Game Review - by James Allen
What the world needs now is another NFL game, and so here comes the almighty Microsoft with NFL Fever 2000. How will a company notorious for their software fare in the game realm? Microsoft has dabbled in computer games before, with usually good results. Plus, Brunell is on the cover, albeit from 1995. That must mean it's a good game, right?
Talk about your basic football game. Microsoft wasted no time in throwing such terms as "multiplayer" and "statistics" out the window with NFL Fever 2000. The game features two basic forms of play: exhibition game, and season mode. Within these modes, you can play as one of the 31 teams in the 1999 NFL season. There are no All-Millen teams, so you can stop living in the past. Unfortunately, some of the players are lacking photos and identification during play-by-play, but this is not just limited to rookies and bench warmers: some starters are identified by number only.
The season mode can simulate the 1999 NFL season, or you can generate a random schedule. The only stats that are available during the season are the records of the teams. No hard drive space filled with data! The games themselves can be customized by difficulty, length, weather, and wind. Other than just playing the game, NFL Fever 2000 doesn't offer much in the way of features.
The graphics are astounding. Microsoft uses every asset of your computer to produce a slick looking game. The players are detailed, right down to the individual faces. The stadiums look like the real thing, although weather is displayed in an iffy manner. After a big play, the game shows an instant replay, usually accompanied by a taunting or two from the players. No word on whether the throat-slashing gesture gets fined. The only thing wrong with the graphics is that the hits are usually displayed as over the top: on almost every play, the offensive player gets creamed. Still, it's nice to see quarterbacks get thrown back five yards on a sack.
Much like the features, the sound is very basic. Occasional commentary from Dick Stockton and Matt Millen (must have been hard to get those two) is found, which is usually ignored. They do get downright mean with some players, suggesting hitting teammates with blocks of wood. The on-field sound is good: you can feel the bone-crushing hits, and hear the players heckle each other after a big play. Overall, the sound does not take anything away from the game.
Gameplay is where NFL Fever 2000 better shine, and it delivers, usually. For the first time since I can remember, the time is finally accurate. Playing a 15-minute game is just like playing a 15-minute game. This is accomplished by the fact that when you leave the huddle after choosing the play, the play clock is automatically reduced to 20 seconds, which, in turn, takes some time off the game clock. This makes 15-minute games the most realistic choice for length. Now, as for the two-minute drill, the play clock does not reduce here, akin to a no-huddle offense, which is just like real football. Imagine that!
The play itself is pretty good. You need to balance the run and pass game to be effective. Players usually won't catch the ball when they are covered, and runners stop when a defender hits them. As for the defense, the players do what you tell them to in the huddle. If the wide receiver is running and out, and your corner plays off 10 yards, you're in trouble.
The game goes by quickly on long drives, which can eat up lots of clock time (like in the NFL). Games are usually lower scoring, even with 15 minute quarters: 21-17, 17-14. All this adds up to a realistic football simulation.
Everything is realistic except for the kicking game. Ugh. Get ready to punt 30 yards and kick off to the 20 yard line. The power bar to control how far your kick will travel scrolls too fast, and you usually miss the good kick. Also, unlike in non-special teams play, where you can let the play run automatically, you must kick the ball. Field goals are few and far between, even from close range. Extra points are even an adventure. Yet, the computer seems to kick just fine. Just as long as I never punt or kick the ball, I'll be all right.
NFL Fever 2000 offers what its price says: a really basic football game. The graphics and gameplay are good, certainly good enough for the price. For this much money, you can forget about no multiplayer, no stats, and crappy kicking. Plus, you just can't resist a game with Brunell on the cover (at least I can't).