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Each year, I need to buy one football game, and I usually alternate between college and pro video games so that I don't feel too ripped for buying the latest version of Madden or NCAA Football year after year.

So, after buying NCAA Football 2004 last year, I needed to go pro this year, and for the first time, I decided to go off the beaten path and buy a non-Madden pro football game since I purchased Super Tecmo Bowl for the Sega Genesis back in 1993.  Yes, you should be shocked by this...and, what's more shocking is...

...for the value and the graphics alone, this might be the second-greatest football video game of all time, since no one questions that Super Tecmo Bowl is the greatest football game ever made.  (At least, they shouldn't question that!)

Sacre bleu, you retort?  Well, what can I say--everyone talks about how the graphics of video games are so good that the casual observer might walk by the television and think the video game football might pass for a real, live broadcast...with ESPN NFL 2K5, thanks to the use of the ESPN Sunday Night Football broadcast standards, actual ESPN staffers Chris Berman and Suzy Kolber providing voice work and player models more detailed than any sports game in history, this game really does pass for real TV if you don't notice that your Xbox is running at full-tilt boogie.

The game itself is great, with all of your normal flavors--franchise mode, loads of individual moves for your offensive players, loads of plays, a playbook editor, practice modes and every single player in the league.  Plus, on the Xbox version, you can import your own playlist from the Xbox hard drive, so now I can go through the menus between games with Basement Jaxx or A Tribe Called Quest keeping me warm at night.  Naturally, there's online play, assuming you like getting your ass kicked by some burlyman in Nebraska with some time on his hands.

All of this AND the fact that ESPN NFL 2K5 costs just $19.99 means you almost HAVE to buy this game; and, in a season where you're going to be dropping a lot of money on games this fall (jeez, this year is getting ugly already), you gotta think about that pocketbook, baby!

Rating:  Opening Weekend


Feedback?  Comments?  Salma Hayek's digits?


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  Buy this game right away, and don't ask me any questions as to why that's a good move.  A game experience that will almost guarantee repeated controller abuse, lots of ManScreaming and high resale value, you will assuredly play this bad boy for months on end. 

"$40":  Usually after games have been out for a while, they drop in price slightly, or can be bought for slightly cheaper in combination with other new games.  Usually, that's about $40.  You'll feel good getting the game for this price, since it isn't quite run-out-and-get-it-right-now good, but it has enough game in the box for a few weeks' worth of enjoyment.

"eBay":  This game is not too bad, but you'd be better off buying it used from either or eBay.  You also might let a friend buy this game, let s/he beat it, and then try to buy it from them to make them feel better.  Yes, this does tend to feel like "Sloppy Seconds."

"Rental":  Like my cousin Ron, you should always rent games that you aren't sure about first, to make sure that your $50 is going towards something worthwhile.  For games in this category, this is the maximum amount of money ($5) and/or time (3-5 days) you'll need to either gain satisfaction from the game, or beat the game in its entirety.  Rental-rated games are also sometimes perfect for a weekend when you are going to be at home on your ass, with some time to kill.

"Dogshit":  Games like this should have never been released.  If you play this game for any reason, you will regret every second of the experience.  Further, if you can get this game for free, don't do it, because even for FREE, it will still be a negative experience for you!

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09