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Game Profile
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
PlayStation 2
PUBLISHER:
Sega
DEVELOPER:
Visual Concepts
GENRE: Sports
PLAYERS:   1-2
RELEASE DATE:
July 20, 2004
ESRB RATING:
Everyone
IN THE SERIES
All-Pro Football 2K8

All-Pro Football 2K8

ESPN NFL 2K5

ESPN NFL Football

ESPN NFL Football

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on June 24, 2004

First Impressions: Hey, I hear next year they're giving the game away!


If you look back 5 years and follow Sega's NFL franchise to the current day it's quite remarkable to see its evolution. Excellent play mechanics, online play, and stellar visuals and audio has been the staple to the only franchise that can come close to the elusive Madden monster. Once again, the developer, Visual Concepts, is back to prove that their title can compete with the best, and it can also be much cheaper as well. Now in it's six game, and second with the ESPN franchise tag on it, the company will once again bring back the same great game we all love and add a bevy of worthwhile enhancements that have us excited for it's August release. Let's take a look.

First things first, let's get this out of the way ? ESPN NFL 2K5 will in fact retail for the bargain price of $19.99. Whoa? ok, we need an exclamation point here -- ESPN NFL 2K5 will in fact retail for the bargain price of $19.99! This is big news indeed, and it's done for obvious reasons. Sega knows that they can't come close to competing with Madden, so what better way to increase sales by having a game 30 bucks cheaper? To make matters even better for Sega, the other smaller competition is out of the way ? yup, no Fever, Gameday, or Blitz Pro this season. Leaving for a 1-on-1 show down between ESPN and Madden. But enough drama, let's talk about more pressing matters; such as, what will make this game well worth your 20.

As it stands ESPN NFL 2K5 will share the standard additions that you see year in and year out ? one of the most important being roster updates. Yeah, you know you're just dying to see what Eli Manning can do for the G-men, or see if cover boy Terrell Owens can put the Eagles over the top. Fans of last years ESPN presentation will no doubt want to see how this has progressed in a year's time. Well, you'll be happy to know that it has come very far. From the inclusion of sideline reporter Suzy Kolber and a now real life Chris Berman, there's a lot of ESPN related goodness here. Pregame reports, halftime updates, and post game analysis have all been beefed up here, and the in game presentation has also been modified a bit; such as a small camera that automatically replays the last down as you browse through the play calling menu.

Gameplay, which has always been near flawless in the franchise, will certainly take it's natural step forward. The passing game, as well as the running game, seems to be as smooth and enjoyable as last seasons', and hopefully a few of the problems, such as unstoppable running backs, will be addressed. Once again your standard set of abilities are available when running with the ball ? these include the stiff arm, spin, juke, hurdle, and the almighty shoulder charge. Though, the right thumbstick will be put to good use when running the ball now, allowing you to perform a good deal of different moves and combinations. On defense a major improvement comes in the form of tackling. Gone are the days of just doing your best to make contact with the player, as now you're given the choice to lay a killer hit by tapping the tackle button or you can attempt to wrap them up by holding the button down, each with their own pros and cons. Once again I feel the need to stress to Visual Concepts to fix the godlike break tackle abilities of some of the running backs, like Ricky "Rickydiculous" Williams. It's truly one of the main things that kept last years effort from perfection, and hopefully if anything the new tackling system will help to even things out.

As far as game modes go, Visual Concepts is coming full force with an almost endless array. You and other players can go at it in quick match, or if you're alone there's the Season, Franchise, and Practice, all sporting their veritable degrees of enhancements and modifications. A new mode featured in 2K5 is in celebration to ESPN 25th anniversary ? here you can replay classic events in football history to your liking. Yeah, this is certainly nothing too new to the football gaming world, but it should be a worthwhile addition no less. Online play will of course be a major mode that will have you coming back for months to come and it too will be enhanced to thwart cheaters from taking the fun out of the game. Also expect your standard roster downloads and the inclusion of player created tournaments. Lastly there is the return of The Crib. Yup, sporting a brand new palace you'll earn trophies and prizes that let you wrap your place in pimp d?cor. And come on Visual Concepts, can we get some ladies in the hot tub this time around?

Visually, don't expect any earth-shattering changes, as the previous pushed the PS2 pretty far. Mostly you'll see tons of different player animations and sequences ? such as dumping a thing of Gatorade over a coach after a big win. The audio will feature a lot of different player smack talking and post game interviews, not to mention the return of Dan and Peter at the broadcast booth. Yes sir, these guys are back for their sixth season of superb annotating.

Final Thoughts
There is no doubt in my mind that ESPN NFL 2K5 will bring the goods once again this season. Visuals Concepts has yet to let us down and they're not going to start here. And at the bargain price of $20 you can't possibly go wrong. Even if you are a Madden devotee, at that price you'll have to get both this season. Look for our full review soon after it's release.


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