Review by Will Matson



Graphics: 9

Sound: 10

Gameplay: 9

Overall: 9

I will open by saying that NFL2K1 for the Sega Dreamcast is the best football game I have ever played on any system. Now that I have established that, let's get down to business. NFL2K1 is the second game in the three game series of NFL2K games for the Dreamcast, the final and most recent being NFL2K2. This series, rightfully so, helped put the Dreamcast on the map and provided some stiff competition to Electronic Arts John Madden Football series (I personally like the NFL2K games better).

The first thing you will notice is the incredible graphics,

the players look huge and the fields look fantastic. All of the uniforms and stadiums are very realistic. This is a big step up from the 32 and 64-bit generations.

NFL2K1 sounds just like a real football game complete with running commentary, crowd noise/chants, hits and players trash talking. The commentary is very smooth and follows the game well, except for a few minor quibbles. Every so often, the commentators will say that a team that is being blown out still has a shot to win, even with under 2 minutes to go in the 4th quarter.

The commentary can get repetitive in places, particularly during the game introductions. For example, during my season with the New England Patriots, before the opening kickoff the commentating team said the exact same thing about receiver Terry Glenn for five straight games ("I am a big fan of Terry Glenn, he's got moves I've never seen before, etc....."). But these are very minor details for a game that sounds great otherwise.

As good as the graphics and sound are, NFL2K1 truly excels in the game play area. For starters, it is very easy to select plays, make substitutions, call timeouts, view replays and navigate the options/pause screen. The control on the field is probably the best I have ever seen in a sports game. Anyone who knows me knows that I usually despise analog control sticks, particularly on the Nintendo 64. However, I will concede and say that I couldn't imagine controlling the players on the field any other way than using the Dreamcast analog stick.

The stick allows for much more freedom in avoiding tackles and blockers. Passing is a much simpler process than any other football game I have played, just snap the ball and press the button to the corresponding receiver. The Maximum Passing option is for those who want their passing more simplified. Changing from one player to another is very convenient and when the play is in progress, pushing B automatically selects the player closest to the ball. Running plays are also easy to execute. The only really hard thing to pull off is field goal kicking, particularly from longer distances. However, if it makes you feel any better, the computer has a tough time with these kicks, too.

Don't misinterpret the ease of executing plays, though, as this being an easy game. What I mean is that it is easy to hand the ball off to somebody or launch a pass (this alone is a chore in some football games), but from there it is up to you to gain the yardage, catch the pass and avoid tackles or an interception. Despite some criticism, particularly from stalwarts of the Madden series, NFL2K1 is not an "arcade" football game (ala NFL Blitz). While one could argue that it may not be as in-depth as the Madden game, it is still a fine simulation that happens to be user-friendly.

There are three difficulty levels in this game (Rookie, Pro, All-Pro) and you can switch back and forth between them before or even during a game. The Rookie level can be mastered relatively easy but the two higher levels, particularly All-Pro, provide a much stiffer challenge that will keep you very busy. Even the Rookie level, though, can keep you busy depending on who you are using, who you are facing and if you happen to be playing carelessly.

The AI in this game is relatively good, with a couple exceptions. As mentioned before, the computer doesn't make many field goals longer than 30 yards. Secondly, the computer team sometimes punts the ball on 4th down when they are being blown out. This does benefit you, obviously, but is also puzzling. In these cases, you would expect the computer to go for it on 4th down. This is where the benefits of human players come in. Bring over some friends and the great action gets even better.

NFL2K1 has similar options to many other football games, including exhibitions, multi-player battles, franchise and season mode to name a few. A unique and ground-breaking feature is that NFL2K1 can be played online using the Sega Dreamcast's modem, online service and Sega keyboard (optional but more convenient). Almost a whole Visual Memory Unit is needed to save a season so be sure to pick up a few spare units.

As you can tell, this is obviously a top-notch game by Sega Sports. While I personally prefer this version to the later installment, NFL2K2, it will be exciting to see where this series goes in upcoming years on Gamecube, X-Box and Playstation 2. This particular game is a must-buy if you are into sports games and own a Dreamcast. I could play this game all day long and never get bored of it, it's that good. Try it out and see for yourself.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:29 PM