ESPN NFL2K5

Review

posted 7/30/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: Xbox
When you’re constantly getting beaten down by your main rival you have to resort to some pretty extreme measures in order to remain competitive. Understanding this very concept, the boys at SEGA and Visual Concepts have rededicated themselves to bringing down Electronic Arts and the juggernaut known as Madden. It begins with the bargain bin price tag but it doesn’t end there. Look past the $19.99 sticker price and you have what could very well be the best football game ever made.

The ads all tell you that the game sells for $19.99 but you’d never know that by playing it. Nothing about the game tells you that it should be selling at such a low price. A pricey cover athlete, slick visuals, great gameplay and a feature rich online aspect are just the beginning of this boat and RV show. SEGA owns the ESPN license and it seems like in the year 2004, it’s the first time that they’ve really fully taken advantage of it. All of the interfaces, graphics and tricks that are used in the Sunday Night broadcasts are here in full force along with some of Visual Concepts own unique tricks. What you have is a game that not only plays like the game of football, but looks like it as well.

At the core of the game is the franchise mode. If you’ve played a sports game in recent years you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in to. But the designers decided to take the aspect one step further by allowing you to prepare your athletes before the big dance every Sunday. If you choose to enable the option, you’ll be able to setup workout regiments for all of your players for each day. Do it correctly and you’ll be able to boost their attributes and improve their overall abilities. Work them too hard and you’ll burn them out before the big game. This aspect will probably be overlooked by many people who are in a hurry to get onto the field, but will definitely be appreciated by die-hard fans who know how much preparation goes into each and every game.


Savor this shot Philly fans, because you'll NEVER see TO lay out like this ever again.

Making a return is the First Person Football mode of gameplay which essentially puts you under the helmet of your favorite NFL players. It was included in last year’s game but its execution caused it to be more of a gimmick than a viable gameplay mechanism. In 2K5 it’s still a little difficult to actually play FPF with any kind of consistent success, but it’s still a blast to play. It’s amazing just how well the designers were able to recreate the feeling of being down on the field and in the trenches. To further engulf you, the game removes the commentary track while you’re in this mode so that you can better hear the action as it surrounds you. This innovative mechanism is fun to partake in every so often, let’s just hope that Visual Concepts finds a way to make it a primary gameplay option instead of a sideshow attraction.

I’ve always had some difficulties with the passing game in the NFL2K franchise and it carries over to this version. It just feels like the game was designed with running as the primary option and passing as the secondary option. Linebackers break through the O-line too easy, turning pocket passers into dead meat. To even up the odds a bit QBs have been given some new evasive maneuvers, but they come at a hefty cost. Throwing a lineman off of you will take a good second, leaving you open to another attack. Passing can also be made difficult at-times because the defense is hard to read. When dropping back to pass it’s a little hard to see who’s open and who’s being covered. Sometimes the passing game works well, but most of the time I found myself using it as a second option to the run game.
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