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Make the right drafts and trades for the right players, properly prepare for game day each week, and execute on the field; then watch coverage of your winning performance on the nation's most popular and respected sports television network. Professional football fans find a new game with a familiar name in Visual Concept's ESPN NFL 2K5. Though the direct follow-up to 2004's ESPN NFL Football, Sega has returned to it's "2K" naming scheme — perhaps to remind sports gamers of the series' respected heritage.
There's more new to this year's version of the game than just the name, though, as ESPN NFL 2K5 brings a number of additional features to the established football series. The game's "Maximum Tackle" system is designed to put gamers in more direct control. Defensive players can now "wrap-up" a ball carrier to slow him down (if not bring him down), or perform harder hits if their aim is true. Ball carriers still have a chance to break free, however, if they can keep the defenders from holding on or lining up a straight hit. Generally, ESPN NFL 2K5 has been designed to offer a better balance between big hits and broken tackles than the previous year's game.
Other new gameplay features include an "Evade" move that has quarterbacks twisting and ducking to avoid sacks with a deft flick of the right analog stick. A "Virtual Identity Profile" ("V.I.P.") feature records the behavior of a human player, which can later be reloaded to influence a computer opponent's playing style. The games' "First-Person Football" mode returns, allowing players to see the action from behind the quarterback's facemask.
Realistically, some of what determines the winners and losers on the field come Sunday afternoon now relies on all the practice and preparations made the week before. In the week leading up to a contest, gamers can review films, statistics, and other information. Once they know what they are up against, they can have a key player practice certain skills to compensate, or even give him a day off to rest up for the big show.
Building on the previous year's presentation, NFL 2K5 flaunts its ESPN blessings with a television-style production that includes pre-game shows, post-game interviews, and even a highlight reel of games played around the league. Broadcaster personalities include SportsCenter anchor Trey Wingo, Mel Kiper Jr. to dish dirt on the drafts, Suzy Kolber reporting from the field, and Chris Berman wrapping it all up. ~ T.J. Deci, All Game Guide