I installed ESPN NFL Primetime 2002 for the PC, with mild enthusiasm. I am not new to the Primetime football game, as I’ve played it for the PS2. And right off the bat, I would like to say it is a port of the game released for PS2 and Xbox earlier this year. There are improvements however, the PS2 version contained a mediocre A.I system which resulted in an unsimulistic feel, the PC version seems to contain a higher level of A.I as defenses adjust better to offensive formations and when you play the computer. Also the play calls made by the computer seem to be more random than they were in the PS2 version.
The graphics for Primetime are not great yet they’re not bad either. They are presentable but they do not come close to the detail and crispness of Madden 2002. I hate comparing games to other games of the similar sort, but for football games everyone knows the benchmark is Madden and that justifies me comparing the two. The graphics are good in the aspect that coaches can be seen on the sidelines chewing out players and reflections are present in player helmets.
The Presentation of the game is decent. The menus are energetic and look nice but sometimes the navigating is a little hard when there are multiple sub topics for a certain menu. During game action, the commentary is great! I’m a big fan of Chris Berman and Tom Jackson and watch NFL Primetime every week during the football regular season. They provide a “football season” atmosphere for the game and their commentary really adds to the fun feel of the game.
So to summarize thus far, the gameplay is mediocre and is nothing special but don’t let this fool you because Primetime 2002 is still a jewel, it may not be a gameplay marvel but it has a very good upside, its wicked Franchise mode. I cannot say enough good things about Primetime’s franchise mode. It virtually lets you take control of every aspect of your team, from signing players to deciding whether to have a linebacker spy on a QB. You can participate in the franchise for up to 15 years. During the franchise if you simulate games, you have an option to really control what your team will do on the field. You select how much your team will blitz, how much they will run or pass and also which players from the other teams offense you will double team. Also there is an option to have a spy on the QB at all times.
This is useful when you play against a team with an elusive Quarterback. It comes in very handy, for example every time I play the Eagles, I always spy Donovan McNabb because you never know when that guy’s going to bust a 45 yard run on you. Also in Primetime’s franchise you can chose to play the Pre Season. This is great because you actually get to select which players play which quarters in the pre season, and during pre season games their overall ratings get adjusted due to their performance. For example, if you draft a rookie quarterback, you can have him play two quarters in pre season games and if he has good outings his over rating will improve but if he has bad games his rating will drop.
Trading in the franchise mode is also wonderful. You have the option to place certain players on the trading block and collect offers from teams regarding those players. I love this option. It’s great to put some of your good players on the block and see what kind of offers emerge. Some offers are worth while but others aren’t, that’s were your GM skills come into factor. To close, NFL Primetime is not the best game to look at and it may not be one of the most challenging football simulations you play, but that’s no excuse to not purchase this game because the franchise mode is the best I’ve seen to date in a football game.