NFL Gameday 2004


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 7

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8


If games were given credit simply on how much they improve, then there is little question that NFL Gameday and NCCA Gamebreaker would be huge releases. This series just died when it entered into the new era, losing the dominance it earned during the early Playstation era. The depressing thing here is that no matter how much it improved, it still never stood a chance.

nflgameday20041.jpg (43752 bytes)This is not a deep, involving football sim. This is the football game for newcomers. It's blatantly easy, and die-hard fans of Madden or the 2K series will laugh the entire time they play. That doesn't mean the strides made here are useless. This is the arcade brother of the two big franchises.

Passing is absurdly easy, running up the middle is usually guaranteed yards, and money plays are here to abuse once found. It's still very much NFL Gameday too. The physics are just off, allowing for absurdly powerful juke moves and turning without any speed loss. Wide receivers catch everything, not matter how hard they're hit.

What Gameday does right is defense. That doesn't mean the AI smart; on the contrary actually. Gameday makes playing defense fun and manageable for the person holding the controller. Following and sticking to a receiver is easy enough for anyone who just picks up and plays. Tackling is handled with enough brutality to make it satisfying too.

With all the flaws, this cannot be taken seriously as a sim, but as a middle of the road title, somewhere between NFL Blitz and the Madden series, it fits in just fine. It has a small section of the market to itself, with an accessible and somewhat real experience for newcomers. This is especially commendable when you remember just how awful previous years were, even in 2003.

nflgameday20042.jpg (42365 bytes)The graphics engine has been beefed up to a decent, if unremarkable, standard. Players are animated fine, and the faces are there, just not very spectacular. Aliasing is an issue, even when playing in progressive scan.

It's especially noticeable when navigating the front end, as a zoomed in player jukes his way to nowhere on the screen. The menus are dry, offering the usual assortment of game modes sports fans expect. The biggest complaint is the franchise mode, which requires players to be "the coach" in that they can be fired at the end of any season. Unless you manage a winning season each year, you're going to be kicked out, and there's no way to change that.

The three-man commentary team is excellent, keeping up with the field action without falling behind. Their phrases are limited and do become annoying after multiple games. On the field, you're going to expect the usual rounds of grunts and stadium music.

With a few more years, Gameday may have finally made its way into the realm of respectability. That's not going to happen, as the 989 team missed the 2005 season and EA now owns this section of the market. If you still like the feel of the 32-bit Gameday's, then this is the version you're looking for. You'll be better off pretending the other games were never released on the PS2.


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Last updated: Friday, September 09, 2005 04:43 PM