NFL 2K2 for the Xbox is marginally better looking than its PlayStation 2 counterpart, but it doesn't really take advantage of the Xbox's hardware.
NFL 2K2 for the Xbox is marginally better looking than its PlayStation 2 counterpart, but it doesn't really take advantage of the Xbox's hardware. Aside from this slightly enhanced visual presentation, the differences between the two versions aren't that noticeable and really only lie in the AI department. The question for Xbox owners of course is whether it's better than NFL Fever 2002--which really comes down to personal taste, since both games are very good.
NFL 2K2 features all of the standard gameplay modes, including exhibition, practice, tournament, season, playoffs, and franchise. It carries the full NFL license, which means the game has all the real players, teams, and stadiums from the NFL 2001 season. The NFL 2K series originated on the Dreamcast, where one of its major selling points was its online functionality. Unfortunately, this feature hasn't been implemented into this year's PS2 or Xbox releases. You can, however, play the game with up to four players.
The single greatest thing about playing NFL 2K2 is that the game's incredibly responsive control really puts you in the game. The mechanics of a football game are simple: You pick plays, run the ball, throw the ball, and catch the ball. The mechanics in NFL 2K2 are no different except that the game actually puts you in control of some of these seemingly mundane tasks. For instance, you can run the ball faster by tapping the A button as fast as you can, you can really throw the ball to your receivers by using the analog stick to aim your pass, and you can catch the ball by pressing the Y button. These little control nuances, mixed with controls that translate into onscreen action, almost instantly pull you into the mechanics of playing football.
Whether you're playing defense or offense, NFL 2K2 is incredibly exciting, thanks to the freedom that the controls give you. For instance, if you're controlling a cornerback just as the pass comes your way, in an instant you have to decide whether you're in position to go for the interception or for the tackle. If you're not in the best position to try to make a play for the ball, are you in a good position to try to really lay into a receiver by charging up your move meter before pushing the tackle button so you might make him drop the pass? You'll find yourself asking these questions subconsciously and will only realize it after the fate of the play has been decided. On offense, for example, when controlling the quarterback, you can have maximum passing turned on, which gives you complete control of the placement of the pass, meaning you can literally aim your passes using the analog stick. This lets you lead or underthrow to your receivers just like a real quarterback would. The maximum-passing mechanic makes passing the ball extremely intense since the slightest lapse in concentration can and usually does result in an interception. Running the ball in NFL 2K2 is also quite an experience since the game features a couple of unique mechanics that make the running game extremely exciting. The first is an intelligent animation that automatically happens when your running back has to squeeze through the line or has to bounce off an offensive lineman. For instance, say you're running the ball with Tiki Barber, and the line just isn't really giving him much of a hole to get through. You'll see Tiki simply turn sideways just enough to squeeze in between his teammates. This intelligent animation not only looks very natural, but also makes the running game a whole lot of fun. This intelligent stumbling/tripping animation was in the Dreamcast version of NFL 2K2; however, it wasn't quite as balanced as it is in the Xbox version. You'll still be hitting some high running numbers but nothing unrealistic or unstoppable by any means.
In the AI department, NFL 2K2 gets some high marks, but the game does have one small problem. The computer plays very well on the medium difficulty setting and actually seems to get better throughout the season. The computer plays the ball well on defense both at the line and in the backfield. It knows how to position its line and how to use its defensive backs well. On offense, the computer is very efficient, especially on the ground with an A-list running back. It sometimes seems that the computer just really wants to win, and it's busting tackles left and right, but most of the time if you hunker down and give it everything you've got, you can at least keep it competitive. The computer is really good on the hardest difficulty setting but not as impossible as in the PS2 version. The one area where the computer isn't so smart is clock management. It can be late in the fourth quarter with only a few yards to go, and the computer will spike the ball instead of using one of the three timeouts at first. In the PS2 version the computer never called a timeout; in the Xbox version it does, but still not before it spikes the ball.