NFL BLITZ 2000 / Midway / Dreamcast
When Blitz was big in the arcades, I played very little of it, because it was usually expensive and surrounded by meatheads. So I don't know if the game is inherently shallow and not-so-fun, or if that's just a failing of this first Dreamcast port. But either way, yeah. Shallow and not-so-fun.
First gripe from the Gripe Department - rosters are beyond fucked and there's no way to trade or create players. Whoever did the team stats is either a huge homer or didn't really know what they are doing. Take, for example, Denver, who has the best overall team ratings in this game by far. Now granted, in the 98-99 season they won the Super Bowl and fielded one of the better overall teams in NFL history. I assume this is based on the 99-00 rosters, however, given that the mighty Bubby Brister is their QB in this one. With Bubby and absolutely nothing at receiver other than Shannon Sharpe, somehow they deserve a 5 (the highest rating) in passing, as well as a 5 in everything else except for defense. Other teams are similarly either over-valued or completely hosed. It's just all over the map and you have zero control over it.
I guess the game looked OK for the time but it hasn't aged well. The player models now look terrible with their ugly "mass of tumors" arms, and even QBs and kickers looking like some giant 'roid freak. Player animation is the high point here, being fluid and detailed. However, the fields and all other backgrounds are a complete afterthought and there's a pretty limited set of slams and jamz that you keep seeing over and over.
Unless you turn off the play selection timer in the menu (on by default and the game doesn't save settings), you get a ridiculously short amount of time to select plays. Which almost doesn't matter as the game is entirely made up of pass plays anyway, with "runs" being a simple option to throw to the halfback while he's still in the backfield on a handful of plays. Aside from making a team's running game nearly irrelevant, passing is an awkward scheme of holding the stick in the general direction of the guy you want to throw to, which is awkward enough when you've got two guys running different routes on the same side of the field, let alone when you're also being pursued simultaneously. And all the focus on passing leads to samey plays - in fact, every team starts with the same playbook, which can be edited but the other plays that are available aren't all that different. And if you just want a custom playbook, and not a saved season, the game eats up 99 blocks of VMU memory for some reason even though rosters can't be altered at all.
Defense works a little better but my only real gripe is that you don't really get to play as anyone other than a safety or linebacker, as there's no time to cycle to anyone else before the ball is snapped (against the CPU it snaps and passes almost instantaneously.) Due to the constant "hurry-up" style and the difficulty of getting control of a player close to the line, pass rushing is almost useless and you're pretty much forced to drop back into coverage every play. Though I must admit, chucking the receiver to the ground before the ball is even thrown is quite satisfying. The game also employs an interesting technique to prevent you from going offsides - there's an invisible forcefield up at the line of scrimmage until the ball is snapped!
The feeling I get with this one is that whoever did the console conversion didn't understand that the game needed to be moved farther from its arcade roots. The objective of an arcade game is to move the pace along as fast as possible and make the player fail in a fairly short amount of time so that they either pump more money in or step aside to let the next money-pumper step up. The game still plays like that to a large degree. It also needed more added to it than a few convenience options and a slapdash season mode thrown in. In spite of all the complaints, four players can still get a chuckle out of suplexing a celebrating receiver and then elbow diving on him, but the single player experience is nearly worthless. Check out the other versions of the game before settling on this one.
* Gameplay Video