters of the N64's hires modes, and QBC 99 contains some of their sharpest, most realistic visuals yet The stadiums are modelled in a similar style to All Star Baseball. with video screens dotted around displaying the action in miniature, and seamless soft-skinned players.
The variety of different motion captures is staggering. When a player breaks through a tackle he stumbles for a few paces before regaining his balance; the quarterback looks at the running back before faking a hand off and stepping back; players will shrug and stare angrily when they miss a pass.
With such a rich variety of animation, the best way to appreciate it in full is by using the replay mode. Move the camera around and you'll notice little details such as the logo on the ball, and the way the ball is actually caught and held by the receivers instead of being magically 'beamed' into their hands.
The rushing game is a huge improvement from the last QBC game. Players actually look like they're making tackles now. instead of bouncing off each other. If a weedy player tackles a giant running back around the ankles, he'll find himself dragged up the field and into (cough) a whole world of hurt. There are twice as many different moves as Madden (hurdle, spin, juke, han-off and two kinds of dive), so there's more scope to continue a powerful run well into the opposition's territory. Barging through the opposition's defence is incredibly satisfying.
Pressing R pulls the camera right back to get a view of the entire width of the field, and little N64 buttons appear over the heads of the receivers so you can tell who's who. It works exactly the same as last year's QBC except the vasty improved realism of the game means that the receivers have to be positioned more carefully to make the catch. To make things a bit easier, the players will wave frantically to grab your attention when they're unmarked.
By switching to analogue mode, you can pass to the receiver you're facing using just one button, as in NFL Blitz. Madden also includes a similar option, but it isn't likely to be used very much in either game, as the standard 'buttons' passing method is so much more precise.