Another 3 and Out.
Yesterday I went into a pet store to buy a puppy for my boa constrictor, Max. There were three puppies to choose from, and they were clearly brothers. One was big and hearty, another was small and cute, and the last was fat and dumpy. And it bit me. Unfortunately, there had to be a loser and it was up to me to decide which one would be missed least by the puppy-buying populace.
But today, I am the snake and a fresh litter of Playstation 2 NFL games sits helplessly before me. Madden would be the big, hearty one, NFL 2K2 would be the cute one, and without a doubt, NFL GameDay 2002 would be snake food.
989 Sports' newest edition to the GameDay franchise is definitely the worst football game on the PS2 this season. That's pretty sad considering last season's NFL Gameday 2001 also earned the "worst of" award. With more problems than the Carolina Panthers, it's easy to see that 989's ball is definitely not bouncing in the right direction.
The first fumble comes from long loading times. Before you even reach a game, you'll be treated to two extra-long loads, one of which precedes a fittingly drawn out intro. GameDay's loading times are easily the longest of the PS2 football games.
Then there's the lack of any sort of Practice mode. It hasn't even been replaced by anything cooler - it's just gone. Whereas Madden has taken its Practice mode to new heights, GameDay has cut practice completely. Such an omission robs the player of the chance to get used to the game and develop basic offensive and defensive confidence before starting a Season or Franchise. It's just like starting the season without training camp.
The rest of the features are exactly what you'd expect from any other football game. I suppose there's still room in the General Manager mode (known as Franchise or Dynasty mode in other games) for greater detail and realism, but there's already more than enough meat to mull for all but the greatest of football pedants.
Unfortunately, there's no use eating the meat when it has already gone bad, since GameDay has the weakest gameplay of the 2002 games. The running game is abysmal. Not only do you not get the holes you'd expect, but juking tackles in the open field is unrealistically hard. While the defenders seem to have the proportional speed and strength of spiders, your poor running back suffers from some sort of awful gravity affliction, which reduces all his cut-backs to painful stutters and potentially huge gains to depressing losses.
The passing game, on the other hand, is too easy. Not only are certain plays like quick outs and slants extraordinarily reliable, but they don't seem to open up the defense to draw plays (fake a pass and hand the ball off to your half back). This puts a crimp in basic football strategy and cuts an important dimension out of what is already the least dynamic football game of the season. You better like monitoring stats, because that's about as much fun as it gets.
The defensive side of the ball is just as gloomy. Unlike you, the computer can run right through defenders. Making things even worse is the fact that defending passes is just about impossible. When you change players, the new player you take control of does nothing on his own. This leads to odd schisms in activity and usually gives tight ends and wide receivers that extra-needed step against your defender. Touchdown!
Graphically, GameDay is second rate. The fields, textures, players, faces and animations are all uglier than those found in Madden 2002 and NFL 2K2. Some of the tackle animations are cool (like the two and three person tackles), but the overall look of GameDay is fuzzy and plain. This game has been beaten with the ugly stick one too many times.
The sounds are below average, with Dick Enberg and Dan Fouts giving the sloppiest commentary since football games were made for the PSX. Not only is the integration of the commentary more jagged than what you'd find in most sports games, but 989 Sports went with Dan Fouts, who actually sounds awkward and pointless on television.
Overall, NFL Gameday 2002 is a sub-par football game that has no hope of escaping the shadows cast by its fantastic competitors. Rumor has it that GameDay 2002 is superior to GameDay 2001, but that's sort of like saying a bop on the head is better than a punch in the nose. I wouldn't pay for either of them.