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NFL Quarterback Club '98 Review

Publisher - Acclaim Entertainment
Developer - Iguana
Platform - N64
Type - Sports
Score - 7/10

NFL Quarterback Club's number one claim to fame is that it is the first N64 game in hi-res mode, with much sharper graphics than any other game. Since Acclaim first released screenshots, we've all been drooling and wondering if it could possibly look that good. Just turning on the game reveals that yes, in fact, it does look that good, leaving gameplay as the only question. While the gameplay isn't as impressive as the graphics, this is still a good game.

Quarterback Club offers all the play modes you would expect from an NFL licensed football game. You can play preseason exhibition games, a full season, playoffs leading to the Super Bowl, and tournaments. In each mode you can play any of the NFL teams or use your own created team. Previous games in the Quarterback Club series have had historical simulations, and this is no exception. You can step into a huge number of real matchups at pivotal moments in the game or other games that we would have liked to have seen that never actually happened. You can even create custom simulations, pairing two teams at a dramatic moment in a game and playing through to the end of the game from there.

During the game, select plays from the playbook, including special plays for each team and plays designed by Brett Favre. In addition to basic play calling, Quarterback Club includes Hyper Audibles, so you can change the play at the line of scrimmage. During the play, you have a slightly larger range of moves than allowed in Madden 64, including one handed catches, various fakes, spins, and other moves to avoid tackles.

The gameplay doesn't feel entirely realistic. Passes that should clearly have been caught will frequently bounce out in unnatural ways. Running the ball also proves to be a challenge. Expect negative yardage, at least until you start being able to hit holes and make real gains. Other players tend to suffer from a delayed reaction. The defense will stand still until you get close to them, rather than actively pursuing the ball carrier. These problems function as a reminder that you're playing a video game, rather than watching a real game.

The high resolution graphics in this game just look incredible. You can read the names on the back of the players' jerseys, and everything in the game looks extremely sharp. You may not fully appreciate the difference until you go back to another game. I thought International Superstar Soccer had great graphics until I went back to it after playing Quarterback Club, and found that it looks fuzzy in comparison. In spite of the graphical detail, the game still moves very smoothly. There are some graphics flaws though. The characters tend to run only in eight directions, and turns are sudden and unnatural. In spite of that, they are animated well, with lots of moves and good transitions from one action to the next.

The sound is the definite weak point of the game. The play-by-play may have been done by Marv Albert, but it sounds lifeless, as if he's just reading from a script. With poor announcing, you will turn to the crowd noise, only to be disappointed there as well. The crowd noise is so weak, it sounds like the audience is sleeping instead of watching the game. At least the game sound effects are acceptable.

The control is good. Players do things when you want them to do them. There are some special moves that come out only by doing certain things with the control stick, but these are not documented. They are easy enough to just come out in game play, so you will learn them soon enough anyway.

Like Madden 64, Quarterback Club supports the Rumble Pak, and like Madden 64, I'm not sure what the point is. The controller shakes during tackles and at other big moments, but I can't really say that it improves the gameplay.

Quarterback Club is pretty. The graphical sharpness makes it a definite leader, and hopefully other sports games and other games in general will be stepping up to the same level in the future. If you want to play football with the real NFL team names on the Nintendo 64, this is your only choice. Fortunately the rest of the game is good enough to pull it off, but it does leave room for improvements in the future.