Who let the Chihuahuas out? Review

Joe Dodson
NFL Gameday 2004 Info

genre

  • Sports

players

  • 1 - 2

Publisher

  • Sony

Developer

  • 989 Sports

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS2

rating

Who let the Chihuahuas out?

NFL GameDay 2004 for the PS2 represents an interesting mark in

the GameDay franchise. While I wouldn’t say that the series has

finally come of age, I will say that it has come of adolescence. You remember

that kid who was fat all through middle school and then somehow lost thirty pounds

over the summer? That’s the idea. While certainly not as mature as Madden

or as athletic as ESPN, GameDay

proves that sometimes dropping a ball is a good thing.

The

most noticeable improvement is the brawny on-line component. There are chat-rooms,

message boards, tournaments, rankings stats, instant messengers and all sorts

of other online goodies that weren’t there last Fall. Not only is the SOCOM

headset supported for voice-chat, but you can also use it to administer voice

commands to your team, even offline. That’s right – the headset recognizes over

thirty commands. Unfortunately, “throw the damn ball you @%#$!” isn’t one of

them.

The single-player is still a bit underdeveloped. The usual suspects all make

it to the huddle including Preseason, Season, Tournament, Practice, General

Manager and Franchise. Essentially nothing has changed here since last year.

The General Manager and Franchise modes, usually the bread and butter of any

single-player sports game, are too barebones compared to the wealth of details

and possibilities in Madden, and the other modes have been

unchanged since I was in diapers.

However, much of yesteryear’s clumsiness has dissipated and GameDay

plays better than ever before. Controls are now truly pressure sensitive (as

they are in the ESPN and Madden games) and

not quite as gangly and uncoordinated as they used to be. Having said that,

GameDay‘s gameplay still isn’t up to speed with either Madden

or ESPN. It’s a long way from high-school to the pros.

Quarterbacking is handled better than any other aspect of the game, although

this is partially due to bad defensive AI. With Michael Vick, for example, I

can totally demolish any defense any time by simply rolling out behind a running

back and passing him the ball when defenders finally close in’if they ever do.

Sometimes Vick just gets to take it thirty or forty yards. The option play might

be great in college, but you shouldn’t be able to do it this easy in the NFL.

GameDay has always tripped when it comes to running, and

this year’s game isn’t much different. The pressure sensitive controls help,

but weird frame-rates and an overall lack of fluidity kind of spoil this aspect

of the game.

After

a taste of Madden‘s incredible defensive AI, playing defense

in GameDay makes me want to put down the controller and go

play for real in the park. There’s just no comparison. It’s not really bad,

per se, so much as static compared to what we see in the other two big NFL games.

Defenders don’t clog passing lanes nearly as effectively and pass-rushers always

seem to get hung up on linemen. This means two things: the CPU offense will

score on you more easily, and you can score on the CPU defense really

easily, making GameDay a very offensive game. Pun slightly

intended.

NFL Gameday 2004 has visited the dermatologist and cleared

up a couple blemishes, but the overall countenance isn’t that attractive. The

main problem is the framerate, which is still a little clunky. However, I don’t

think this is due to bad programming or weird hardware issues so much as a result

of the 989’s animation style preference. In 989 games, there’s always an element

of enhanced quickness to gives the game a more arcadey feel. Unfortunately,

this is often taken too far and makes movement jerky and awkward. Visual Concepts

employs this tactic as well, but in a far more subtle manner so that the action

seems energized as opposed to frantic. I think a revision to this approach,

perhaps slowing down the animations and making them more fluid, would give the

game the proper look.

The sounds are okay. Dan Fouts and Dick Enberg have always been decent video

game commentators and combine to provide the one area in which GameDay

does something better than Madden.

NFL GameDay 2004 represents a marked improvement over last

year’s effort.
However, the football game genre is probably the toughest

in sports, and small gains are easy to take for granted or dismiss as simply

not enough. However, I think the GameDay series is beginning

to show signs of life, and I’m actually interested in seeing what next year

brings to this awkward but improving series.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

2
Rating
Good online scheme
Improved gameplay
Single-player modes don’t compete
AI needs improving
As do the graphics