Sega Sports NFL 2K1 Hands-On

Sega Sports' NFL brand made an impressive return at E3, complete with new gameplay features and online multiplayer options.

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One of Sega of America's most successful games of the past year came back in a big way at E3 in the form of Sega Sports NFL 2k1. First the obvious, this latest release will feature complete support of networked multiplayer football action. Up to 8 players, on two Dreamcast consoles, can log onto SegaNet and take part in the ultra-realistic gridiron action. But then again, you knew that already. What are some of the gameplay changes for this year, you ask? There were quite a few major ones.

Aesthetically, the game's look and presentation has changed dramatically. Although it maintains the distinct NFL 2k feel snazzy new intro sequences and menu tweaks has added a glitzy look to the game. The graphics overall are also much crisper, and more detailed. Despite the increased polygon count the game still moves incredibly smooth, as well.

Visual Concepts has also spruced up the play selection portion of the game, with tons of new plays on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. On the field, both the passing and running games have received tweaks, with most of the work going into the latter aspect of the game. From what I played at the show, it seemed as though VC has made it a little easier to run the ball. Having said that, the game still demands a lot from the player in the running game. A new juke button has been added. However, instead of a universal juke move, players have control over the direction they want to fake, left or right. This combined with the familiar rapid-fire turbo button maintains a modest learning curve for the running game. The passing game, other than the addition of new plays, seems to have remained pretty much intact. The downfield passing game is still the best weapon.

On the defensive side of the ball, there have been fewer changes. The AI seems to be smarter, as they will recognize crossing routes and step in front for interceptions. VC has also included what they call "true bump-and-run" on defense. Other than tighter coverage from the defensive backs however, I didn't really see this feature being truly manifested during a game.

The major problem with NFL 2k1 at this point -- which takes us back to the online multiplayer feature -- is the considerable lag during network games. Unlike NBA 2k1, its NFL counterpart has substantial frame rate undulations during a networked game. Hopefully, Visual Concepts will fix up that aspect of what is otherwise a greatly improved game over last year's version.

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