Another year, another set of football games. Like most other companies, Acclaim has bumped up the graphics and features in its football series. Unfortunately, the higher-res graphics of Quarterback Club 2000 interfere with the game's control and overall gameplay. The game appears so choppy at times that it's hard to see what's happening, making it completely frustrating to play. To combat this, however, you can tone down the detail level of the graphics and actually improve the game's frame rate. Die-hard QBC fans still might want to check out what this new installment of the series has to offer.
Basic features of the game break down into five modes of play: season, exhibition, tournament, playoffs, and pro bowl. You can manage your team with options like trading, drafting, signing, and releasing players, as well as managing the salary cap. You can, of course, create your own player and teams. Player attributes adjust during the season according to a player's performance.
New features include the ability to replay the key moments of all 33 Super Bowls with authentic game stats and real-time field deterioration that affects players' footing and movement. Needless to say, the game features all the NFL stadiums and teams, more than 1,500 players with official NFL photos, and player injuries, penalties, and weather conditions. The AI has gone through an overall reworking with the help of Charlie Weis, offensive coordinator of the New York Jets. Finally, you can select from 31 team-specific playbooks or create your own.
The most significant new feature that changes how you play the game is what Acclaim calls pinpoint passing. Basically, it's a system that lets you underthrow, overthrow, and lead your receiver when passing. This gives you the ability to throw the ball ahead of a receiver, making it possible for him to catch the ball without ever letting the defender get a chance to lay a hand on it.Visually, QBC 2000 is a mixed bag. The players look great and are incredibly detailed - some have eye black, nasal strips, taped fingers, and some players even have real faces mapped right onto their polygonal heads. The players have multiple animations for everything from tackling to touchdown celebrations - more than 1,200 motion captured animations, in fact. There's no denying the fact that the players look great; unfortunately with this high level of detail the game's frame rate takes a major hit, which in turn affects the most important thing in any game: gameplay. When you pass the ball over the middle, the frame rate goes way down; this not only makes it hard to see where the ball is, but it also makes it hard to judge when you should attempt to catch it. It's equally hard to judge whether a hole in the line is actually a hole, or if a linebacker is just waiting for you to try to squeeze through. To compensate for this, Acclaim has added a feature that lets you lower the detail of the players and turn off shadows and other various visual options, so that the game runs at a smoother frame rate. Sure, this may help the frame rate, but it also causes all the players to look as square as Gumby. There is a happy-medium setting, which allows the game at a steady frame rate while keeping the characters looking decent, but the whole concept of changing a game's visual representation to make it play better shouldn't be commended.
The audio in QBC 2000 is also a bit on the weak side. ESPN's Mike Patrick calls the play-by-play action, along with CBS' Randy Cross, who handles the color commentary. Other than the usual play-by-play stuff, there's not really a whole lot of chatter between the two.
In the end, if you're an N64 owner looking for the best football game on the system, QBC 2000 isn't it. With its inconsistent frame rate you really won't be able to appreciate how good the players look or any of the game's motion-captured animations. What's worse is that the game's choppy frame rate takes away from the gameplay, since sometimes you won't really be able to tell what's happening. People who want to play a good football game on a console system shouldn't have to tweak settings and optimize the game - it should be the best it can be right out of the box. I have been a fan of the QBC series for quite some time now, but this year, Madden 2000 for the N64 is simply a better game.