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NFL GameDay 2002
Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: 989 Sports
Developer: 989 Sports
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 8 (with Multi-tap)
Genre: Sports

Graphics & Sound:
One of the first things that I noticed about the graphics was that everything is a little grainy looking, resulting in a game that is sometimes hard to look at. Each of the player models looks good and while they are sized appropriately for their positions, they all seem stubby and unnatural. You can 'refine' them in the options menu, but that only causes them to resemble basketball players rather than football players. The animations are smooth, but chop up during transitions and never seem to flow as well as they should. Stadiums, on the other hand, are nicely done and it's neat that certain landmarks, such as the pirate ship of Tampa Bay are present.

Sound, on the other hand, is something that seems to have gotten worse over the years. The commentary (done by Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts) is good, but always seems very out of place for what is happening on the field. For example, I had been running the entire game, and the one time my run was stopped, Dick Enberg made a comment about how I should start passing because the running game is getting me nowhere. Expect to question exactly what game the commentators are watching.

Let me just say this now and get it out of the way, I hated the music. I remember back in GameDay 2000, when the game would play a short clip of 'Respect' or some Van Halen song, just like at a real game. I loved this aspect and was really disappointed when I heard that they were replaced by badly done 'filler' music. What really ticked me off was that it became too predicable and repetitive. Yes, I know that all the music in football games gets repetitive, but when it's done well, you don't seem to mind as much.

Gameplay is pretty much the same as it was last year. You are given your choice of Arcade or Simulation. Those looking for a short, quick game should stick to Arcade while those wanting a deeper game may want to check out Simulation, which offers you either Exhibition, Season, or Tournament modes. I did feel that GameDay 2002 seems to have gotten a little more arcade-like. When I say it feels arcade-like, I mean that things are just a little too fast in some parts and the game starts to feel more like NFL Blitz than a real football game. An example is in the numbers my players were able to put up. In one game against the Rams, I was able to put up 657 yards passing with Aaron Brooks and 791 yards rushing with Ricky Williams. If these numbers were from one season, I would have no problem, but in one game? C'mon.

I found passing to be a problem. Total Control Passing has returned, and this makes for a decent passing game if you can use it, but if you don't, there's an unusually large amount of interceptions and drops. Running isn't as much of a problem, but it has its flaws. My main one being that all of the players seem to have the same speed. I was usually able to put up the same (high) yardage with Joe Rookie off the bench as I was with Marshall Faulk.

As in years past you are given four difficulty levels, and are allowed to customize just about every aspect of the game, something I wish other sports games would allow you to do. You can adjust the passing defense, CPU intelligence, criminal record (okay, so that's not an option - but you see what I mean). The sad thing is, with all the options you can adjust, playing against the computer usually doesn't seem to pose that much of a challenge. Even when playing on Hall of Fame mode with everything turned up, 40-50 point games against the computer were common.

Game Mechanics:
Keeping with the 'same as 2001' theme, the initial load times are bad, but once things get moving there's little problem. GameDay also takes up a lot of your memory card (about 15 blocks), so you may want to make sure you have a lot of room before starting a season.

There's really little that can be said about the controls; they're the same as they've always been - which is a good thing since GameDay has always been one football game you can just pick up and play without a lot of memorization. My main gripe is that I really wish the game would make up its mind if it wanted to be a simulation or arcade game. Once this is cleared up, I really think other problems will also be solved.

A few years ago, GameDay was as good as it got, but for some reason or another, the franchise has been slipping as the years go by. It still manages to be a decent game of football, and if you liked last year's version there's really no reason not to at least rent this year's, but for people picking up their first football game, you may want to check out what some of the other players have to offer before drafting this one.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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