When Sega first unleashed Visual Concepts' gridiron tour de force late last year, you could feel the Earth move. After years of watching EA's venerable Madden series dominate the genre with little opposition, NFL 2k came in and shook up the status quo. Football games would never be the same again. Offering unparalleled graphics, hi-speed, hi-res 6ofps gameplay and the best passing game since the original Tecmo Bowl, NFL 2K was a mighty force. That's not to say it was perfect, however. It was very difficult, if not impossible, to get a ground game going and there was no franchise mode. That is all going to change as Sega is set to make real history this time with NFL 2K1, possibly the most important sports game of the year. While the game retains the same overall look, the graphics have been touched up, giving the players and stadiums a slightly more detailed look; the game now features a franchise mode, which will let you field your team 'til they're older than the Dallas Cowboys.
While Madden 2001 for the PS2 might offer equally slick graphics when it launches later this year, will you be able to play with seven of your closest friends via a low-latency Internet link-up?
No. The most exciting new feature for 2K1 is the Internet play, and we had the chance to try it out firsthand, playing against the developers in San Rafael, Calif. You meet in a virtual lobby and can hook up for a game with other gamers hanging around, or wait for friends to meet up with you, just like a PC game. While there is just a slight difference in feel than the one-player game, there's virtually no lag time, and control remains responsive and tight. NFL 2K1 also features downloadable mid-to-late-season VMU patches via Seganet, so that should a team explode into contention out of nowhere (can you say, "St. Louis"?), their stats will be upgraded accordingly.
The competition may be a bit tougher this year with the impending PS2 football games looming ever closer, but NFL 2Ki's awesome Internet play makes it the pigskin contest to beat when it ships this fall.
Download NFL 2k1
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
Sega Sports has ramped things up for NFL 2K1. The framerate and passing have been improved, and the whole game runs about 20 percent faster than the original NFL 2K. Most importantly, you can get some real zip on the ball. On the graphics side, they've added polys to the player models, and our biggest gripe with the last edition, the running game, has been revised. Look for this SegaNet-ready title in the fall.
What's the deal?
"People who will play NFL 2K1 will walk away with a grin on their face," says Visual Concepts' Rustin Lee. Last year, Sega was all smiles after the warm reception gamers gave NFL 2K, but now there are expectations to meet. Explains Lee, "Every football game out there has a label: 'It plays great, but looks horrible,' 'It looks amazing, but has no gameplay,' or even worse--'It's about the same as last year.'"
Chances are, that last label won't be attached to NFL 2K1, since it's the first console football game to have online play. "They can expect to be blown away by the fact that there is virtually no difference between playing at home offline vs. being online," says Lee, who then concedes, "There is a tiny bit of latency you'll feel, but that's about it." The improvements don't stop there. "You'll be treated to new defensive line moves, bump-and-run coverage, true zone defense, zippier passes, an improved running game, new animations, true pump fakes and greater speed overall," Lee told us.
So why is it a must-get game?
Lee isn't blowing smoke in your helmet-NFL 2K1 really is very nimble online. Once in a while latency may slow the game down by a fraction, but we came away very impressed and satisfied knowing that we can log on and stuff our running back down someone's unwilling throat a few thousand miles away.