It’s fall. The time of beautiful leaves, Thanksgiving, and, of course, football. People across the country are strapping on pads and hurling themselves at one another in what has become America’s #1 sport. This is also the time for all of the major players to release their NFL football games. Madden is the top dog of the football world, having been around for over 14 installments. With the launch of the Xbox, Microsoft wanted its own football franchise and thus begat NFL Fever. NFL Fever 2004
is the launch title for Microsoft’s new XSN sports brand. Featuring a central online hub to setup leagues and matches, XSN is Microsoft’s biggest foray into online play. XSN allows you to form online leagues and tournaments for you and your buddies. You can create leagues with four to 12 friends and XSN will organize games, track your statistics, and show you who’s winning the season. It’s a nice feature and given that it’s free with the purchase of the game it’s a great deal.
The sound in NFL Fever 2004
is hit and miss. I know each sports game has to have play by play announcers. It’s a feature that has to be in each game but honestly, how many people leave the announcers on after the first few games? NFL Fever 2004
features Kevin Calabro and Ron Pitts and while they aren’t bad, they aren’t great either. They lasted for about five games for me before getting annoying and repetitive and turned off.
Thankfully, the in-game sounds make up for the annoying announcers. The game features great hitting sounds, nice solid crunches where you can almost feel the hits in the game. The game has some other nice touches, like trash talking at the line of scrimmage between players, decent crowd noise (although I didn’t hear the famous J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS chant during a home Jets game). Rain games also feature some nice thunder in the background.
The graphics in NFL Fever 2004
are excellent for the most part. During the replays there is a bit of a halo effect around the players but the rest of the graphics are fantastic. Rain games offer some nice visual touches as well. From players getting muddy during the course of the game, to nice splashes around the players during the game, and the field degrading from grass to mud over the course of the game, the graphics add a touch of realism.
The animations of the game are, like-wise, excellent. Players move and run in a realistic manner for the most part. Although, occasionally they seem to be a little too robotic. The hitting in the game is fierce and on a few occasions I went back into the replay to watch a nice bone-crushing hit. A nice visual touch is the receiver routes are color coded to match the corresponding button for that receiver.
The stadiums are rendered well (although there seemed to be a few too many fans in Paul Brown Stadium). Besides all of the standard NFL stadiums, the folks at Microsoft added three additional stadiums. If you ever wanted to play a football game on the deck of a carrier, in a roman coliseum, or in near the pyramids, than you are in luck. They are a little cheesy but a nice touch to the game.
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