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OPINION: It’s time for 2K Sports to bring back NFL 2K

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"tex playing video games" by RebeccaPollard is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For the better part of a decade, sports and gaming fans alike have been criminally subjected to the Madden NFL video game franchise. A series that was once promising back in the mid and late 2000s has now become a complete shell of its former self. What in the world happened — are Beavis and Butt-Head running EA Sports?

Step aside Madden as it’s time for 2K Sports to save us from another decade of football gaming travesty by reinvigorating the NFL 2K series. A sleeping giant that has been in a coma since the release of its last installment in “All-Pro Football 2K8.” 2K Sports, you are our only hope.

2K Sports set the standard for sports gaming with its release of “NFL 2K5” back in 2004, a game that stands on its own merits as the holy grail of sports video games. It continues to stand the test of time and is even regarded by many gaming circles as one of the greatest video games of all time.

This game had all the ingredients of a great sports video game. EA Sports, I suggest you take some notes. Its gameplay mechanics were unprecedented for its time as it made the game authentic and realistic. The CPU players would adjust on defense and offense to guess the type of plays that you were going to run before you snapped the ball. This made it feel that you were always in the middle of a chess match as it made it difficult to out strategize the computer simulation.

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Another creative touch was the halftime show feature that included ESPN broadcaster Chris Berman. This is what made the game memorable as Berman gave a full breakdown of the first half of the simulation game. It gave gamers the feeling that they were watching a live telecast of an NFL halftime show on ESPN. 

It also featured his trademarked phrases such as, “Whoop” and “He could go all the way!” These little creative details are intangibles that Madden has yet to emulate.

2K Sports even implemented cheerleaders into this game. Yes, you read that correctly. They could be seen performing on the home team’s sideline during timeouts and booth reviews. Not to mention, gamers being indulged in simulated fan tailgates where you could see an animation of fans barbecuing outside team stadiums.

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Much to the credit of “NFL 2K5,” “All-Pro Football 2K8” was nothing short of a gem as well. The game featured over 200 NFL Hall of Famers that were licensed by 2K Sports. The sharp fluidity of its gameplay mechanics and AI awareness makes it deserving to be stored in the National Archives Museum. It was the last great football game that has found its way into folklore and legendarium.

Legendarium certainly isn’t the word I would use to describe the Madden franchise as of late.

Everything that the NFL 2K games did so well, Madden has failed on an epic scale to implement in their own installments. Madden’s flaws are so appalling that I could literally write an entire novel just based on that component. 

For example, the series latest installment, “Madden 21” has god-awful tackling mechanics. The gamer might as well cue “The Three Stooges” theme song while they are getting tackled by a mob of defenders who have no sense of direction and stumble over each other any chance they get.

It’s baffling that EA Sports continues to churn out awful Madden games on a very consistent basis. It’s ridiculous that they are still being sold at $60 apiece. To put it in perspective, “NFL 2K5” remains, to this day, the undisputed champion of sports gaming. On the day of its release, it was sold for less than half of that. Albeit 2K Sports wasn’t the industry juggernaut that it is today, however, it still makes you wonder if your life is a lie.

If I’m the NFL, I’m stripping EA Sports the licensing rights of having the ability to produce these forgetful games. It only took me 20 minutes into playing Madden 21 to realize how mundane it was. At this point, why should Madden fans, like myself, even be surprised?

Madden 21 was the exclamation point for a year that was already considered one of the worst years in recent memory. It was a game full of disappointment and despair that clearly was not made from the heart. Cheers to a short memory!

Be gone Madden with your wretchedness and unfulfilling expectations. If 2K Sports is ever to make a comeback and salvage us from football gaming mediocrity; the time is dire more than ever!


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