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Platform

Playstation 2

 

Genre

Sports

 

Publisher

SCEA

 

Developer

Red Zone

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q3 2003

 

 

- Modifiable playbooks expand tactical options

- Graphics are greatly improved over past models

- New passing system is fun and innovative

 

 

- Still lacking in the extras department

- Madden and ESPN Football still offer a better all around experience

 

 

Review: Madden NFL 2004 (XB)

Review: NFL GameDay 2003 (PS2)

Review: NCAA Football 2003 (PS2)

 

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NFL GameDay 2004

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

A long time ago on a console far, far way there were two videogame football franchises fighting for supremacy: EA’s Madden and Sony’s Gameday. Back then, it was nip and tuck. Both games were well-done; both developers had their set of supporters. And then came the next generation of systems and Gameday simply imploded. What was once a fair fight was now bully vs. 98 pound weakling, and Gameday was the one having sand kicked in its face. The beatings have continued year after year. Then, with the NFL 2K series, Madden had new competition and Gameday simply became inconsequential. Gameday 2004 goes a long way toward reversing that trend. No, it isn’t really ready to compete with the little bits of digital brilliance that Madden and NFL 2K (now ESPN NFL Football) have become, but it certainly is bulking up, and next year’s model should be right in the hunt.

 

nfl gameday 2004 ps2 review          nfl gameday 2004 ps2 review

 

The most noticeable improvement from the last few Gameday products is that Gameday 2004 is actually fun to play. In fact, it is a blast. Gone is the automatic completion downfield. Gone is the running back frozen against one of his blockers. Gone is the idiotic A.I. incapable of choosing a play that was appropriate for the situation. Some money plays still exist, and wide receivers now drop too many balls, but the game is now competitive and fun.

 

The A.I. is really an amazing improvement. Sony went to NFL coaches and watched tons of game footage to capture the ebb and flow of a defense during a play. This results in realistic shifts, some nice late-second shifting of defenses after line-up 

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and a much more realistic overall feel.

 

 

One of Gameday’s biggest weaknesses (especially when compared to the Madden series) has been its lack of options. Madden is a smorgasbord of features and Gameday is hardly a decent salad bar. This year’s model addresses that concern somewhat. The online game has been revamped. Voice-activated coaching has been added. The ability to completely design a custom playbook for a team has opened up

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coaching options. Updated rosters can be downloaded. It still isn’t Madden, with that game’s mini-games and ridiculous number of modes, but it is a fine start.

 

Mode-wise, Madden remains pretty standard: Preseason (exhibition), Season, General Manager, Franchise Management, Practice, and Tournaments. The options within the General Manager and Franchise Management modes are also pretty standard, save for the aforementioned ability to design a playbook from scratch. Despite the been-there-done-that feel to it all, there really is a ton of game play here. Like most recent, big-name sports titles, Gameday 2004 is a great value. The fun, easy to use online component only adds to this value.

 

nfl gameday 2004 ps2 review          nfl gameday 2004 ps2 review

 

Once a game begins, everything looks nice and plays well. The game doesn’t seem quite a polished graphically as Madden or ESPN Football, but the character models are excellent and well animated. The stadiums are perfectly modeled, right down to the tiniest details. All the sounds are top-notch—this might even be an area where the game tops Madden and ESPN, but it’s really too close to call.

 

The only truly new game play feature (unless you count everything being smoother and more fluid) is the use of pressure sensitive controls. These are most noticeable while passing, where last year’s game truly lagged. Now, to hit a wide receiver run a route downfield, players must press the pass button hard enough to “power” the throw. Just tipping the button will result in a soft lob that will often be intercepted. Hitting the button too hard can result in an errant pass. It takes some getting use to, but I really liked this feature. Pressure sensitive controls are also used for jukes and side arms and hops, though usually players will be fine just punching the buttons as always.

 

I’ll say it without embarrassment—Gameday is back. It still lags a bit behind the big two, but it wouldn’t be too surprising to see next year’s model truly compete.

 

- Tolen Dante

(November 2, 2003)

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