ESPN Football 2K5

ESPN Football 2K5
Game: ESPN Football 2K5
Platform: Playstation 2
Studio: Sega
Rating: 9.5/10

GAME STUDIO DESCRIPTION: It’s the season of the fan. The year of people coming together to celebrate sport. And uniting everyone is ESPN NFL 2K5, a coupling of the most responsive and intense gameplay around and the richest multi-player gaming experience possible. Everyone is getting in on the action with the help of our innovative V.I.P. system – allowing you to play your friends and top players as if they were sitting right next to you! So dust off those extra controllers, grab some chairs, and get your game on!

GRAPHICS: Gorgeous. ESPN boasts some of the most impressive graphics in any sports game. The animations are fluid and the fact that they are so in sync is what makes them great. When your running back cuts and jukes his feet move but his upper body remains square and facing up field. How often do you see a runner juke and his body continue to face the same way? 2K5 makes this work as it does in real game situations.

Everyone looks to the player faces to discuss how well a game looks and 2K5 has done a great job. Sure they occasionally look flat and angular however it’s getting better with each and every release. The uniforms look great and the crowds get better as do the cheerleaders.

This is the year that ESPN’s style has been truly incorporated into the game. With the scores running during the game, to the stats, halftime, and every other screen the style is all there and it’s fantastic.

PLAY: If you want a football game that is fun to play 2K5 is it. Much of the game play is similar to last season and that is a good thing. Thankfully the annoying issues that caused players grief last season have been fixed making for a near perfect release.

The running game has been given a helping hand by the additional movement of the right stick. You can now duck, stutter step, and juck with the stick. When playing quarterback you can step out of a rush and avoid that big sack by a move of the stick.

Defensive play has changed a little. Your line, if stout, can find their way to the quarterback more often even if they don’t sack they can disrupt the pass. Interceptions aren’t as rampant as they were last year. Instead many balls are deflected and get juggled around. It’s much closer to the play in the NFL when an unexpected ball lands in a players lap and they juggle it and often times drop it.

One issue is with the difficulty. It’s still too easy to rack up ridiculous stats. If you need a challenge then play All-Pro, otherwise you’ll find it’s too easy to walk all over the computer.

Are you a VIP? You can be. This is a masterful new integration into the system. The computer copies the way you play and makes a profile of your style of play so that you can play friends when they aren’t there or vice-versa. It’s actually harder to be a VIP than it is to beat the computer.

Another nice addition is the ability to control your weekly practices. It’s a nice way to have a handle on each and every detail of your team and potential performance; great for the perfectionist in you.

The contracts have been given added depth. You can now backload a contract just as they do in the real game or frontload a huge bonus so that you have more cap room next season. This was a problem in last year’s version when you needed to add some players to your roster, but that huge salary was killing you. The problem is that I’m not a zen of capology and find that years down the road bad decisions cause the release of good players or the inability to sign free agents. It swings both ways and this added depth and challenge really makes a huge difference. I love the fact that you really have to pay attention to every detail.

There is a great new addition celebrating ESPN’s 25th Anniversary where you can recreate some of the 25 classic NFL scenarios in some amazing games. Frozen tundra anyone? Online play is back and better than last year. You can track stats, records, and scoreboards. It’s a great addition for those who have no friends to play (just kidding).

SOUND: The commentary is much improved. The comments are more accurate and the discussions aren’t as annoying. There are a few times however that the players name is announced in a way that isn’t quite accurate. Buffalo’s corner Nate Clements is pronounced more like Clemens, but in the game the t isn’t as silent—slight, but noticeable.

FRANKLY: $20? Makes you think you are getting handed a cheap, sup-par game right? Wrong, its all about gaining market share on Madden. They didn’t need to give the game away for $20, but they are. ESPN NFL 2K5 is an amazing football game and for $20 this is the deal of a lifetime.

+ Ralphie Wright

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