NFL 2K1 Review

For Dreamcast

Rating: Awesome
   NFL 2K1 is not only a huge improvement over last year's NFL 2K, but it's 
also the best football game released so far this year.  Vastly improved 
gameplay and revolutionary online capabilities combine to make NFL 2K1 
everything the original should have been and much, much more.
   The question at the forefront of any gamer's mind is, "Has Sega delivered
on its promise of smooth online gameplay?"  The answer is not a clear-cut 
yes or no.  Living in Maryland and using SegaNet as my ISP, I can have a 
relatively lag-free experience with anyone in Maryland, Pennsylvania, 
Washington DC, Delaware, and Virginia.  Attempting to play NFL 2K1 with 
people outside of those states usually results in lag that renders the game 
almost unplayable.
   While it would certainly be great to play against people throughout the 
country, it's an accomplishment in and of itself that you can have a mostly 
lag-free game against anyone in your state and surrounding states.  I wish 
I didn't have to, but I'm willing to wait until NFL 2K2 for lag-free, 
nationwide gameplay.
   The novelty factor of playing an online football game is huge enough that
I've been up until 2:00 AM playing the game many times.  On one occasion I 
even missed an episode of Oz on HBO because I was playing NFL 2K1 for hours 
on end, and if that doesn't mean that I'm hopelessly addicted, I don't know 
what does.
   Of course, none of the online capabilities would mean anything without 
great gameplay to back it up, and this is where NFL 2K1 really shines.  The 
one and only complaint I have with the gameplay is that fatigue doesn't play
a big enough role in the game, so you're able to run the ball way too many 
times in a row.  
   It amazes me how the developers were able to transform the running game 
from one of the worst in any football game to one of the best in any 
football game.  Finding holes to run through and breaking tackles is now a 
much more realistic process.  It makes sense to do a hurdle if there's a 
player on the ground in front of you, or a stiff-arm if there's a player to 
your side, or a spin move if there's a player coming towards you head-on.  
As a result, the use of special moves is much more logical rather than 
random and luck-based.
   When you're controlling the quarterback, it's a much more intuitive and 
natural process find an open man and deliver the ball to him.  Interceptions
are now usually the work of the player rather than seemingly random 
occurrences.  The Artificial Intelligence has been improved in a way that 
makes choosing defensive formations much more important, and this makes the 
game as a whole much more strategic.  Overall, everything that was wrong 
with last year's game has been fixed, and everything that was good about 
last year's game has been made even better.
   NFL 2K1's Franchise Mode is better than Madden's in a few key areas and 
worse in most.  Still, I suppose that a poorly-constructed Franchise Mode 
with a couple of good ideas is better than no Franchise Mode at all.  The 
multi-season stats add a lot to the game, with information like the 
cumulative records of every team and the number of Super Bowl wins for every
team.  In terms of convenience, it makes a big difference to be able to see 
your roster on the same screen as free agents so that you can quickly 
compare your roster to what's available on the open market.
   The problem is that the free agent market is a little bit too "open."  
There's no time-based interface that causes you to make some big free agent 
signings and miss out on others.  You can sign as many free agents as you 
want without any competing offers from other teams.  There's also a 
conspicuous lack of annual awards, realistic stats, all-time records, and a
lot of other small but important touches.
   Another thing that drags down the entertainment value of the Franchise 
Mode is that players often retire prematurely with no career-ending injuries
or explanations of any kind.  No matter how good of a team you've assembled,
you better not get too attached to it, because the game could decide at any 
time that a big group of under-30 players are going to retire for no 
apparent reason.
   Regardless of the Franchise Mode's shortcomings, NFL 2K1 is still an 
amazingly fun game both online and off.  It's a better overall game than 
Madden 2001 for the PS1, but how it compares to the PS2 version of Madden 
remains to be seen.

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