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     " To be read in the voice of John Facenda: A cold wind blows from the west. The warriors are assembled to do grand battle on the icy tundraÖ. Oh Christ, I can't keep this up. Its football- Dammit. "

   Title: Game Day 2001 by 989 Studios

   Format: Playstation Football

   Reviewing Monkey: Cornelius

   The Hype: The latest installment in 989ís long battle against Maddenís football juggernaut. Complete with new tackle animation, play editor, and a "smart opponent" AI engine. Head on Head vs. Madden? Youíll have to decide for yourself, monkey-faithful, until that is, we decide to stop picking our lice, come down from the tree and write a feature.

      What This Monkey Thought...

   Graphics: I think we have seen the final evolution of the Playstationís graphic capability. Not to say that the graphics are anything short of strong, the edge of the envelope has just been reached. 989 went to obvious pains trying to keep the look of the game fresh, and for the most part succeeded. Unfortunately new celebrations animations just donít make the overall quality any better (as a side bar you can choose to celebrate after almost every play which is a great way to rub a good play in your fellow monkeyís face). One of the coolest new features is the automatic replay format. While Phil Simms, as the color man, rehashes a nice play, pen overlays on the telestrator (think of Madden scribbling furiously on your TV screen) are drawn on-screen that accurately depict the running backís path, or the receiverís route. 989 went to great lengths to make the viewing style like that of watching a game on TV, and it shows. New tackle depictions are fun to watch and added to my enjoyment of the game, once again though weíve come to the end of the line, and 989 has done a fine job of leading us there.
    Iíll tell you this much; I canít wait to see 989ís entry for the PS2. For now however, the PSX is maxed out. Though only what would be a 3 out of 5, it gets 5 out of 5 for the system.

   Sound: All the sounds you would expect at a football game. Ambient crowd noise that follows game play, bone-jarring hits and refereeís whistles. As the home team you can also quiet down the crowd before a play (I have no idea if this affects game play, but itís cool), if you try to do it as a visitor they get louder, neato! Dick Endburg provides the play-by-play with Phil Simms as the color man. Surprisingly I havenít found them to be annoying yet; usually I turn off the announcers faster than a 6-hour gaming session turns off my girlfriend. The script is large enough that you donít hear the same lame comments time and again during any given game. The one feature I wish 989 would have added, and to be fair, wish every sports game would add, is a engine that can recognize self-made playerís names. To clarify (because I know that could not have made any sense) when you make a player and name him "xxxxx" that the computer could read that name and then the announcers could call them by said name. Nitpicky, I know, but that is why Iím paid the big bucks and you are sitting on your butt reading my review. All in all a solid job on the audio side. 4 out of 5

   Game Play: A solid entry into a long and illustrious line of sports gaming. 989 put a lot of effort into making 2001 a fast paced and fun game, they succeeded with flying colors. First off, and most importantly, the game is fun to play. No matter how poor everything else is, if the game is fun you will play it again and again. Second, it plays just like watching a football game on TV, which even makes watching your buddies play fun. Styles of play include season, playoff, preseason, practice, and general manager. General manager mode allows you to draft players and design plays as a coach, and of course play as the players themselves. The coolest feature about general manager mode is if you have NCAA Gamebreaker 2001 you can draft the seniors from your college days (requires tons of memory, but is totally worth it; pony up and buy the expanded memory pack lazy-ass). Practice mode puts you in a scrimmage against your own team and allows you to pick a play and a defensive scheme and run the play to perfection, a definite time consumer and well worth it. 989 have also included great teams of the past, all-star teams of all the teams in the league and pro-bowl teams.
    This game kicks ass. You will play. You will not put it down. You will send your first born to Gamemonkeys. 4.5 out of 5

   Level and Environment Designs: Are you retarded? Why are you reading this? Do I really have to tell you? For the love of god, you people drive me nuts. Itís a football game, they play in football stadiums. And yes, the stadiums in game are accurate representations of their real-life counterparts. Idiots. 4 out of 5

   Multiplayer: Up to eight friends to pound on, run over, and pass all over their asses. Need I say more? 4 out of 5

   Replayability: If youíre anything like me (Iím sorry if you are) you could play this game until 2002 comes out. 5 out of 5

   Story/Dramatics: (To be read in the voice of John Facenda) A cold wind blows from the west. The warriors are assembled to do grand battle on the icy tundraÖ. Oh Christ, its football, go to the playoffs and win the superbowl, and ultimately build a lasting dynasty. 2.5 out of 5

   Instructions and Learning Curve: The instruction book is decent. All the moves you need are in there, and everything about the game is there, briefly. Unfortunately the first time I plugged it in I found a way to turn off the salary cap and thus make a super team, however the next time and each successive time thereafter this feature has effectively disappeared from my game. Iíve read the instructions time and again, but still it remains a mystery. I pretty sure only Columbo could find it, and Peter Faulk is getting a little too old for detective work. Lately Iíve been disappointed by football game for being way too complex, i.e. push L2+O+down+select to juke. This is repeated for every tiny move a player could make. 989 have realized that football is fast-paced and we donít have time to do obscure button combos to make our players jiggle a bit. Gameday is simple and fast with enough advanced moves to keep me happy. Controls are crisp but natural, and players move like you would expect them to. Minor points are awarded for not needing to major in controller bringing us to: 3.5 out of 5

   Installation and Real System Requirements: Playstation and a TV. Donít be dumb. Good load times and maxing the system get it a 5 out of 5.

   The Verdict:

       : Pushes PSX football to the edge of its envelope, too bad with some of the new systems out that seems kind of tame. A great game that will be enjoyed for a while, at least until the PS2 comes out.

   The Good: Great game play, smart AI, excellent use of a telestrator, and the Gamebreaker to Gameday draft takes the cake.

   The Bad: Stuck in the comparative hell of PSX graphics.

   The Overall Ugly: This game wonít let you down. Besides itís is football season, you need a football game, and 989 has been nice enough to put one in your local video game store.
    PS. look for a side-by-side comparison with Madden 2001 in a new GameMonkeys feature "Cornelius Compares Crap" coming soon.

   What it's Worth: Market

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