My first reaction when I popped this in the X-Box, was what’s the Deal with all the Squat players? What were they thinking by going with these player models? It’s a game I think I should like, but have no desire to play it and when I am playing I am usually hoping it will be over soon. Really not sure why, it’s not a bad game by any means. I will try to make some sense of this in my review.
There are times when you are playing Fever that it is a lot of fun, you might hit a receiver over the middle or on an out, and it feels real good. Then you hook up on a long bomb and your thinking this game is cool. Unfortunately it starts to lose it’s fun when your receivers are so open on the various routes especially deep routes that it seems so easy, that it takes the fun out of it. This was on the Veteran level. I have not spent much time on All-Star. The reason I haven’t spent much time on All-Star was cause I felt nowhere close to ready on defense.
Defense is a mixed bag, for one you just don’t feel like you have enough plays to cover the various offensive plays you might be up against. I was unable to find any type of coverage that would work as A Dime Safe Cover or even the dreaded prevent defense. Which I think leads to you and the cpu getting burned by deep passes. One of my DB’s, just stopped on a deep route run by the receiver, there was no cut or fake he just stopped by the receiver, by the time he realized the receiver was going deep it was way too late.
I don’t necessarily think a game needs 500 defensive plays but I am sure it needs more than Fever offers. Playing as a defensive linemen is a bit frustrating, you have a swim move but it is exaggerated and by the time you get around the O Lineman the QB has already completed the pass. There are a fair amount of plays that allow you to blitz so you can get some sacks, but they won’t come from a 4 man rush.
I tried playing as a linebacker and when you make a play it is probably one of the most fun elements of this game. Playing as Brian Urlacher, spotting the Running back coming out of the backfield for a pass and nailing him as he catches the ball is a highlight of this game. The speed burst is a bit exaggerated but it’s duration is not unlimited, so you only get a few bursts when you are running. I would recommend playing as a linebacker and accepting the fact that you may blow some assignments but you have a chance to make an impact on the game.
I think what is missing on both offense and defense is the strategic chess match against the cpu. I really never felt like I was outthinking the computer and executing a solid game plan. I realize this is just a video game but the superior games give you the feeling that the plays you are choosing have some impact on the outcome of the game. In Fever, it is very easy to resort to the Randy Moss style of offense, “just chuck it up there dog” or something to that affect. No one aspect of the game play is really bad, but when all the little things were added up, I just felt like my time could be better spent doing something else.
The kicking game is decent, although the kick aim arrow moves pretty quick even with my slow reflexes I was able to get it down. You can have good returns but it is neither too easy or hard.
Some of the playcalling is suspect. In the first quarter the cpu went for 4th and 5 or more at least 3 times, in their own territory very early in the game. Other times the cpu will pass many times in a row and then later on in a seeming effort to even it out will run a bunch of times. I just never got the feeling that the their was a lot of effort put into the cpu playcalling. I have not played this as a two player game, but I could picture it being a lot of fun as a two player game. Clock management is OK, there were moments it could be better but nothing blatant.
Fever plays and control pretty solidly. My only complaint is with the running game. At the beginning of running plays, I don’t quite feel I have control of my runner, he seems intent on following the pattern of the original play, when you try to make him cut you get some odd animation’s where the runner contorts his body at unlikely angles. This really didn’t effect the gameplay and I was able to adjust. To perform a spin move you have to start it well before the tackler attempts to tackle you. Once you get the timing down it is a pretty effective move.
The tackling in this game is very solid and crisp, but it seems most tackles are made directly from the front or back, even if you have an angle on a guy you seem to hit him square in the chest with textbook tackling form. It’s sort of the anti-NFL2K2 in this respect you will see very few broken tackles once you hit a guy most of the time he stays hit.
Once you adjust to how slow the ball comes out of the Quarterbacks hands the passing game controls very nicely. There are times when you throw quickly to a receiver on a crossing pattern to avoid the blitz and the ball stays in the air forever, but you still end up completing the pass, which may not be very realistic but it can be fun. Any problems with the passing game control are minor, this is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the game. However, the AI related to the passing game, which leaves too many receivers wide open hurts this aspect of the game.
Getting used to the X-Box controller is really the only issue I had with controls. I am still not sold on six buttons on the right side, with the white and black buttons being so far away, I struggled a bit to throw to the right receiver, but it didn’t matter most of the time since I completed the pass anyway.
At first you notice the funny looking players and I noticed that the faces were no where near as good as those in NFL2K2 for the PS2. But the more you play, the more detail you begin to notice, veins in guys arms, QB’s eyes scanning the field. My favorite was in a game when it snowed, the parts of the field where no one had been in awhile, the snow had no foot prints, that was pretty impressive. The crowds, sidelines and stadiums are all very detailed and well done. Which makes me wonder why they chose such goofy looking player models, the refs are more proportional than the players. If you love graphics and little details there is plenty of that here. There are plenty of animation’s but not as many as you would expect from a title that was hyped for the X-box. It all seems a little too structured but it does look good. The crowd actually looks like independent people. Cheerleaders and even the camera people on the sidelines look good. It’s also a very bright and colorful game.
Nothing special here. Dick Stockton handles the play by play, and surprisingly doesn’t refer to the players by name very often. I figured with the hard drive capabilities that they would be able to store more phrases and names, they didn’t take advantage of that on this first generation X-box title. Ron Pitts does the play by play and he sounds fine, but his repertoire is fairly limited and you almost never hear him refer to a player by name, even on the beginning of the game comments.
The onfield trash talking is well done and it can be amusing, but most games have something similar so it won’t blow you away. The NFL Fever song is very annoying. I noticed nothing particularly annoying or outstanding about the crowd noises.
My only complaint here is the play calling screens are too small and the plays are not that easy to decipher. You can do it, it would just be nice if it was done better. One nice thing in a one player game, is that you can hit a button at the line of scrimmage to see the routes your players will run. These overlays are actually pretty accurate your receiver for the most part stick to their routes, although they will get bumped off them sometimes. I was expecting a little more in the way of graphical overlays during the gameplay, but you don’t see a lot of that. The menus look fine and are easy too navigate, but who buys a game because of that?
Little things like the Hall of Fame and Super Bowl trophy are nice extras. You also have all-time records, I could see this adding to re-playability.
I really liked the substitution screen by formation, the players are shown on the field where they would be in that formation and you can move around and very easily see who is where and you can make substitutions quite rapidly and effectively.
This is a tough one to score. Partly cause I am not a big fan of franchise modes and mostly because it only allows you to play season games with 5 minute quarters and with the pace of this game, that is just not long enough to satisfy me. A game needs to have an ebb and flow with some momentum shifts, the five minute quarters don’t allow for this.
On the other hand they have an interesting take on Player Improvement called Dynamic Player Performance. Your players skill attributes can increase or decrease during the season based on their performance and the teams performance. Sounds good but I didn’t really check it out too deeply. It is definitely the way to go if you are going to offer a franchise mode, so Fever seems to be making a strong effort in this area.
Trades are proposed in the offseason and that is well done, but in the two seasons that I simmed I rejected all the trade offers. Wasn’t that they were bad offers just didn’t seem like moves I needed to make. Signing your player and free agents doesn’t involve true negotiations, you can change the term of the contract and then dollar amount will adjust but if you sign a player, he is yours. Seems like they should counter offer you to make it more realistic.
The draft is decent shows you the players rated overall and you can switch to look at by position. The CPU will also make suggestions as to which player to pick, in case you don’t want to handle this alone.
Once I got used to the controller I found offense on Veteran too easy but I wasn’t finding defense too easy,. My games were competitive but actually not a whole lot of fun, cause I rarely got the feeling that I earned a touchdown with great execution and play calling.
One other issue that I neglected is the fact that you can choose only 5,10,15 minute quarters. 5 is too short and 10 is just a little too long, but the fact that you can save so easily during a game to the hard drive kind of makes up for that. But it kind of makes you wonder what they were thinking by not giving users the option to pick whatever minute quarters they wanted to play. Then to have only 5 minute quarters in franchise mode is just plain stupid, how hard could it have been to do this?
I can see this being a fun two player game or if you like high scoring battles, you might really like this game, but if you like the strategy and play calling aspects of NFL2K2 or Madden2002, you should probably just go with a rental.