ESPN Football 2004
provides some of the best football graphics out there. Players (and coaches) are well designed and rendered. Sega also did a nice job of rendering the stadiums. The grass looks good and it does degrade nicely during the game. There are a lot of nice graphical touches in the game. During day games, you’ll occasionally see clouds or blimps drift overhead casting shadows into the stadium.
The player animations are also excellent and very realistic. Running and passing animations are also top-notch. I was especially impressed with how well the breaking tackles animations are. I really didn’t see any awkward transitions between animations either. Another cool little touch is that you can actually see the officials throw the flags for penalties.
The only thing I really had a problem with is that really big hits are few and far between. You usually got one really nice replay worthy in NFL Fever 2004
but I really can’t remember getting more than one or two in all of the time I played ESPN Football 2004
which is a bit disappointing. There are a lot of little big hits (especially watching Eddie George blow through small cornerbacks) but not a great deal of really memorabl hits.
There were a few other little things that were annoying. Since this is ESPN, you have to have the gratuitous cheerleader shot between quarters. The problem is that the cheerleaders look to be the same model but with different hair and skin color. I realize that cheerleaders are kind of fake in real life but this is a bit extreme. The other annoying thing is that the selection cursor sometimes stays on a little too long when it goes into replays, which sucks because you have these great replays but there’s a selection cursor that pulls you out the game for a minute or two.
The sounds in ESPN Football 2004
are hit and miss. The in game sounds are excellent featuring a lot of nice hitting sounds, trash talk between players, and crowd noise. The game also does an excellent job of incorporating all of the signature ESPN sounds. From the class ESPN music to the chimes that alert you to the score of other games, it’s in the game and it does a lot to enrich the experience. There are also a lot of nice signature sounds for each individual. Unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets, as the rest of the audio work is a bit disappointing.
The announcers lasted about two games before starting to grate on the nerves. You would think they would put a counter in the game to ensure that the same cliché’s aren’t used more than once or twice a game but sadly that’s not the case. Since you can turn them off, it’s not a big deal right? Wrong, you can turn them down but not off which forces you to still go through some of the announcer related activities (such as discussions of penalties, circling key blocks, etc). You can skip through them but it’s still a bit frustrating to do so.
Another annoying audio bit is the stadium background music. There’s not a lot of variety to the music and it’s mostly (c)Rap. You can use your own MP3’s for the music in the Crib so I was a little disappointed that you couldn’t setup your own stadium music as well.
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