ESPN NFL 2K5
“You shall never criticise the unknown.” That’s what the old school doctor always said to me after the usual “ballgrabbing”. “Take off your pants please”, he deliberately asked. “Hell no”, was my final answer but then he always fooled me with the same trick year after year. He pointed with his greasy fingers to the window and stupid me looked straight at it. Before I could scream out for help I was standing there bare-naked, blowing all the air that was left in my lungs on my wrist. I’ll never forget that dirty doctor, just as I’ll never forget his wise words that I used for my little introduction. The “ballgrabbing” had a purpose and it wasn’t a case of sexual harassment. The guy just did his job, and still…I feel like I have to take back my dignity by writing this review in a rather negative undertone, even though ESPN NFL 2K5 is the best American Football game out there.
The only positive thing I’m writing about NFL 2K5 is that as of this year EA Sports has an exclusive deal with the NFL making it impossible for other developers to make another NFL game. This means that the odds of having to review another NFL game this year are becoming slimmer. And heck, I’m not really bothered by that fact. Don’t get me wrong however, I love playing sports games but it’s always those damn Football games that make me wonder if I’m not lying to myself.
The best kick-off with games like these is the tutorial where you’ll learn all the moves. However Visual Concepts managed to implement as many moves as Bruce Lee had in his good ol’ days. Therefore by the time I finished the tutorial I forget half of the moves I’ve learned. This can also be a result of my rather short term memory but aside from that the number of moves to learn is enormous. Die-hard NFL gamers will find it peanuts but for a rookie like me it’s tough stuff you know. This however wasn’t my main concern. What’s the case with Football is that you can’t do anything without a decent amount of tactics and these strategic manoeuvres are even more numerous. You are stuck with two options: one is just picking a strategy that sounds and looks good and if the luck is on your side you just might play a good tactic. The other one is a bit simpler; just picking the coach’s choice because this guy knows how the game is played. The only problem is that you’ll have to successfully execute the strategy and this isn’t that easy. Overall ESPN NFL 2K5 is a rather difficult sports game for amateurs like me so it demands some serious digging to get to know all the moves and tactics and really feel like you’re controlling the game.
Sport simulations pop up year after year and developers often act like desperate bachelors with corny pick-up lines when it comes to reinventing yourself year after year. They simply adjust the rosters, add some more polygons to the player models and freshen up the menus. Visual Concepts however is a real Don Juan compared to those losers. They even made a Crib mode which will please fans of MTV Cribs. You can already guess the correct answer; yes, you’ll be able to decorate your own house from sealing to floor and from couches to plants. Everything can be adapted to your lovely wishes. There did however pop up some questions in my head concerning the link with American Football and interior decoration. Aren’t those Don Juan’s over at Visual Concepts overdoing it a bit by focussing a little too much on the ladies here? I mean, mixing interior design with something as manly and cool as American Football is just asking for wondering faces, isn’t it? Well whatever the underlying thought of Visual Concepts is, the addition of the Crib mode sure is original. You’ll unlock several cool mini games and you by winning games in the franchise mode you’ll make friends such as Carmen Electra who’ll challenge you. Desperate and horny gamers will find this enough to really play the Crib mode to the bone.
If you’re the kind of gamer that can go completely bananas when looking at graphics than monkeys beware, because ESPN NFL 2K5 is easily the best looking sports game out there on Xbox. The player models look really convincing and the addition of cheerleaders makes this game even more worth watching. ESPN is known for its’ excellent TV-like presentation and NFL 2K5 is no exception. During the brief loading screens a TV presenter will give a short introduction about the duel. This will get you in that proper American Football mood which makes people stay at home behind their tubes during Super Bowl. For me however, this feeling never lasts long as I’m not a huge fan of the sport. If only the developers offered me an unintended boob flash now and then, I wouldn’t be complaining. But then again, Jeanet’s rack has had enough attention in the media to even pop up in a videogame. Despite the missing boob, ESPN NFL 2K5 is the most beautiful NFL game on earth.
A huge minus of this years’ instalment however is the lack of Xbox Live support. If you’re an American citizen than praise yourself lucky for once as it’s only us Europeans that have to be satisfied with the single player. This obviously shows the minor interest in the sport in Europe compared to the crazed fans in the US of A. I for one am not the kind of guy writing complaints to Visual Concepts to please give the Europeans an online mode too as I’ve got my hands full with the single player mode alone. Americans just tend to be a bit more blown away by men in tights. For proof just look at baseball and wrestling, nuff said I guess?
When I look back at this review I see that it’s not as negative as I thought it would be, sorry for that. ESPN NFL 2K5 is simply the best American Football game out there and there’s no old, dirty doctor able to change my mind. The rules, the numerous tactics and of course the men in tights keep me from really enjoying this game. If you feel different about it than I suggest you make a sprint to your nearby games store, tackle the guy behind the counter and get a hold of a copy because this is easily the best and sadly last NFL game by Visual Concepts. EA Sports will really have to push themselves to the limit if they want to top this game and I wish them the best of luck as long as I don’t have to review it