Acclaim's Quarterback Club 2002 marks the long-running football series' jump to the PlayStation 2, and while it's a definite improvement on the recent Quarterback Club titles, it still needs work. The game's weak artificial intelligence makes playing the single-player game for any real length of time pretty unexciting. For football fans looking for an alternative to Madden, QB Club 2002 is far from perfect, but it isn't terrible, especially if you're not interested in a single-player game.
Playing in the game's regular season or exhibition mode gives you what you would expect from an NFL-licensed football game, including all 31 teams and stadiums and more than 1,500 players from the NFL. The game features a total of four modes of play: season, exhibition, playoffs, and pro bowl.
If you've ever played a football game before, you'll feel right at home with the control scheme of Quarterback Club 2002. The controls are generally responsive and accurate, though quarterbacking and passing the ball in general are way too easy, forcing you to crank the difficulty up for any kind of challenge. On the game's default difficulty setting, you can almost call any passing play, heave the ball into the air, and complete the pass. Since the game uses a standard icon passing control scheme, throwing a huge pass for 30-plus yards is as simple as pressing a button. Needless to say, the AI's pass protection is way to lenient, which is Quarterback Club 2002's biggest problem. Even when you put the game on the hardest difficulty setting, the pass protection is pretty weak, though it does get harder to complete passes. But for anyone who's a hard-core football game fan, Quarterback Club 2002's AI will be a severe problem.
Though the game's primary mode is only average, the real shining point in QB Club 2002 is the game's quarterback challenge mode, which allows you to take your favorite NFL quarterback through a competition focusing on four different skill sets: speed and mobility, accuracy throw, read and recognition, and long distance throw. Previous Quarterback Club games have featured the event before, but none have pegged it with the level of realism that QB Club 2002 has. The quarterbacks all stand around and motion to one another as though they're talking among themselves, and the announcers do a wonderful job of hyping the event. Once the event actually starts, controlling the quarterback can be a bit of a trial, since the controls during the event are rather sensitive. But once you get a feel for maneuvering and throwing, the mode is incredibly challenging and fun to play, due mostly to the level of control the quarterback challenge gives you over the actions of the quarterback. You can throw the ball exactly where you want, when you want, and the quarterbacks are fairly agile and quick on their feet. If the main part of the game would have incorporated the QB challenge control scheme or at least offered you the option to choose, Quarterback Club 2002 would have been all the more better.
Quarterback Club 2002 looks quite good. Everything is very polished, from the game's intro and front-end menu screen all the way to the crowds in the stands. The most impressive-looking aspect of the game are the players on the field. The models are very detailed and feature extremely lifelike faces, making it possible to recognize most of the players just by looking at their faces. You can see veins in the arms of some of the players during a replay or in a postplay camera close-up. Even the uniforms look really authentic. And while the game certainly doesn't look better than Madden NFL 2002, it wouldn't be fair to say it looks worse--just different. The animation in Quarterback Club 2002 isn't as impressive as its photo-realistic textures, but the players move well and collide forcefully. The players blink, open and close their mouths, and show expressions, and if they get hit hard enough, their helmets will pop off and they'll run over and put them back on.
In the audio department, the play-by-play and color commentary provided by Kevin Harlan and Bill Maas is lively and authentic. It's also rather repetitive, and after playing a couple of games with the same team, you'll hear some of the same quips being recycled.
Aside from the game's exceptional QB challenge mode, there isn't much that really stands out in Quarterback Club 2002. The presentation as a whole is well done and the game controls are decent. The AI is a bit too predictable, and it's way too lenient on the pass protection, detracting from the game's realism. QB Club 2002 is by no means bad, it's just simply not Madden 2002. However, the visual style, the QB challenge mode, and the generally tight control make it at least worth a rental, and possibly more for those who find Madden's simulation style unappealing.