This game came out on July 20th, 2004, and the timing couldn't have been worse. First off, I had a term paper due for a summer school English class I was trying to knock out. I believe it was English 102, which meant Shakespeare, and so I wanted to get it over with. Believe me, I have an easier time understanding the agent overseas from the cable company than I do Shakespeare.
Then I had a really nasty case of strep throat.
Finally, I had this really cute girl who liked me. Now I'll never claim to be God's gift to women, but I did have my moments. And I have found out the hard way more than once (No pun intended) that when a girl wants you, she wants you now! Not necessarily next week, not necessarily in a few days. Now. Unfortunately, now wasn't an option with the term paper, ESPN NFL 2K5 and strep throat.
I remember going to the doctor a few days later when I wasn't feeling any better, and specifically asking if I was cleared to kiss. The doctor rolled her eyes and said that that should be fine. So on the date I went, and hell if she didn't get strep a few days later. I guess in the big scheme of things, strep isn't the worst thing a guy could give a girl.
And after all that, I was dateless, strep free, got a C in my English class, and still had ESPN NFL 2K5. And holy cow was I blown away! Still am, actually. I had never in my life seen a football game with such amazing graphics and presentation. In all honesty, I think that Madden 05 had better gameplay, and that's why I ended up playing that more. But a few things stood out to me from ESPN:
1) The halftime show. My friends used to pummel anyone who skipped through it. On the Xbox you had actual replays, but on PS2, unless you had a hard drive, all you got were still shots. I never did get the hard drive because I lived at home at the time, and from what I remember, the compartment it went into made a fine spot to hide your weed. But I digress. Chris Berman did say some odd things like "A.J. Touchy-Feeley" (Dolphins' quarterback in 2004), but we had never seen anything like it. Add in the ESPN presentation, and you have yourself a real winner. Nowadays I skip through Madden's halftime show no problem because it sucks.
2) The jerseys. I'm huge on them because I'm naturally a nostalgic person. So imagine my delight when they had pretty much every team's jersey from like 1965 to present...well, 2004 in any case. The Patriots had different jerseys in 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995, and this game has each and every one, home and road. Why can't Madden or The Show do that?
3) Just the overall presentation, plus the graphics. From the feeling you get watching Sportscenter, or, at the time, Sunday Night Football, which was on ESPN until 2007. The announcers are a couple no-names who wear thin after a while, but hey, nobody's perfect.
I also found that running the ball and playing 3-deep man coverage are the keys to getting wins. Like I said, I give the gameplay edge to Madden 05, but that's not to say that the gameplay isn't good.
Unfortunately we got that awful exclusive deal that meant that only EA can make NFL games after this, but playing ESPN is a frustrating reminder as to how far we'd be if EA had any competition whatsoever. I will always pop this one in from time to time because it's a classic.
And if anyone knows how to get the retro rosters on here from the internet, I'm all ears. I also have this for the Xbox and I have the 360, so as you can see, I am quite flexible.
Tell us about games you are currently playing. "Quick hit" reviews.
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