Forget Madden and PS2 for a moment because Sega has the best football, perhaps sports, game maybe ever made. NFL 2K1 is as close to perfection as any game has ever been. And unbelievably, it improves on last year’s exceptional release, NFL 2K.
Look: I’d say perfect if I knew what perfect was. Let’s just say this is as good as I’ve ever seen a sports game look. The players are more realistic. They are more rounded and less jagged.
Feel: If you had last year’s version, you can dive right in and play. There are a few new things and a few things that have been tweaked, but all in all, it’s pretty much the same. And that is a good thing. The thing I enjoyed most is the QB pump fakes. I could get a defender to bite on a pass and then launch it to my receiver who was now running free down the sideline. Running the ball has gotten a bit more realistic. The smallish running backs can no longer run over a linebacker, but can turn up the speed to hit the corner. Now the big backs like Fred Taylor can bully defenses, just like he does in real life. The game now thinks much more like the games you see every Sunday rather than like a video game. The one big beef I have is with the defense. Switching players to get closer to the ball hasn’t been improved; it’s gone a step back. Your player isn’t always the closest guy to the ball. I heard that has to do with the player best set to make the play through some statistical analysis. All I know is I can’t think faster than a computer, but that doesn’t mean it’s making the correct choices. Sometimes instinct is better than precision.
Hear: I thought the commentators last year were good, though occasionally repetitive. This is the only area where other games may have it beat. The play by play isn’t as good as other releases, but it doesn’t take away from the game one bit. I do enjoy listening to the crowd get into the game, and the players have a new move where they can get the crowd to cheer or boo. The next thing you know, Sega will add a mic on the players like on Monday Night Football. Spooky.
Finally: My one beef is and may be for some time to come the lack of being able to add players so you don’t have to buy the game every year just for the updates. I mean, if a company makes a new version and it blows away the one from the year before, people will still buy it. But that begins to get costly. I know you can make your own player, but it’s not the same. If I want some hot rookie on my team, like a Warrick Dunn, and I had last year’s version, then I don’t want to create him and sit around waiting until he is good. I know there are arguments for and against this, but wouldn’t it be cool? And not to mention being able to trade players we’ve made over the web with others? How cool would that be? Lastly, with all the improvements, I can’t imagine why anyone that owns a Dreamcast wouldn’t buy this game. Sega should offer a money-back guarantee for satisfaction. I bet they wouldn’t get many returns.