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Sega's NFL 2K series returns to PlayStation 2 with a number of refinements to the presentation and a brand new name. The ESPN license has been put to better use, sporting a more integrated visual style with the use of pop-up overlays, statistical updates, in-game highlights, and more, all of which are designed to mirror ESPN's Sunday Night NFL telecast. The enhanced graphics include new player models with more realistic facial features, updated fields, and 3D crowd scenes where frenzied fans are shown pumping their fists, wearing face paint, or opening up their shirts to reveal team logos emblazoned on their chests.
Animations on the field have also been addressed, with gang tackles, sideline grabs, and double team blocks now a part of the mix. After a play is whistled dead, athletes will show their emotions by shaking their heads in disgust, cheering, or signaling the first down sign with their arms. Players who disagree with a referee's call can now challenge the ruling on the field by throwing out a red flag. Upon further review, the call will either be overturned without penalty or upheld, costing players one of their timeouts. Other changes to the game include a redesigned play-calling system and simplified controls.
Instead of viewing the plays directly on the field, ESPN NFL Football employs a more traditional menu system that organizes formations and plays taken from actual NFL playbooks. The game replaces the turbo boost with a new "charge" system that, when activated, enhances a player's overall abilities (based on his real-life strengths) for a limited time instead of just increasing speed. Returning to the game are Exhibition, Season, Tournament, and Franchise modes, with the latter expanded to include multiplayer teams. PlayStation 2 owners can compete online using a PS2 Network Adaptor, with the game supporting both USB keyboards and voice chat. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide