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Game Over Online ~ NFL Football Pro 99

GameOver Game Reviews - NFL Football Pro 99 (c) Sierra Sports, Reviewed by - FKrueger

Game & Publisher NFL Football Pro 99 (c) Sierra Sports
System Requirements Pentium 200, 32 MB RAM, 4X CD-ROM, 2MB Video Card, DirectX 6.0
Overall Rating 43%
Date Published Thursday, January 14th, 1999 at 10:18 PM

Divider Left By: FKrueger Divider Right

Football fans around the world can rejoice now that NFL Football Pro 99 has made its way to store shelves. Or can they? It’s been a few years since Sierra has given their acclaimed football series a face lift, but this year’s edition boasts a number of new features including a brand new 3D-arcade engine, 3D polygonal players and stadium, complete financial model for team management and a whole lot more. Unfortunately for the end user, the game was clearly rushed out the door so we’re faced with a game with an ungodly amount of bugs and other critters.

It’s a shame that Sierra Sports pushed to release this title so soon. In past years, Front Page Sports Football Pro has been far and away the best football simulation available on the market. Nobody else comes close to giving a realistic feel for football both on and off the field. Madden 99 pails in comparison as EA Sports continues, year after year, to ignore any kind of league play, focusing solely on arcade action. NFL Football Pro 99 had the potential to become the ultimate football game available today, instead we’re stuck with one of the biggest letdowns of the year hoping that one day, out of the blue, a patch will be made available that’ll make our mouths drool for football again.

NFL 99 features a brand new 3D-arcade engine including 3D polygonal players and stadiums. In the past, Sierra hasn’t really focused on the arcade aspect of football, preferring to create an all around football experience. Football enthusiasts looking for great arcade action are usually turned off by Sierra’s football series, but this year promised to be different. Unfortunately we’re treated to the same old song.

The graphics are really quite nice. At full detail, it even rivals Madden 99. The stadiums are really well done and each one is unique in it’s dimensions and atmosphere. The players themselves aren’t that bad either. The main problem here is the system requirements. As I read the box, I see that a Pentium 200 is the minimum requirement and believe me when I say that’s the BARE minimum. However, if you don’t own a Pentium 2-266 with a second generation 3D card, I have a hard time recommending you start playing this puppy. Luckily you can basically edit just about every detail there is in the game, so there are several ways to speed up the gameplay. Speaking of gameplay, I think the Broncos are about to take on the Jets. Let’s watch this one shall we?

It’s a sunny, Sunday afternoon as the Denver Broncos take to the field to face the hometown New York Jets (that would be the team I’m controlling) at the Meadowlands. The stadium is full to capacity and we’re ready for kickoff. The Jets will be kicking to the Broncos to start the first quarter. John Hall really wallops the ball, as the Broncos field the kickoff at their 40 yard line? (This brings me to the first bug. Your kicker can kick the ball at full strength, yet it only travels 30 yards? A tad confusing, but let’s continue with the game)

The Broncos have the ball at their own 45 yard line. John Elway calls the play and steps up behind the center. "45 Blue, 32 Red, Hut! Hut! Hut!". Elway drops back a few steps and hands the ball off to Terrell Davis, one of the best running backs in the game. Davis just stands there, clearly baffled by the Jets defense which has yet to break the offensive line? (Bug #2 rears it’s ugly head. Sometimes opposing running backs, upon receiving the hand off/pitch, will just stand there and not move. At other times, quarterbacks will drop to a knee on first down?!? My, my, Sierra has some issues to work out)

It’s four and out for the Broncos, as they couldn’t muster a single yard on offense in their first possession. They’re forced to punt the ball to the Jets. The punt travels 45 yards and the Jets return the punt and now have the ball on their own 30 yard line. Vinny Testaverde calls a running play, up the middle, for Curtis Martin. "Hut!" Vinny drops back and attempts to hand off the ball to Martin, who misses the hand off completely? (Bug #3 rears it’s ugly head. Running backs are prone to fumbling the ball. In some games I fumbled the ball a half dozen times on hand offs alone!)

Second and 10 for the Jets who call a passing play. It’s a slant that is intended for Keyshawn Johnson. For some reason, the Broncos are baffled by the play calling because nobody lines up to cover Keyshawn on the outside. Easy pickings as the snap is made and Vinny drops back to make the pass to his receiver. Keyshawn is completely open and will easily score a touchdown on this play, but he drops the ball? (Bug #4 is upon us. Is that butter on the receiver’s hands? Why do they drop so many passes? Even when completely left open, receivers will drop 2 out of every 5 catchable passes, leaving even the best QBs in the league with horrible pass completion percentage. On another note, cornerbacks are horrible at covering receivers, especially tackling them after they’ve caught the ball).

"That’s okay!" says the Jets coach. The hurry up offense is employed as the Broncos seem unorganized on defense. Vinny calls the same play for Keyshawn and for the second time in a row, the all-pro receiver is left completely open. The pass is completed this time, but the free safety has a bead on Johnson and will easily make the tackle. Keyshawn uses a burst of speed though followed by another, and another, and another. My goodness, all of a sudden he’s 20 yards ahead of the pack? (Keyshawn is fast, but not that fast, so here’s critter #1. Why is there a SPEED/EXPLODE button in football? Ok, I suppose running backs need to explode through the line of scrimmage when running the ball, but if you’re going to incorporate a speed button, you MUST make sure the opposing players use it too. Here, they don’t. With speed button in hand, you should easily be able to muster up 100 yards on the ground before half-time comes up, even if you’re controlling the Chicago Bears)

And so the Jets take a 7-0 lead. I’ll spare you from hearing the rest of the game as I’d like to keep this review under 100 pages. The score ended up 40-7 for the Jets in case you were wondering. Was there a point to all this babbling? Hopefully you came to the conclusion that this game has a bug around every corner. The gameplay is really an emotional roller coaster. There are some great features and some horrible bugs/critters in there too. Here’s a run-down of what else I found that I can remember:


  • Nice play-calling interface
  • Great passing system. No more selecting receivers, just press the button for the one you want. They are all pre-assigned with a button according to primary/secondary/etc. receivers
  • Finally, defense that defends the pass rush
  • Loads of camera angles


  • Your blitzes work 90% of the time.
  • Speed button?
  • Receivers drop too many passes
  • Kickers can’t kick properly
  • AI of opposing team is laughable.
  • Referees are as bad as in real life. Don’t they call anything?!?
  • There’s so much more!!!!

    Ok, but what about the team management options? I wish I could fill you in, but simulating a season takes forever! Every game is played out in full. Sierra has eliminated the FAST SIM mode and therefore you literally have to wait an hour for the league to advance ONE WEEK! Completely unacceptable not to mention the fact that the stats are completely unrealistic. The Philadelphia Eagle can finish 10-6 while the Vikings finish 5-11? I do want to mention though that the number of features in the team management area is outstanding. You basically have full control over every single aspect of your football team. You can be responsible for putting together a financial model for your team. You can be responsible for signing free agents, drafting future players, trading, signing current players to extensions, changing your current roster, creating new plays for your team, and more! It’s the most complete football simulation out there… but it’s buggy as can be. You can literally rip any team off by trading them draft picks for some of their best players. Injuries are also a problem. A pulled hamstring can result in your player missing an entire year? Don’t be pulling an Isaac Bruce on me now.

    Before I put an end to this review, I do want to mention two more areas. The sound in the game is average. The crowd effects are nice as are the on field effects. They can also be adjusted if you don’t like them. The play by play is done by Howard Davis, the voice of the NFL on CBS radio. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to know much about football. All he can say is "catch made by number 12, who gets tackled by number 56". Excuse me sir, those players have names. Please don’t refer to Brett Favre as a number. I know it might be a little much to ask, but EA Sports puts together an excellent play by play commentary using real names, I think Sierra Sports should follow suit.

    Finally, NFL Football Pro 99 does feature multiplayer options. I did manage to play a couple of games but the results were much the same. The game is very choppy on low end systems and connections, and the result is once again, a dissapointment. I suppose you don’t have to actually play the games, but rather just concentrate on the league options. Until those bugs are cleared out though, I think you’ll find you won’t be playing much multiplayer with anybody on or off the field.

    I could literally go on and on about NFL Football Pro 99. There is so much potential, and at the same time, so much disaster. I am a huge fan of Sierra’s football series (formerly known as FPS Football) and I’ll eagerly await a patch or next year’s edition as always. It never let me down in the past, but this year’s edition did just that. It’s for that reason that I can’t recommend this game to anybody out there, including die hard football fans. Sierra Sports says that a patch is on the way, but I don’t know how soon that’ll be, there’s so many bugs and critters in this year’s edition. It’s unfortunate that they rushed this title out, it could have been the pigskin of the year, but instead it’s a wound that needs some serious healing.


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