NCAA Football 09 Review – “It’s time for some real football”

NCAA Football 09 (Ps3,X360)

Electronic Arts, Tiburon

Ps3, Xbox 360

Last year, NCAA Football 08 was a step in the right direction for making an incredible football franchise this generation. Many were expecting NCAA 09 to be incredible, with its new break away animation system, and other new features. Unfortunately, I could have had a V8, but luckily, NCAA football 09 is that great experience football fans have been waiting for.

The biggest step up for the franchise is in its visuals. Now, I know I always praise EA Sports games for being pretty, but this game is assertively beautiful. Player models all look sharp and crisp, they move smoothly changing animations, the field has the best looking grass of any game, lighting is stellar. Mascots are detailed, as are cheerleaders and stadiums. The game runs smooth at 60 frames (even on the Ps3 version). Although there is still a lot of clipping going on, none of it affects gameplay in the slightest bit. The game doesn’t look perfect, but this is the best looking football game so far.

A big new gameplay feature is the animation system. Players, running backs in particular, aren’t stuck in a set animation for each move, they are free to move as they wish. Controlling a ball carrier has never been better, and it’s never looked better. It can be a little difficult to pull off moves at times, but like most games, there is a learning curve. Quarterbacks move authenically, as do the men in the trenches. The tackling animations are incredible, as certain tackles actually look painful. The amount of mocap done is amazing, and mostly everyone moves realistically. My only complaint is the lack of running animations. Everyone still runs the same, and it looks a little awkward, but overall this is a huge step up from last year.

Momentum has been taken to the next level. Quarterbacks have a “QB Quiz” after an interception. They are shown a series of plays, and if they select the right one, they shake off the pick, and move on. If they choose wrong, their momentum moves down, making their accuracy erratic, and their cadence subtle. When offensive linemen allow a sack, their momentum moves down, making them more vulnerable. Running backs fumbling or receivers dropping passes effects their momentum. Vice versa, if they perform well, they are on a hotstreak, and their ratings go up, and they play better with more confidence.

The same can be said for defensive players. Allowing a big play makes them play worse, but getting a big hit or a pick makes them better. It’s a very dynamic approach to confidence and momentum, that works extremely well, and you will come to rely on.

What I’ve always loved about College football are crazy plays. Those are here in full effect. You have a ton of option plays, and you can return field goals. NCAA Football 09 captures the essence of playing on Saturday. The crowd has booming cheers that effect the way the other team plays. If the crowd is crazy, nobody is certain about where they are supposed to be, or even what the play is. The toughest stadiums to play in are not friendly. After touchdowns, you can perform certain school specific celebrations. Florida will do the gator, Boston College will pretend to fly around like an eagle. This is the most authentic sports game on the market, and it’s something Tiburon should be proud of.

Campus legend mode returns, with zero changes. You can pick a player and continue their careers, or you can create a player from scratch, take him through high school, find a team that wants you and play your career. It’s a good game mode, but it could use a face lift after this long while. You still cant’ become a kicker or punter, unfortunately.

What is cool, is how momentum effects you on the field. It works just like it does in an actual game, but it’s more immersing when you are controlling just one player.

Dynasty has seen the most polish. Scouting is deeper than ever, as you schedule visits and phone calls with prospects, you can redshirt players, offer scholarships, the like. There are top 25 polls, and ESPNews from around the nation. Do your job, and the fans will praise you, don’t do your job, and you could see yourself out the door. You have the ability to take any dynasty online and compete with others, and you can finish any online dynasty offline. It will take up most of your time, and it’s shows tons of polish. It’s the next best thing to being a real coach.

NCAA Football 09 is a great game. It has tons of improvements over last year, and is a great step in an even better direction. It’s football season, and you need to get into it.

~ by smithbubbajones on July 20, 2008.

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