ESPN NFL Primetime 2002 Review
Ever since I saw first glimpses of ESPN NFL Primetime 2002, I knew that this would end up being nothing but a debacle that will serve no purpose in the gaming world. I was told that I was too quick to jump the gun and being irrational, but after waiting (well more like hoping it would get canned) for the game to finally hit shelves, I have one thing to say to everybody who tried to prove me wrong; told ya' so! Perhaps I'm being too immature, but maybe this review will make Konami think twice about releasing a sports product as wretched and horrid as NFL Primetime 2002, especially with games like NFL 2K2 and Madden NFL 2002. NFL Primetime is a severe disappointment, and an effortless attempt at a football sim.
I thought I saw the end of the world when I witnessed NFL GameDay 2001's poor and blocky player models, but this ESPN title has me believing otherwise. Not only do the athletes look frighteningly bad, but also awkwardly blocky and stumpy. These player models are arguably the worst of any next-generation sports title; upfront and unclose. While they animate properly, the diversity in individual player models is almost non-existent. The linemen all share the same bodies, as do the QBs, running backs, and etc. I wonder where all of the development time went into. It surely can't be the visuals, because they display utter crap. Even the skin texturing has no detail. Every player model is either the same shade of pale-black, or the same shade of pale-white. The skin makes the players look not only zombie-like, but cardboard-esque as well. Quite frankly there's nothing that can change my mind about the visuals. On top of that the faces are all the same too; awful visuals...awful.
While every football game has basically the same features, franchise, create-an-athlete, season, exhibition and etc., Primetime features absolutely nothing that the other football sims don't. But here's the catch, why buy a severely below average pigskin sim, when you can buy an absolutely fantastic one instead. I truly do feel sorry for any sap that even attempts to make Primetime 2002 look like a good sports game. It's gameplay struggles because of its poor visuals, as the game atmosphere just isn't what it should be with PS2 games. In comparison to the incredible NFL 2K2, Primetime pales in every single aspect, making it the obsolete game. The game has a shot AI that offers absolutely no challenge, which also has to be some of the dumbest to date. The gameplay is typical stuff, but it is clumsy and not very enjoyable. Even though the playbooks and whatnot are authentic, this game just doesn't feel like that. NFL Primetime is missing the surreal qualities of NFL 2K2 and Madden NFL 2002, such as action packed gameplay and moderately smart AI. Not even the most hardcore of sports fans will want to look at this game, just scoff at it and move along.
Well, thankfully the commentary isn't as bad as Madden's, but it's not a helluva lot better too. The commentary, which should've consisted of Dennis Miller's appearance -since he is under contract with Disney/ABC- is weak. The commentators, Chris Berman and Tom Jackson sound like they have no clue as to what they are doing. On occasion they decide to pop in and give a little play-by-play analysis, but other times they're just mute. Then again, a voice inside of me prefers for it to be that way. The commentators don't create anything more for the game, nor do they help achieve a deeper atmosphere. It's all disappointing, just like the rest of the game, that and the audience is pretty dull too.
I couldn't help but feel the controls were a bit clumsy. Even though the passing and running games are generally the same as other football games, the true to life feel via analog just isn't presented well in NFL Primetime 2002. Unlike Madden and NFL 2K2, the athletes move awkwardly, largely due to their disfigured bodies. The controls remind me of GameDay 2001's "stop and go passes" controls, and I hated that, because it just didn't feel right. This is where I draw the 'clumsy' factor. Since the whole package is pretty much putrid, you won't care too much about the controls. Konami needs to get it together if they actually want to succeed in the sports genre.
Granted this isn't a very deep review, but to be honest this game doesn't deserve it. This review is to basically advise all of you to stay away from this game and pick up a copy of NFL 2K2 or Madden NFL 2002. While the presentation does do the ESPN license justice, the whole game only makesa mockery of it. The visuals are the some of the poorest I can think of, as the player models look not only stumpy but also blocky and terribly redundant. The gameplay offers absolutely nothing the least bit enticing, the commentary and controls only complement the game with their stench. I sound pretty agitated, and I am, because this game was announced back in the middle of 2000, and you'd think with all of that development time Konami would release an above average sim. Unfortunately all we got is...a coaster.
12/10/2001 Arnold Katayev