Can't topple Mr. Madden.
Having been a faithful follower of 989 Sports' Gameday franchise since 1995, I was hugely disappointed by Gameday '99. The gameplay was just too unrealistic. Gameday 2000 offers several enhancements to the previous installment, but in the end falls prey to the same niggling faults.
After the opening FMV (it's awesome, with footage by NFL Films), you are presented with several game options. Players can play a Preseason game, compete in a full Season, engage in Tournament play, or become a General Manager and control a team for multiple seasons.
General manager mode is a new feature in Gameday 2000 that gives you an opportunity to make every important decision on a football team. Your responsibilities include replacing retired players, resigning players with expired contracts, deciding which rookies will make the team, drafting players (senior players saved to the memory card from NCAA GameBreaker 2000 can be drafted), and salary cap management. If your team has underachieved, you will get fired. However, you may be offered another opportunity with another team.
Other modes include the Practice field to practice a certain play or formation, and a Play Editor which allows you to create your own plays to use during a game. It's too bad that after creating a few plays and starting a season with my playbook, the plays I created were a jumbled mess in my custom play section. Player symbols were scattered all over the place where the formation was displayed. Close, but no cigar.
Besides the 31 NFL teams, you can use the single-game contests to replay past Super Bowls or the all-time All Stars. It even includes the old uniforms and stadiums!
One interesting feature is the post-play celebration button. Regardless of what happened on the last play, your player will dance, do a flip, and just go nuts. This begs the question: why would Steve Young want to, say, breakdance after throwing an interception? Maybe next year, they can include an anger/frustration button (if that's included, you heard it here first!)...
Music in Gameday 2000 has changed dramatically. Before every kickoff, you get the "We will, we will rock you!" stomping and clapping sequence, while it's not uncommon to hear "R-E-S-P-E-C-T", or "That's the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it (uh huh, uh huh)" after scoring a touchdown. This is great and all, but the celebration music plays and the crowd cheers regardless of who scores. Takes that home field advantage element out of the game, doesn't it?
As with last year, Dick Enberg and Phil Simms form the two-man broadcast team. This time around, they comment about the right teams/players that are actually playing in the game.
Now, for the gameplay. Earlier versions of Gameday had AI problems and other drivel that belong in arcade games like NFL Blitz instead. Thankfully, 989 Sports has fixed a few of them. Players actually react to the ball instead of running away from the ball carrier. Add to that some new animations, including wrap tackles, and you'll see the overall improvement you hoped for.
The CPU AI at the easier settings is pathetic. Bump it up to All-Pro or Hall of Fame, and it's more likely that the computer's defense with completely smother your offense. If you haven't found any money plays by now, don't expect to win any games. This is probably my biggest complaint with Gameday 2000, as this is the same kind of unrealistic gameplay that plagued Gameday '99. As a player, I want a game that makes me think about my playcalling and how to execute those plays, not having to continuously search for indefensible plays to survive. This is an AI element at which Madden 2000 excels.
Players who loved Gameday '99 will like this game as well. It's almost the same game with new options, updated rosters, general manager mode, etc. Gamers who didn't like the past version will want to skip 2000. Sure, there are new features, but the gameplay is essentially the same as last year with a few fixes.