Just got ESPN Football for the XBox, and although I was looking forward to this game for a while, it still floored me. Here's my initial thoughts. (after about 4 hours of play) First off, one negative. As a fan of NFL2K on the Dreamcast, I was a little let down by the graphics of the turf. In the DC version, you could actually see the turf getting chewed up as the game progressed. ESPN has that, but the ground has a much flatter appearance and the dirt looks like it's just mapped on. It looks a little too clean. (haven't played in heavy weather yet, though) The rest of the graphics, however, are very slick. ESPN Football has a feature called "The Crib", which is a virtual house where you can display all your unlocked bonus items. Despite being gimmicky, this is very cool. The unlockables seem well spread out, some being very easy (amass 1 hour playing time), with others being incredibly difficult. Create-a-Player mode seems a little light, but I've never been too worried about adjusting the color palette of a player's nose plaster, so that doesn't come off as a negative to me. On the plus side, it's simple. I was able to create a custom player and had him on the field in a matter of minutes. The menus are complicated (because there's a lot of options), but are so much easier to navigate than Madden, IMO. (the menu was my biggest gripe about Madden for the PS2) Everything's very intuitive, and some items like The Crib are located in several menus, so you don't have to jump out of a season, for instance, to check out your new unlockables. So far, the game itself is what stands out the most. The ESPN announcing, pre-game rundown, and half-time report are just great. It really makes you feel like you're watching a real game. The game controls are easy to pick up, but deep enough that I'll still be adding moves to my repettoire for some time to come. Juggling between mashing "A" for speed or holding down to charge up for a big dive adds a little strategy to the running game. I only had to refer to the button mappings in the manual a couple of times in the beginning. After that, the onscreen prompts keep you well informed. The AI is very good. They work the clock well, and will even throw hail mary passes in the last play of the game, in a last ditch effort to score some points. It's possible to run a tight defense on the computer, shutting down their offense, but I've been burned several times on big touchdown runs, and rightly so on each occasion. I started a full season, and initially thought that you couldn't play custom teams in a season. But, it turns out, you just have to customize the league and replace one of the existing teams with your custom team. (which makes sense, because they have to be in a division to play) This wasn't initially clear, but I didn't read the manual, so that's my own problem. Playing a season, the game shows weekly reports that give a rundown of all the games, and shows highlights from several of them. It has quickly become my reason to play, as I hope that one week my custom-made quarterback might get a game ball, or be featured in a highlight clip. It also keeps you up to date on how the teams are stacking up. Regarding custom players, though. While I'm lucky to have a last name that was recognized by the game, (ie, the play-by-play calls him by name instead of his number) it wasn't used in the weekly highlight show. The announcer said something along the lines of "the custom created players racked up 200 yards..." Since I've only got one on my team, I would expect him to be referred to by name. But that's very nit-picky. It also may have been an isolated sound-byte. It would also have been nice to be able to pick through team nicknames for custom teams that the announcers could use, instead of just being referred to as "The Visitors." Anyway, I'm done blathering on. I'll just say that this game is very well put together, and I've only just scratched the surface of it. With a fully-functional franchise mode, downloadable rosters, online play, unlockable cheats, and a first person POV game yet to try, I'm definitely expecting to get my money's worth on this one. Of course, my custom team has suffered 3 season-ending injuries in the first 2 games, so it's going to be a long-hard climb to the superbowl.