VIDEO GAME Graphics, features make 'ESPN NFL 2K5' a winner

Players can watch ESPN-style highlights of the game they just finished.
Let's start off by warning that there is no possible way to list all the features of "ESPN NFL 2K5" in the space allotted this review. Therefore, we'll list what you can't do.
You can't hide a cell phone under the goal-post padding and pretend to make a call after scoring a touchdown. You can't pull a permanent marker from your sock and sign autographs after catching a scoring pass. (Both were performed by real players in recent years.) I don't think you can dump Gatorade on the coach's head after a win, but maybe I haven't made it that far.
The point, of course, is that sports games in general have become so complex that taking advantage of every new detail has made the games feel more like work than fun. In fact, being an actual pro football fan could be a liability to "ESPN NFL 2K5" addicts, because following the real sport may mean the less time you have to play the game.
Without going into too much detail, here are some of the game's features: You can manage your team's weekly game preparation by having your running back watch game film or have an injured linebacker adjust his workout schedule. You can customize your end-zone celebrations or stadium music. You can watch ESPN-style highlights of the game you just played. You can enable a system that tracks how you play the game, save the file and share it with friends, who can play against a computer version of you that mimics your exact playing style (assuming you're not around to play against them yourself).
This is in addition to existing features, including signing free agents to deals that take into account bonuses and salary cap; an option called "The Crib," which allows you to use points (accumulated during gameplay) and purchase items to furnish your home or unlock game items; and the ability to go online to play against others.
The good news is that, even with all this other stuff thrown in, if all you want to do is play through a season of football, it does really well in that department, too. The excellent graphics and game play should give the king of football games, "Madden NFL 2005," a run for its money when it's released this month. Plus the other good news: "ESPN NFL 2K5" sells for $20.

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