Ooo, that play just didn't work!
It's fourth down and goal, 5 seconds left on the clock, you're down by 5 points, and the opponents know all your plays. What do you do? Simple! Look into your personal playbook and use a play that you created instead.
NFL '97 attempts to go where no football game has successfully gone before: into the coaches room. With very few differences, most football games have been pretty much the same. They succeed or fail with the smoothness of the play and the number of options that they offer. People need a gimmick to buy the newest football game, and NFL '97 has provided it in the form of the playmaker. First, however, we must look at the other aspects of the game.
The graphics are pretty good in NFL '97, but they could be better. The players are larger than they are in most of the football games we have seen recently. Of course, the players celebrate when they make a good tackle or score a touchdown; nothing that we haven't seen before. They also don't seem as smooth as they could have been. I hate to mention the opening sequence as part of the game, but the video (FMV) quality just isn't very good. I know that they have to compress the data of the video, but does Sega have to do it on all their games? They also need to pay more attention to their color palette. Maybe they should sacrifice the room for quality FMV or just not have it at all.
Electing not to go with pass 'windows', NFL '96 simply marks each possible receiver with a letter corresponding to a button on the controller. Press that letter, the ball goes to that man (What'll they think of next!). You can also throw independently of the receiver. When you press the pass button, it gives you a tracking line of the ball's prospective flight. Adjust the line to where you want it, and let the pigskin loose. You can then take control of one of the receivers and break the coverage to catch the ball. You can also throw away the ball to avoid an oncoming tackle. This is an excellent addition and we'll probably be seeing more of it in the coming year of football games.
You ever wanted to design your own football team and fill it with the best players of the league? Well, NFL '97 allows you to do so. With a team maker option, you can have Jerry Rice on any team you wish. Forget the experts top choices, now you get to see who makes it to the Pro-Bowl.
Now, on to the playmaker. Tired of being an armchair quarterback when you really want to be an armchair coach? Well, here's your chance. Although the playmaker is a little limited in its scope, it is still fun to play around with. Even somebody who doesn't know the difference between a 4-3 and a shotgun setup can create a successful play. The first limitation is the fact that you can only create offensive plays. You're not allowed to design the ultimate blitz in which all your players squash the quarterback into paste. Second, you can only choose setups and running routes from a set number of paths. If you have a revolutionary way to setup an offensive line, forget it. You're stuck with the basic line formations. While these two limitations seem rather annoying, they actually aren't that bad. With the simplifications of line setup and running patterns anybody from age five to eighty can design their own play without having to go to coach's school. The play maker was an excellent first attempt for NFL '97, and we're sure to see an even better one next year.
All in all, NFL '96 is a good game. With all the players, the teams, and the plays, it is a lot of fun for sports lovers everywhere. The playmaker was an excellent addition and the perfect gimmick to draw in coaching enthusiasts, or get regular sports fans to replace their previous football game.