NFL 2K1 Hands-On

Sega's NFL 2K1 is nearing completion, and we've got hands-on impressions of a nearly completed version, complete with the lowdown on the Internet mode.

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Sega's update to last year's NFL 2K is getting closer and closer to completion, and it's shaping up pretty nicely. While there are still a few graphical glitches, and the networking is constantly undergoing improvements, the basic game is in place.

Sega and developer Visual Concepts have decided to keep the gameplay very close to last year's game, but that's not to say that the game is identical. For starters, the game speed has been pumped up a little bit, and the running game has been greatly improved - meaning you can actually put together an effective running game. The game now contains a franchise mode, which lets you take a team through multiple seasons. As you progress, you'll see your older players retire. You can also attempt to trade players to other teams and sign free agents. A few recently retired players, such as Dan Marino and Steve Young, are hidden in the game as free agents. Also, some teams have extra historical uniforms.

Obviously, the game's main draw is its network mode. While the game itself is still a little buggy at times, the one-on-one network play is rock solid, and it's just as fast as playing two-player would be normally. Sega representatives assure us that a full eight-player online game will run just as smoothly. The network mode dials in to your ISP, then gives you a choice of several different regional servers. Each server has its own lobby, where you can chat back and forth and challenge people to online matches.

The game re-synchs itself between plays, so random problems with lag or dropped packets should be few and far between. But in the event of a disconnection (say, for instance, someone picks up one of the other phones in your house and starts whistling into the receiver), the game halts, and you have a chance to redial and reconnect to your game. If you're on the other end, a window pops up informing you of the disconnection, and gives you the opportunity to wait for a reconnect or quit back to the lobby.

Plans for online stat tracking and tournaments are in the works, but nothing has been finalized just yet. Aside from getting online to play against other people, you'll also be able to download updated stats. This way, if a team or player in the NFL gets extremely hot during the next season, Sega will be able to adjust the in-game stats accordingly.

NFL 2K1 is currently scheduled to ship alongside the rollout of SegaNet in early September. We'll have more updates as the game nears completion.

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