ESPN NFL 2K5
Publisher Sega | Developer Visual Concepts | Format Xbox | Release 2004
EA’s Madden series has held the exclusive NFL licence for 13 years and counting, so it’s easy to forget that it went helmet-to-helmet with an officially branded rival in the early 2000s. Indeed, the love for ESPN’s Gridiron series remains so strong that modders still update the PC version with new rosters on an annual basis.
Sadly, that isn’t possible on Xbox, but certain features have stood the test of time. The halftime show presented by Chris Berman remains best-in-class, playbook structures are deep yet easily navigable, and modern franchise modes would do well to implement nuances like team meetings. An unlicensed Xbox 360 follow-up, All-Pro-Football 2K18, is worth a bargain-bin pick-up.