I just bought it yesterday (for PS2) and have only played a few games. Please chime in with your own impressions if you’ve already bought the game, or with questions if you’re thinking about buying it. Off the top of my head:
- The biggest new feature is the QB’s “Field Vision” in the pasing game. A QB can only look at a portion of the field at a time. His field of vision can be larger or smaller depending on the difficulty setting and his stats (presumably his Awareness). The QB gets an accuracy boost for throwing to receivers within his field of vision, and a big accuracy loss for throwing to receivers outside of this field.
This is very tough to get used to. Controlling the QB’s field of vision manually (right analog stick) is very difficult, and next to impossible if your QB has a narrow field. You can have your QB automatically lock on to a receiver by hitting R2 and the receiver’s button, which adds two steps (and several precious fractions of a second) to the action of throwing a pass.
A nice wrinkle of this system, however, is that staring down your intended receiver is likely to result in a pick, while looking away until the last moment may help him get open.
2. To offset this increased complexity, it does seem that your receivers get open a little bit more easily. I could be wrong about this, however.
3. I haven’t tested the franchise mode in depth, but one good sign is that the CPU teams actually sign useful free agents at the start of the year. In previous versions, teams with plenty of cap space would just stick with their 75-rated starting MLB instead of signing the 88-rated MLB that’s up for grabs – they’d only sign free agents during the season if forced to by injury. In this version, there’s a signing spree before the first week of preseason.
(However, the top free agent available at the start is a healthy Ty Law, with a rating of 97 – um, no.)
4. The new use of the right analog stick in the running game seems awkward. It still directs lead blockers, but only if the blocker is very near to a defender. Otherwise, it will either make you try to bowl over a tackler, or to do what seems to be a half-assed evasive maneuver that mostly consists of standing still. It’s frustrating to throw the stick forward hoping to send your FB to seal of the outside, only to see your RB stop dead in his tracks instead.
5. In previous versions, in order to sprint you pressed X on offense and O on defense (since X was reserved for changing the player-controlled defended). This year, X always sprints, and you press O on defense to change players. This seems like a more rational system, but getting used to it is extremely frustrating. I can’t tell you how many times on defense I’ve turned to sprint, only to accidentally switch players and take myself out of the play.
6. The default view when you drop back to pass is much wider-angled than in previous years, which is nice. Now you can actually see the flats and the sidelines, which helps on offense, of course. It also helps on defense if you prefer to control the Safeties or CBs, which I do.
7. The computer still completely sucks at running the ball. Why can’t they fix this?
8. The CPU kickers no longer have super-human accuracy on field goals. They do still have unrealistically weak legs, however.
9. The computer’s clock management skills remain . . . well, let’s be honest: what skills?
10. The graphics look about the same as last year.