Acclaim’s NFL Quarterback Club franchise has a long history behind it, some of it good, some of it bad. Its best days were arguably seen on the Nintendo 64. As NFL Quarterback Club 2002 makes its debut on the PlayStation 2 this season, hopes are high that the venerable series will be able to match-up with the likes of EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2002 and Sega’s NFL 2K2, the clear cut favourites for the console. So without further ado, let’s head to the line of scrimmage and take some snaps.
NFL Quarterback Club 2002 features the typical game modes, including Practice, Exhibition, Season and Playoffs. The game also features both NFL and NFLPA licenses, so you’ll be able to choose from any of the 31 teams and their respective players. Noticeably absent is a franchise mode. The resulting lack of depth and replay value alone will undoubtedly leave diehard football fans pulling a different football game off the store shelf.
Exclusive to Acclaim’s NFL Quarterback Club series is the Quarterback Challenge, an event that takes place at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii each year. This mode is particularly fun if you can gather a few of your friends together. The Quarterback Challenge pits your favourite NFL quarterbacks, past and present, in a competition featuring four different contests: speed and mobility, read and recognition, accuracy throw and long distance throw. The events are well hyped by the announcers and although gaining a feel for the different competitions can take some time, the Quarterback Challenge is easily the highlight of the entire package.
Besides a lack of depth and long-lasting appeal, due to the absence of a franchise mode, the gameplay is marred by a variety of other issues as well. While the running game is sound, the passing game is far too simplistic. Using a standard icon passing control scheme, armchair quarterbacks will be able to complete passing thrown in single, double and even triple coverage. The opposing secondary is lenient, selecting far too many zone defences and only tightening coverage when the play gets in the red zone. The result is a football game clearly geared towards an arcade crowd, leaving diehard fans disappointed by the simplicity on both offence and defence. On the other hand, gridiron beginners will have no problem grasping both the control scheme and different elements of gameplay in NFL Quarterback Club 2002. The difficulty level can be altered but even on the highest level, you should have little problem running a healthy offence and shutting down the opposing team.
Visually, NFL Quarterback Club 2002 is a mixed bag. While by no means in the same league as EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2002 for the PlayStation 2, it does have its high points. The player models are well detailed, complete with facial features and varying body types that make them easily identifiable. Unfortunately, player animations aren’t particularly fluent, creating an odd and sometimes choppy feel to the game. The audio department is much like the visual department, with both high and low components. The commentator duo of Bill Mass and Kevin Harlan are enthusiastic enough, but otherwise repeat their dialogue far too frequently during play. On the other hand, the announcer in the Quarterback Challenge mode does a stellar job hyping up the competition. As for the rest of the sound, the word generic best describes both the effects and crowd noises.
The Quarterback Challenge is clearly the selling point for Acclaim’s NFL Quarterback Club 2002 and while it’s an entertaining mode to say the least, it’s not enough to compete against the likes of Madden NFL 2002. The lack of a franchise mode, along with various gameplay and graphical issues, leaves NFL Quarterback Club 2002 well back of the leaders. NFL Quarterback Club 2002 is certainly worth a rental or two, for a weekend competition of Quarterback Challenge with a few friends, but it just doesn’t offer football enthusiasts enough bang for their buck to warrant a purchase over the likes of Madden NFL 2002.