The wait is finally over as Gameday 99 has finally arrived on stores shelves, thereby raising the bar for other American football games of its kind to follow. The hype of such a coming on the PC was heightened by its predecessor's release on the Sony Playstation. Among all the American football games that are scheduled for release this year; such as Madden 99, NCAA 99, NFL Quarterback Club, and others; Gameday 99 does an excellent job of providing the user with not only a realistic environment in terms of graphics, gameplay and realism, but more importantly it is also fun, which provides for great late night multiplayer gaming.
Graphics: (18 / 20)
The graphic engine for Gameday 99 is a ported and enhanced version of its Playstation companion. However, what really impressed me what the fact that 989 Studios was able to give us a near perfect re-creation of the playing field environment, the players, stadium and other important elemental details. I was surprised, however not disappointed, to see the game actually run faster in Direct 3D mode than in Glide. Maybe the programmers have a few more bugs to work out in that department, but I find that the Direct 3D version (for Direct X5) played smoother with NO graphics loss or drop in framerate. In my opinion I cannot see anything the graphical programmers could have done to make the game look better in Glide mode since there was not really that much more they could do. The players have detailed jersey's and realistically move around the field during huddles and so forth. Other graphical features of this game include the fact that the engine is tweakable by providing 4 to 5 different levels of graphical detail. On a Voodoo a player might want to play on Medium graphics, however, if you have a Voodoo2 feel free to turn up the detail to VERY HIGH. The game is not texture intensive, like most people think, however, it is polygon based and therefore the need to possess a graphic accelerator capable of spitting out loads of polygons is essential. 989 Studios may have some work to do in tweaking the graphics in the multiplayer environment and they tend to lag a bit and skip frames from time to time.
Sound: (12 / 15)
In terms of sounds I have to say one thing, the play by play is totally disgusting. This might be appropriate for some game created in late 1995-96 but we are in 1998, and I think we would all like to hear more smooth flowing play by play like EA Sports is famous for. I find that turning off this option helps the game enjoyment quite a bit. Gameplay sounds are above average and are pretty cool to hear. Realistic football sounds make the player feel like they are on the playing field themselves and the other sounds such as the grunts, hits and movement are there as well. Not a lot more to say about the sound expect I did not find any option for 3D sound support and this is very sad to see considering there have been 2 viable APIs existing for over a year now.
Gameplay: (28 / 30)
Here is where the game really gets it's points. This game has one of the most intelligent playing engines I have ever seen in a football game to date. It even rivals Madden 98's self-professed liquid AI to provide the player with the most intensive competition he or she has ever faced. From Rookie to Veteran, the changing of modes in the game ACTUALLY makes a difference in how the AI reacts, unlike other games where it is tough to tell them both apart. If you plan on playing the game with a joypad, be sure to pick one up that has a lot of buttons, more than 8, to compensate the need for binding all available moves. On the player's side of things the amount of control that is available is SPECTACULAR. When a player is on the offensive and has the ball, he or she can spin left, right, fake one direction and go another and lots of other essential football moves that are seen on the field in real life. Players also have numerous amounts of plays at their fingertips and plays can be added and thrown out if necessary. The tackle system is also quite unique due to the fact that you cannot just press the tackle button and be successful. In order for a successful tackle to take place, the player has to actually wrap himself around, via the directional pad, the player with the ball. Depending on which way the player is being pulled, the ball carrier falls in that given position. Overall this is what really makes the game better than any other football game I have ever seen, its ability to offer the player total control over every situation that is occurring on the field.
Fun Factor: (17 / 20)
No matter how you look at it, even if you are not a huge football fan, the game will appeal to you. It provides a fun environment to play in and repels one that is boring and so realistic that you do not feel like playing anymore. Playing with other players is, of course, one of the better aspects of this title, however, playing by yourself too and cycling and competing in the different modes available also prove to be quite exciting.
Multiplayer: (5 / 5)
The multiplayer engine in this game is really amazing, however, it might not be for people with a 33.6 modem, however, a 56K modem will do just fine. For years and years on end people have wanted to play a great football game over the Net and not just with a bunch of friends in a room. The engine is tweaked so that it compensates for the slight drop in framerate, however, it gives the player more viable and stable connection for both players to enjoy. No lag existed at all during my gameplay with others and this is great too see. 989 Studios also has its own 989.net server to play on, and after a quick 3 step account creation process I was ready to go.
Overall Impressions: (8 / 10)
All in all an excellent game in terms of a sports title and a good pick up if you are a fan of football or simply want to try out the game, you will not be disappointed.
People who downloaded NFL GameDay 99 have also downloaded:
NCAA Football 98, NFL Quarterback Club 97, NFL Pro League Football, Madden NFL 2000, NFL Legends Football '98, Hardball V Enhanced (a.k.a. Hardball 5 Enhanced), Madden NFL 2001, MVP Baseball 2005
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