NFL GameDay 2004


posted 9/15/2003 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: PS2
Allow me to tell you a story. The year is 1997, Titanic was a box office hit, Simon and Garfunkel had decided to go on their sixty fifth reunion tour and the country was ruled by an adulterer. Yes times were good, so good in fact that 989 Sports was at the forefront of video gaming, especially when it came to pioneering video game technology. For you see, NFL Gameday 98 was the very first pro football game to utilize fully 3D models for its characters. Madden hadn’t done it, Sega hadn’t even thought about making a football game, yet 989 Sports was ahead of the pack, the leader of the class if you will. Then something went wrong, the gaming world made the leap from the PSOne to the PS2 and as it appeared, it was a plunge that 989 was reluctant to make and when it finally was ready, did so in a half-hearted fashion.

That’s right kids, I said that 989 Sports was at the top of the gaming heap. Keyword here? Was.

Now the company is the former shell of itself that you see today. Titles that are dated in both technology and features have become a mainstay of the quintessential 989 Sports title and endless amounts of ridicule tend to result from the kid who decided to pick up GameDay instead of Madden. Oh no, you didn’t want to be that kid, the one who opened up his presents on Christmas Eve and was greeted with a copy of NCAA GameBreaker or MLB.

But you know what? That was the past and as is the case with most things in life the gaming industry is cyclical. What must come up must come down and what went down is bound to come up sooner or later. Now is that time that GameDay has risen again and this latest 2004 iteration of the franchise is that faint glimmer of hope that hardcore 989 Sports mainstays have been looking for. Featuring an entirely revamped set of gameplay physics, newly polished visuals and a more realistic experience, GameDay came to the stadium to play, not ride the pine for the fourth consecutive year.

For starters, this is the most polished entry in the series to date. Sure there are still a few technological glitches here and there but the game finally looks and plays like real football. Less and less can you get away with running “money plays” without the defense picking up on your routines. In most instances the AI will quickly pick up on your schemes and react accordingly to stuff you before your plays can develop. Granted there are still a number of AI hiccups (the Defensive backs definitely did not come to play) but the overall AI is notch up from last year’s game.

Gameday 2004 also features the deepest franchise mode to grace a 989 Sports title to date. It allows you to take the reigns of your favorite team and guide them from relative obscurity to fortune and fame. In my case I took my always disappointing Chargers and transformed them from an 8-8 on the cusp team to a 10-6 Wildcard juggernaut in my first season. Damn straight, them Bengals never knew what hit them. Next season I was in the Super Bowl against the 12-4 Texans, all right, so the game’s not exactly perfect but I’ll take an easy win over Carr and the gang any day. There are some huge problems when it comes to realism in the simulation mechanism as well. I decided to sim four complete seasons and in three of them, the lowly Bengals won their division. Of course in real life the Bungles will most likely finish towards the end of their division like they do every year, Carson Palmer or not.
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