|Review by Matt Paprocki||Microsoft||Sports|
|Graphics: 9||Sound: 9.5||Gameplay: 8||Overall: 8.5|
|This game is kinda like a flashback.
Back when the Dreamcast first launched, NFL 2K was one of it's best selling and playing
launch titles. For a first-time effort, it was an incredible game and it still holds up
today. Microsoft has pulled off the same feat with their first football title on the
X-Box, NFL Fever 2002.
Fever begins with one of the most adrenaline pumping intros in the history of sports games, immediately giving players the NFL feel. The games packed options keep the replay value high with an excellent franchise mode. This feature will keep players enthralled through as many seasons as they wish. Players leave, retire, quit due to injuries, or get fed up with your team and will begin having outrageous salary demands. Of course, all stats are tracked and playing through specific numbers of seasons unlocks more stuff. A nifty new feature allows players to unlock hidden (and ridiculously powerful) teams by beating them in their home stadiums. (The Roman colesium is a personal fave) These stadiums also become playable in the muti-player mode once they're unlocked.
Comparing this game to Madden is almost hard to do. Fever simply crushes EA's sloppy port in every graphical area. Zooming in on something as simple as the ball reveals bump-mapping over the entire surface and players always make sure to keep their eyes on the ball. The jerseys are authentic down to the smallest details and the stadiums couldn't look any better. The sidelines are fuly animated with low-poly count players (which actually still look better that the on-field players in Gameday 2001 on the PS2) and cameras that track the action. Weather directly affects the game as snow will cover the yard lines making it tough to see how far you must go for a 1st down, much like the real game. The crowd is the only downer as the flat, same-colored sprites look nasty compared to the on-field action.
The gameplay is a mix between Segas NFL 2K2 and Madden. The running game is PERFECT, but slightly simplistic, especially on the easier difficulty levels. The short passing game is also exquisite, but tossing a long bomb can be extremely frustrating. A marker will appear showing players where the ball is headed which makes getting in position to catch the ball simple, but this also alerts the defenders to the position and the computer is simply relentless. No less than 3 defenders will crowd the are a majority of the time making a catch lucky and interceptions common. While a few passes will get off without a hitch, the vast majority have problems. Kicking field goals and extra points also seems overly difficult with a speedy directional meter that doesn't seem to be very accurate. The other gameplay downer is the fact that the computer seems to take control of your players at certain points (like when beginning a run), not allowing players to make their own choices as to what direction they want to move.
While the gameplay has few problems, the sounds do not. Music tracks are ripped directly from the NFL Films archive and the games theme song is perfect. Once on the field, the games dual-announcing team provide excellent commentary, only occasionaly falling behind. Player specific taunts can be heard before the ball is snapped and the music that blares from the stadium speakers puts you on the field.
The gameplay may have it's faults and it may seem like this is a pathetic football game from the above review, but be assured that this is THE football game for the console. Maddens gameplay has turned stale, but Fever is an entirely new ballgame. The above mentioned flaws are annoying, but these can be easily overlooked once you begin playing and get used to some of the stranger game quirks. Anyone who considers themselves a football fan needs this game...now.
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Last updated: Sunday, April 22, 2007 08:41 PM