In Part II of V in “What Would a 2K Football Game Look Like?”, we go over presentation. While Madden has the same bland presentation (besides adding new announcers in Madden 17) every year, NBA 2K consistently has a fresh and realistic presentation. We will look at how a fictional NFL 2K video game would handle the presentation, both on and off the field. If you missed Part I, you can read it here.
Part I: Players
Part II: Presentation
Part III: Franchise Mode
Part IV: Career Mode
Part V: “Ultimate Team” Mode
The new commentators in Madden 17, play-by-play man Brandon Gaudin and analyst Charles Davis, were a nice changeup from Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, but have become just as stale in a short amount of time. They sound like a video game commentary team rather than a realistic NFL commentary team. Phil Simms might have been annoying to some after a few years, but at least he and Jim Nantz actually announce NFL games together (Davis does, too, but Guadin does not).
An NFL 2K video game today would follow in the footsteps of NBA 2K17, where there are a few commentary teams. How hard would it be to get a CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC crew? Then, CBS would handle TNF games and Sunday day games, ESPN would handle MNF, FOX would split Sunday games with CBS, and NBC would also handle TNF games and of course SNF games. They could even show some of the games like they’re exclusively on NFL Network. Even if they had the basics from the crews, it would be better than hearing the same two people announce every game. Wouldn’t a Monday night game feel like a Monday night game if you’re listening to Jon Gruden?
If anyone played ESPN NFL 2K5, you probably remember the halftime highlights were done by Chris Berman. For a game in 2005, it was mind-blowing. EA Sports though, in 2017, has a generic dude go through the highlights. It makes it clear that users are playing a video game, which isn’t a good thing.
If the announcing didn’t make it clear you were playing a video game, the general presentation sure does. Madden has robotic-like presentation to introduce starters and such. If 2K Sports was in charge of an NFL video game, there is no doubt that it would be realistic. In NBA 2K, players do what they do in real life; there are thousands of animations for pre-game rituals, in-game celebrations, etc. On the other hand, Madden has Tom Brady and Bill Belichick kneeling and talking or something weird like that. That has not and will not never happen. An NFL 2K game would be able to have Tom Brady jogging down the sidelines and screaming “Let’s go!” before big games.
Take a look at some of the presentation for the start of the game in ESPN NFL 2K5, and we’ll break them down.
Boomer! As stated, way back in 2005, Chris Berman was in a video game, topping everything Madden has done in regards to presentation since. It would be awesome to have a short pre-game clip of someone in studio—particularly for primetime games. If NBA 2K does it, 2K Sports would likely have no problem doing it for an NFL game.
Here you can see a tailgate for a game in Philly. There are coolers, cups, and vehicles, including a car with an Eagles flag and even an RV. Remember, this was over a decade ago; imagine what 2K Sports would be able to do now.
Look at this. The detail in the sky. Dolby Digital. Scoreboard sponsors. Amazing. It’s frustrating just looking at this picture knowing that 2K isn’t allowed to make NFL games anymore.
To this day, ESPN NFL 2K5 continues to be superior to Madden in many aspects. The on-field pre-game introductions are natural and informative, unlike Madden, which has a robotic presentation, as stated. An NFL 2K18 game would be able to have just an updated version of what 2K5 had. Wouldn’t it be great to have a playoff game between Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger show their postseason records and stats?
This just feels real. Perfect form by that official showing the coin to each team.
Moving on, NFL 2K would have correct animations that makes the presentation as a whole great. A player that celebrates in real life should do it in a video game, and a player that simply hands the ball to the ref should do that in the game. In Madden, there is no separation between being humble and being cocky—with all players celebrating like an arcade game most of the time.
While 2K Sports certainly has their flaws, I have no doubts they would avoid making easy-to-fix but major mistakes like EA Sports. Madden has just four time options: 1:00, 4:15, 6:30, and 8:30. In real life, and NFL 2K, there would be times for 9:30, 12:30, 1:00, 1:05, 3:05, 3:30, 4:05, 4:25, 4:30, 4:35. 4:40, 6:30, 6:40, 8:15, 8:20, 8:25, and 8:30. Making matters worse, the ticker in connected franchise mode has wrong kickoff times, with 4:05 games saying 4:06. To be clear, out of the numerous kickoff times in real life, 4:06 has never been one of them.
The officiating crews need a complete change from what Madden does. Instead of having the same generic head referee for each game, there should be at least a handful of different looks and voices to change things up. That should take little effort to accomplish.
As far as in-game presentation, NFL 2K5 was well ahead of its time. Considering the below picture was in 2005, doesn’t this just look a lot better than Madden does?
The scoreboard looks great, and then here, you can see the ticker shows the starting offense (and defense) on the bottom of the screen at the beginning of the game.
2K also gets the little things right. Just check out this first down measurement…
…and the reaction.
That’s realistic and hilarious, and the snow on the ground moves us perfectly into the next section.
A factor that can play a huge part in football games is weather, but EA Sports has neglected it for years. There is absolutely no realism to weather conditions, with the user choosing clear, partly cloudy, overcast, rain, or snow before the game. Madden doesn’t even have light snow or heavy snow anymore like they used to; it’s just snow.
Are NFL stadiums in gigantic climate controlled domes or something? In real life, it is rarely cloudy, or raining, or snowing for an entire game. Weather needs to be dynamic to be realistic. A January game in Foxborough should be able to start with cloudy skies and turn into snow or vice-versa. A September game in Tampa Bay should be able to start off clear and sunny and suddenly have a thunderstorm roll in.
Battlefield 1 is made by EA, the same developers of Madden, and has dynamic weather. So why doesn’t Madden? Easy: they have the exclusive NFL license and have become lazy. In Madden, the only things different between weather conditions are the fields being white when it snows, the wind sometimes picking up with rain or snow, and a scripted slip every once in a while. There is basically no real impact on the game.
The lack of special presentation for the big three holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas) just proves that Madden has no heart to it. It happens in real life, so should happen for a video game. 2K Sports would get it done for NFL 2K just as they do in NBA 2K. Let’s break it down by holiday with real examples from the 2016 season.
Halloween games should have little bats or something else flying around the scoreboard, even if it’s just on score changes. Perhaps a little jack-o’-lantern or ghost could be used somewhere on the scoreboard depending on the broadcast. Even something as simple as #HappyHalloween faded in the corner of the screen would be cool, as the use of hashtags have become more prevalent in television. An easy solution without having to do a whole new scoreboard for the entire game would be to have a special end of quarter, halftime, and end of game scoreboard that says Happy Halloween with some characters on it. Also, fans in the stands should be dressed up for the occasion. Don’t we see someone dressed as The Joker at a game every year? Here are a couple photos from this 2016's MNF matchup (courtesy: ESPN broadcast).
The first one had bats come out of the door if it were a video, but the second one with cobwebs is easy enough to implement in a video game.
For Thanksgiving Day games, there is no excuse to not have a special presentation. The 12:30 game that’s on CBS for example, should have Phil Simms give out the All-Iron Award after the game. The games on FOX and NBC could have the outstanding players from the game stick around and eat some turkey as they get interviewed. Like we would do for Halloween, there will be some special graphics for the Thanksgiving games. The FOX broadcast could have the leaves falling on the scoreboard like they do in real life. Here are the examples from 2016, first from CBS (photos courtesy: CBS Broadcast).
How simple would that be to do in a video game? Here is the leaves falling on FOX that I mentioned (courtesy: FOX broadcast):
Finally, Christmas games. An NFL 2K game would have a great introduction for all games, but games around Christmas time would be awesome. They could have fans dressed as Santa, cheerleaders in Christmas clothes, players wearing special edition cleats (if they don’t care about fines, or just in warmups), and much more. Back to the FOX broadcast, they can have the snow falling on the scoreboard. If recalled correctly, NFL Network had Christmas lights around their scoreboard one year. Would it not be great to have a video game broadcast on CBS open with, “Merry Christmas Friends!” from Jim Nantz? Here is an example of something that can easily be done (photo courtesy: NFL Network).
A simple little Merry Christmas would be sufficient just so the player knows it's a Christmas game and it's at least a little different than normal video game broadcasts. Instead of worrying about Ultimate Team Holiday promotions, Madden would be wise to implement it into their actual game.
We have a list of other presentation ideas that should be easy to implement in a 2K football game:
- Tri-fold camera with coaches and ref for challenges and reviews.
- It should be a bigger deal for a rookie quarterback making his first start (or anyone making their first start, particularly at QB), and also should be a bigger deal if a player is returning from an injury.
- Building upon that, players playing in their first playoffs should be highlighted, as that happens almost every year (ex: Le’Veon Bell this season).
- Coaches in general need to act more like themselves. It’s unrealistic to see a calm coach being expressive all the time.
- Rookies should have their college stats for presentations before the first game instead of zero’s across the board. They never show 0/0, 0 yards, 0 touchdowns for someone’s stats.
- No on-field XP. A realistic, simulation football game should look close to how viewers watch the game on television. They don’t show “+100 XP” over a player for getting a first down.
Here are some more pictures, including postgame presentation, that I am sure would be in an NFL 2K game. It's simply mindblowing that none of this is in Madden.
And that is just some of the many examples that could have been used from ESPN NFL 2K5. Oh, what could have been if 2K Sports was still making NFL games…
Hopefully you enjoyed Part II. With the base of the hypothetical game now completed, we will get to the really good stuff in Franchise Mode next, followed by Career Mode. Follow @whitewolf on Twitter to keep an eye out for the rest of “What Would a 2K Football Game Look Like?”.