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NFL Gameday 2000 (PSOne)
MSRP: $44.99
Number of Players: 1-8
Developer: 989 Sports
Publisher: Sony

Rating:
***1/2
out of
*****

In my review of NFL GameDay '99, I said that with some minor tweaking and roster updates, NFL GameDay 2000 could retake the lead over the Madden series in the PlayStation football wars. Well, someone at 989 Sports must have read my review. That's exactly what has happened with GameDay 2000. It's basically the same game as last year, with some minor additions and the roster updates. However, the result is not as pleasing as I had hoped.

Let's start with what has been added. There are now over 1200 possible plays (which has been doubled from last year). The on-screen representation of players are now scaled to fit the actual height and weight of the real players. (So, this year, Kordell Stewart doesn't look or react the same as Jerome Bettis in terms of body size and speed.) A General Manager feature has been added that allows you to control franchise decisions over the course of several seasons. And, there's also a new, and very unique, Telestrator feature added to instant replays. They have also added some neat new animations, including wrap tackles, flips as well as new player celebrations, some of which border on the ridiculous.

989 Sports has done a wonderful job with making its football game the best looking on the PlayStation. It was true last year and it's true this year as well. However, instead of improving the minor problems left over from last year's version, they didn't really change anything. There are numerous polygon seam tears and players that walk through each other on a regular basis but, since this really doesn't hinder the gameplay, it's forgivable. The graphics are top-notch and, even with newer consoles breathing down the PlayStation's neck, the graphics are more than respectable for a five year old machine.

New this year and immediately noticeable the first time you play the game, are the songs that have been added to the audio portion of the game. "Louie, Louie", "Mony, Mony," "Takin' Care of Business," and "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" -- to name a few -- come blaring out of your TV speakers after a team scores. It definitely adds to the atmosphere, but I'd have gladly traded them back in for a version of GameDay without audio bugs.

As has been the case with every copy of NFL GameDay I've ever owned, there are audio problems. This year, however, they've gotten really out-of-hand. The commentators, Dick Enberg and Phil Simms, make numerous references to plays that aren't appearing on-screen, but sometimes even stranger things happen.

For example, while playing as the Seattle Seahawks, I let the clock run down 15 seconds to half time. The gun sounded and I prepared to view the game's stats. However, instead of getting a stats screen, an instant replay of the preceding play was shown. The previous play was a simple short pass, thrown over the middle for a five yard gain. Simms began to criticize my offense for allowing a turnover (none had occurred) and then sketched with the Telestrator how the interception had occurred. The replay clearly showed my receiver coming up with the ball and there was never a change of possession during the course of the play. Strange stuff.

Other bugs cropped up and were evident almost without fail. When a team calls a timeout, a graphic comes up that shows the opposite team called the time out. The timeout is credited to the correct team, but it is a little confusing and could definitely cause problems during a multiplayer game when tensions are already running high.

The Telestrator feature is really cool for awhile, but it gets a bit repetitive. Hearing Phil Simms talk about a quarterback's patience "as he waits, waits, waits" gets a bit creaky after six times or so per game. Turning Phil's volume off works on the commentary but doesn't affect the Telestrator at all. In fact, I couldn't find a way to turn it off.

Last year, I criticized GameDay '99 for allowing celebrations for things such as running for a half yard. This year, you can celebrate botched kickoff returns, incomplete passes, and, even plays that might actually call for it, like touchdowns or sacks. I still think this "celebration" feature is fun, but it might be time for 989 Studios to make it available only when it's appropriate.

Still, even with all the bugs, the game remains playable to the Nth degree. Although, Sony's game of "Who'll get the game in stores first?" with Electronic Arts has resulted in the most incomplete rosters ever seen in a game that bothered to include them. For those that are wondering, in the alternate universe that is NFL GameDay 2000, Barry Sanders still plays for the Detroit Lions.

With this most likely being the last hurrah for GameDay as we know it on the PlayStation, it's good to see it remain playable and retaining the glitz from last year. My only wish is that 989 Sports would have been allowed to get a little more development time in to smooth over all the rough edges.

If you've got last year's game, you might want to stop and think before plunking down the cash for this year's game, unless you absolutely want the new animations, the Telestrator and the incomplete rosters. Otherwise, if you're new to the GameDay franchise, you might want to rent this one to see if the bugs bother you.

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