NFL Gameday 2003

NFL Gameday 2003

Written by Charlie Sinhaseni on 10/15/2002 for PS2  
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NFL Gameday, two words that can bring even the most devoted football fan to their knees. Residing in the bowels of gaming obscurity in recent years, and a surefire straight-to-bargain-bin title, 989 Sports’ horrendous series has truly become the Jean Claude Van Damme of video games. But this year’s game was full of hope, the crew at Sony assured us that the mistakes of last year’s game were being reworked and the series was being rebuilt for success. This year’s game is set to be the foundation but is it solid enough to carry last year’s burden? Not even close.

989 Sports has really changed the standards of gaming, and it’s for the worst. It’s almost like there is a checklist that the designers go through to make sure the game is up to ‘standards.’ Crappy models? Check. Inane AI? Check. Sluggish controls? Check. Cheesy animation? Check. Adequate space on the packaging to fit in the words ‘Now at the low bargain bin price of $19.99?’ Check that too.

Let’s see what you get with this year’s ‘update.’ Let’s take a gander at what this year’s packaging is touting:

“60 frames per second gameplay deliver the ultimate NFL gaming experience”

This is an honest statement but unfortunately, it works against Gameday much more than it works for it. The faster frame rate further exposes the horrid animation that is prevalent throughout the majority of the game. You’ll see players who look like they’re gliding around the field rather than running on it, tacklers that magically hurl themselves at ball carriers without building up steam and passes that look like they’re flying in fast forward. The speedier game just makes the game feel cheesier and further exposes the awkward and unserviceable animations.

I’m not sure where they’re getting the “ultimate NFL gaming experience” tagline from. Maybe they’re talking about NFL Europe where the production values rival those of my local Public Access channel.

“Football like you’ve never seen or played before”

Oh this statement rings true in far too many instances. You’ll know that it’s “football like you’ve never seen or played before” when you see your defense stand idly by as the opposing halfback runs right by them. You’ll also know that it’s “football like you’ve never seen or played before” when you see your linebacker dive right through the opposing quarterback as he sets up in the pocket. Then there are the times when the computer D will call a prevent-type play when I’ve got the ball on the one yard line. Maybe 989 Sports’ new tagline should be “If it’s in the game, it’s NOT in the game.”
“Choose from every game mode imaginable”

All right, so I admit I was pretty excited to hear about this one but yet again, the game manages to let me down. The much hoped for “Chase the Quarterback around the field with the monster truck” mode wasn’t present in this year’s edition. Also, the adolescent male favorite ‘Cheerleader pileup mode” was also noticeably absent. Somebody call the Better Business Bureau!

“Team wins with game online”

Yet another false statement because everyone who comes in contact with this game automatically loses. The only true winners are the people who are making bundles of cash off of this one. All right, maybe not bundles, but probably enough for at least one trip to Chuck E Cheese.

“Balanced Gameplan Means Victory”

This is funny because in Gameday, everything means victory. Interceptions are ridiculously easy to come by, and every play you run will net you at least 5+ yards. I’ve even managed to intercept a pass with a lineman right after it was released from the QB. I guess it’s the old ‘catch the one hundred mph football and return it for a TD’ maneuver. Just like the hardnosed defense of the Cleveland Browns planned it in practice. Of course there’s the tendency of the ball to magically end up in WR’s hands in triple coverage but that’s “football like you’ve never seen or played before.” Just like the 500 yards of passing that I had with Drew Brees of the San Diego Chargers, whoops, did I neglect to mention that was just in the first half? Oh well, not like the Steelers can play pass D or anything.

“Offseason Signings, Draft Pay Big Dividends”

I’m beginning to think that the only “offseason signings” that Gameday picked up were for dealing with the marketing of the game. The advertising and the packaging of the game is just awesome, kudos to 989 Sports for picking up a great marketing team. Now if only they could acquire some people to perform something called ‘quality control.’ It’s an experimental concept but I’m told it does wonders for a game.

Speaking of quality control, this game has perhaps the worst refereeing AI to appear in a next generation football game. For starters, the ball isn’t marked at where the carrier’s knee goes down, but rather, where he ends up at the end of the play. This means that if you tackle someone a few yards outside of the end zone and he happens to roll into the endzone (even after his knee is clearly down) he’ll be awarded the TD. Then there are the instances where I can tackle a wide-receiver as he’s running his route and not get called for defensive pass interference or the computer’s blatant late hits on my QB that go unpenalized, but let’s not mention them all, I don’t want to be here all night.
Let’s be honest here, the game introduces some nice concepts but really screws up when trying to execute them. The controls, which are sluggish to begin with, are horribly over complicated. You’d think that a game this simple and underdeveloped would at least be easy to play, but then again, you’d be wrong. There are “advanced” moves that are supposed to help you on the gridiron but quite frankly, they just make you look like an even bigger ass (assuming that you realize you’re already an ass for buying the game). Let’s see, you can prance around, jump really high but not high enough to get over defenders, and you can spin in place and stop any momentum you had going towards the goal line. Wow, talk about advanced! Now I can see why it takes such effort to execute them, so that the designers could obscure them and hope no one ever finds out about them.

You can give every eligible receiver a hot route in order to mix it up and confuse the D. To it’s credit, the multiple hot routes feature works quite well except I really can’t see a QB in real life dealing out such complicated orders. I’ve used it on a few occasions online and have noticed that it really doesn’t make too much of a difference anyways. The coverage will often times run the route ahead of the offense. Most times it seems like the defensive ends know the routes better than the receivers, not very realistic.

To keep along with the good points the announcing team remains strong. Though it seems like some lines were recycled from last year’s game, it’s not as irritating as some of the other games. The rest of the game’s noises are the usual football game fodder.

Online play is fairly stable, though some people are some real lag hogs. At times it’s nearly impossible to play a game during peak usage hours and dial up players should avoid it entirely. Yet again, serviceable but nothing that beats out the competition.

Life’s full of mysteries but perhaps none of them are as puzzling as this one pile of steaming defecate. Year after year, the gaming community is forced to swallow yet another bitter pill and it’s time 989 Sports realized this. Washing a piece of crap may make it look better but it will never remove the smell and trust me, nothing can remove the evil stench from this huge pile of dung. Kill the franchise, bury it in a remote location and bomb the living hell out of it. Avoid 989’s latest Excrapaganza like the plague. Gamers deserve much much better than this, shame on 989 Sports for throwing this filth upon the unsuspecting public.
Though this edition improves upon many of last year's faults, it lags so far behind the competition that there is absolutely no reason to purchase it. Avoid this excrapaganza at all costs, especially if you value your sanity.

Rating: 4.7 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

Gaming has been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. I can still recall many a lost nights spent playing Gyromite with that stupid robot contraption for the old NES. While I'm not as old as the rest of the crew around these parts, I still have a solid understanding of the heritage and the history of the video gaming industry.

It's funny, when I see other people reference games like Doom as "old-school" I almost begin to cringe. I bet that half of these supposed "old-school" gamers don't even remember classic games like Rise of the Triad and Commander Keen. How about Halloween Harry? Does anyone even remember the term "shareware" anymore? If you want to know "old-school" just talk to John. He'll tell you all about his favorite Atari game, Custer's Revenge.

It's okay though, ignorance is bliss and what the kids don't know won't hurt them. I'll just simply smile and nod the next time someone tells me that the best entry in the Final Fantasy franchise was Final Fantasy VII.

When I'm not playing games I'm usually busy sleeping through classes at a boring college in Southern Oregon. My current hobbies are: writing songs for punk rock bands that never quite make it, and teasing Bart about... well just teasing Bart in general. I swear the material writes itself when you're around this guy. He gives new meaning to the term "moving punching bag."

As for games, I enjoy all types except those long-winded turn-based strategy games. I send those games to my good pal Tyler, I hear he has a thing for those games that none of us actually have the time to play.

When I'm not busy plowing through a massive pile of video games I spend all of my time trying to keep my cute little girl fed. She eats a ton but damn she's so hot. Does anyone understand the Asian girl weight principal? Like they'll clean out your fridge yet still weigh less than 110 pounds.

Currently I'm playing: THUG, True Crime, Prince of Persia, Project Gotham 2 and Beyond Good & Evil. View Profile

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