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ESPN NFL PrimeTime 2002
Publisher: Konami of America, Inc.
Developer: FarSight Studios
Style(s): Football (American)
Synopsis: ESPN lends its name and distinctive style of presentation in this Xbox port of the 2001 PS2 game. In addition to the show's theme song, menu screens, and graphics, the license includes commentary by veteran broadcaster Chris Berman and former NFL great Tom Jackson. NFL teams and players with stats and ratings from the 2000 season are available in four game modes: Exhibition, Franchise, Practice, and Tournament. Field conditions, weather, and scenarios can be adjusted before each Exhibition game. Franchise mode spans 15 consecutive seasons of evaluating rookies to draft, managing the salary cap, and dealing with injuries. If an athlete isn't performing up to standards, he can be cut and replaced with a free agent or newly created player. Up to five team members can be put on the trading block before soliciting offers from CPU owners. Franchise games can either be played or simulated. If the simulation option is selected, would-be coaches can set up a game plan on both offense and defense by adjusting sliders to account for aggression, tendency (pass or run), defensive blitzing and coverage. Players can also target specific threats on the opposing team to adjust coverage for. The status of injured athletes is monitored from the Franchise menu as well. Practice mode promotes team and playbook familiarity by letting players carry out specific plays anywhere on the field against an optional defense. Up to 16 teams can face off in a Tournament, using either Elimination or Round Robin formats. Options include four difficulty levels, a fantasy draft, and the ability to modify team rosters. As in the other modes, all user profiles, statistics, and progress can be saved to the hard drive. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Package Contents: 40-page Instruction Manual
All of the various options and controls are clearly explained. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The menu graphics are among the best yet seen in a football game, but the individual players need some work. Animation is adequate but at times inconsistent (players look stiff walking to the huddle). ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
Originally scheduled for release on the PS2 in 2000, ESPN NFL PrimeTime was held up to tweak a number of areas before going head-to-head against the big guns from EA and Sega. This is Konami's first football game since 1996's disastrous NFL Full Contact, and the first of a planned franchise with ESPN's backing. The end-result shows definite promise, but is unable to compete with the tried-and-true gameplay of either Madden or NFL 2K2. Not surprisingly, the title's biggest strength is the use of its license. There's something immediately appealing about a sports game that closely follows a TV-style presentation, and when that TV presentation involves ESPN, it's hard not to take notice. Chris Berman in the booth has more personality than any of his video game peers, with changes in pitch and inflection to accentuate excitement or disappointment. Nicknames, such as Jay Fiedler "On the Roof," are also nice touches. Of course, his famous "He could...go...all..the...way" is played whenever you race down the sidelines, and his yell of "Fumble!" will bring a smile to your face even if it's your player he's talking about. At times the banter between TJ and Chris is reminiscent of the commentary in NFL 2K2, meaning you actually think they're part of the game instead of robots spitting out scripted catch phrases. Unfortunately, the rest of the presentation isn't up to the level of the sound. Animation is generally fine, especially in the variety of tackles, but the graphics look as if they are being shown through a light haze. Colors are washed out and images lack clarity. Player models are also weak, with emotionless faces and bodies that seem out of whack. Players in this game have long arms with huge hands, and because of the washed-out color, look more like sickly zombies rather than the best and brightest the NFL has to offer. The most glaring problem is the game's "feel." Control is responsive, but the action doesn't come off as fluidly as in other football games. Passes seem too slow and hang in the air too long, but it's not always easy to pick them off because defenders only "jump" a few inches off the ground. Other areas where it seems there's something amiss include running and tackling. Running the ball is especially difficult, as contact with any defender instantly brings the ball carrier down. With the game improperly balanced toward passing, it is not uncommon to toss 50 to 60 yard bombs at least four to five times per game on the default setting. All you have to do is wait for the receiver to pass the defensive back and it's money in the bank. Short passes are more difficult to pull off because of the sluggish feel of the passing game, and receivers rarely catch the ball on the run. While individual slider bars can be adjusted to address some of the deficiencies, gameplay never seems cohesive. ESPN NFL PrimeTime isn't a hopeless effort, as there is enough groundwork here that could be polished to make a game worthy of the competition. The ESPN license is certainly a plus, as is the commentary, and the basic animation and graphics can be refined after spending more time in development. A bigger concern is making the game play closer to football, which is not an easy task. Despite an extra year in development, Konami's game is still not quite ready for prime time. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
ESPN NFL PrimeTime features a robust Franchise mode that would be extremely fun if the game played better. The game could use more modes of play as well. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
While NFL 2K2 still has the best commentary, PrimeTime's play-by-play is entertaining because of the two announcers. A nice touch is music playing from the PA system after you score a touchdown. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
The passing and running games could use some tweaking to make them more fluid. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide
the game requires Joystick/Gamepad.