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Microsoft's football series returns for a third installment on Xbox with the release of NFL Fever 2004. Once again, the game features Xbox Live support for downloadable content, roster and rating updates, as well as online tournaments with new measures to prevent cheating. One of the top areas addressed for this sequel was the computer AI, which now offers improvements to the secondary and opponents who are better at making on-the-fly adjustments to prevent the long pass or to stuff the run. The play-calling interface has also undergone some changes in an attempt to make it more intuitive and visually appealing for users of all abilities.
The passing game now offers a "Read and Lead" option where players can step into the cleats of the quarterback from a perspective directly behind the center. Players are free to look to the left and right and are challenged to spot the open man while in the pocket. Quarterbacks can also lead receivers so they catch the ball on the run to improve their chances of scoring. Those having trouble with formulating a game plan can seek out the advice of animated coaches appearing along the sidelines, who will provide analysis and tips for specific situations. Those new to football can also play using one-button passing controls, and the game's variable speed option allows users to speed up or slow down the action to suit their style of play.
Kevin Calabro and Ron Pitts reprise their respective play-by-play and color commentary duties as players envelop themselves in the NFL experience with 5.1 channel Dolby Surround Sound, downloadable music tracks, and the hard-hitting sounds of punishing tackles and player taunts. Rounding out the list of features are updated player models with more realistic proportions and authentic faces, redesigned stadiums, and a revamped blocking and tackling system that includes a variety of new animations. In addition to Xbox Live support, up to four players can challenge each other simultaneously on the same screen using the console's four controller ports. ~ Scott Alan Marriott, All Game Guide