It’s the time of year again, where the pigskin comes back out of the closet and the NFL Season begins. And like always along with the new football season comes new football games. The Fever series has been an interesting one with the introduction to Live Play last year and some improved gameplay it looked as though the Fever series was on the right track to compete with the best (Madden and ESPN). Can Fever make the jump up and compete with the big boys or does it remain as a secondary football title?
Microsoft’s biggest announcement of the year regarding the Xbox was its new XSN Sports line which is supposed to add a whole other dimension to its sports games. From the courts of Wimbledon to the Lambeau Field XSN was made to try and bring you the best sports games with this great new service. The first game of the service has just been released under this new brand and it’s NFL Fever 2004 for the Xbox.
The one thing Fever had going for it the first two years is that it was new. Being a new football game you gave it some time to hope for improvements for the later years. Well now it is time that you would hope to see the game becoming a solid football title. For the most part I have complained over the past two years that Microsoft needs to figure out what they want to do with Fever. They have been trying to combine an Arcade Style football game and combine it with a Simulation and in my eyes it just has been going over to well. There were some minor improvements in last year’s version, but the gameplay has remained pretty similar throughout and stays about the same in this version.
Being an avid football fan, I have always enjoyed Fever, but have yet to find it worthwhile compared to other football games on the market. This edition of Fever unfortunately follows the same path as its predecessor, begging for a chance to get better and take advantage of the new XSN system.
This year’s Fever presents just about the same game modes of last year. The Exhibition, Season, Franchise modes, and further enhanced by Xbox Live capabilities will see you spending quite sometime playing this game. The Franchise mode has been upgraded from last year’s version, but there just isn’t enough good to find in the franchise mode to compare it to the much deeper franchise modes of Madden and ESPN.
When XSN Sports was announced there was a lot of hype surrounding it and its potential to really bring Xbox Live around with the sports titles. XSN Sports allows you to set up everything on the Computer (like leagues, tournaments, ect.) and then play them on your Xbox. So for XSN Sports is just starting to get its feet wet and it is already starting to evolve into a reliable and useful online service. Thus far online play has been pretty solid and you are really starting to see less and less lag in the game. The XSN service also keeps track of everything, from how many rushing yards you have had overall to wins and losses.
Problems that have plagued the Fever series in the past remain to be the main note for concern in 2004. The gameplay is just not keeping pace with what the other titles are dishing out to the market. This has a lot to do with what I mentioned earlier - the lack of decision on whether to make this game a full blown Simulation or Arcade title, because this ’in the middle’ nonsense is just not cutting it.
Passing on Fever has been upgraded to a system where you get a lot of control and in my opinion it can prove to be too much. The new system allows you to lock on a single receiver and then aim to a spot on the field to throw the ball, and if you do a nice one your player will go after the ball. The system is solid, but it is so difficult to get the hang of that most will not want to sit there and try and to learn the ways of the system. I do give some credit to Microsoft go going out on a limb and trying out this new passing system that can prove to be effective if you get the hang of it.
NFL Fever’s duo of Kevin Colabro and Ron Pitts have come back again and sound about the same they did in 2003. The announcing crew sounds fine, and doesn’t do much more then just sound fine. The commentary is pretty repetitive and doesn’t sound like anything you would hear on TV.
The graphics of NFL Fever 2004 have been improved from Fever 2003 but not by much to draw in new fans or impress the veterans of the series. It is pretty disappointing that they didn’t upgrade the character models from the blocky look that they have been given throughout the series, and that have yet to have been upgraded much.
The animation of Fever 2004 is probably the biggest downfall for the game. Passing in the game has needed to be upgraded for quite some time, and has yet to have had that upgrade. If you notice when you want to throw a quick pass the game loops it and throws it up for grabs. This is one of the many animation problems that are very noticeable and have yet to be solved.
Overall the graphics of Fever 2004 look almost the exact same as 2003, which isn’t overly impressive. The character models are bulky and the game overall just doesn’t look anything better then decent, and it seems like there are just better looking games on the Xbox console.
NFL Fever 2004 has some things that make it enjoyable and they have other things that hurt the game in the long run. In NFL Fever 2004 the Gameplay has its ups and downs and unfortunately the downs outweigh the ups. There is not much new or overly exciting to Fever 2004 that will make anyone go run out and buy the game. The gameplay can be frustrating because it doesn’t play like either an arcade or simulation.
Fever 2004 does have the XSN support, which really looks like it could be an excellent service. It’s just too bad the game couldn’t fall in line with the service. It is a shame there hasn’t been any serious upgrades to the Fever series, but maybe, just maybe Microsoft will see that the game needs some upgrades and NFL Fever 2005 could just be the game that leads Fever to glory, because Fever 2004 doesn’t get the job done.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.