NCAA Football 10 Review

NCAA Football 10

Electronic Arts, Tiburon

July 14th 2009

Playstation 3, Xbox 360

Electronic Arts’ college football series has often been looked upon as a cash-in, or some sort of catering to those who live for Division I play. For a very long time, that was true. NCAA Football games have not been very separate from Madden NFL, which pointed out the fact that perhaps the game didn’t need to exist. Nay sayers say what you may, but NCAA Football 10 differentiates itself so magnificently from any other football game on the market and makes it an absolute must buy for any hardcore sports gamer.

There is a healthy amount of new content in this year’s edition of the everlasting football game. Some of these aren’t so hot, whereas others are welcome new additions, and others are just downright badass.

Starting off with what will make fans so happy this year is EA’s focus on school spirit, with the new feature called Season Showdown. What this essentially does is prompt you to pick one school that you’re most loyal to, and from then on everything that you do in game, whether it be an exhibition match or a dynasty game or an online matchup, you’re going to garner points for your school. For example, if somebody were to select the Texas Longhorns as their team, and then they beat Oklahoma 107 – 0, they would earn some lofty points for Texas as a whole. Over the course of the season, these points add up, and it becomes a very hectic competition between hooligans. It’s something that has been seen in some way before in other EA Sports games, but none remotely close to being this fleshed out. It’s great to see. Something else I like about this mode is how it doesn’t restrict you at all. You aren’t required to play as your team to garner points for them. That’s the kind of freedom that the mode offers the player, keeping it from becoming overwhelming as opposed to just straight up addictive.
Of course, the core gameplay itself would have to be good for this feature to be worth spending time on, and as you can tell from the tone of this review, it’s more than good enough. The improvements aren’t obvious ones. From afar, with no controller in hand, it’s tough to tell the difference between this year’s and last year’s game. However, it’s all of the subtle differences that really pile up. For instance, the amount of animations has significantly been raised, and clipping problems have nearly been erased completely. That’s not to say that you won’t run into a few glitches and problems here and there, but it is to say that the game is a whole lot smoother, realistic, and enjoyable because of this. It may not seem like much, but this is a completely different game due to the new polish the game has received.

Aside from that, the main core of the gameplay remains the same as last year. Quarterbacks are still quizzed after picks, composure is still important, and the game has a great sense of speed, something that separates it from Madden like no other.

Dynasty Mode remains the same for the most part, with only incremental upgrades to the formula. The menus no longer lag, which really helps the recruiting process. There are deeper goals and contract options as the coach, but aside from that there’s really nothing new. It’s still the best part of the whole experience, one that will eat up all your time. The introduction of Online for this mode last season is still something that amazes me. Being able to have an online dynasty with 11 friends is just great.

Road to Glory is just a fancy term for Campus Legend. Even so, the addition of Erin Andrews to the repetitious formula is completely welcome. EA has added Erin Andrews to host a fictional highlight show that follows your superstar upon his career, and it seems rather authentic for something that sounds like it’s simply just tacked on. It doesn’t really better or lessen the Campus Legend experience, but it does make it feel a little bit newer, which if probably a plus. The highlights are all great selections of your greatest moments, and the ability to save and upload them is great as well. There are some other new presentational upgrades in Road to Glory, such as more expansive sim options, which makes those tedious waits just breeze by much easier than ever before. Another change is the reintroduction of the room as the main hub for your star’s career. It doesn’t change much, but it feels more authentic and grounds you in the experience a bit more.
Possibly the best new addition is TeamBuilder. From a PC on EA’s website, you can create a team’s every last detail, from their roster to their logo to their sock colour. You can then download that team from your console and use them in exhibition or in dynasty. So, if you want to recreate Harvard as a Div I team, you now have that opportunity. You also have the option to download other teams people have created. There are some great ones already up. The USC 2005 Trojans and the Montana Grizzlies are standouts among the pack.

This does unfortunately lead to NCAA 10’s biggest problem. You are allowed only 12 slots for teams, and after that, you can purchase new ones. That’s not the only thing you can buy. You have the ability to purchase school upgrades for Dynasty, or a 5 star caliber for RTG. What’s the point of all this? It just seems like a chance for EA to grab some more money, and it’s rather insulting to be prompted to purchase these useless, menial items. It feels as if parts to the game are missing, and you have the choice to buy it for 99 cents. It’s ridiculously unnecessary.

Something that NCAA 10 does extremely well is maintaining an incredible sense of school pride and atmosphere. There are over 100 authenticated stadiums in the game, each includes school specific cheers and mascots. As always, away teams with poor composure heading into a 6 star team’s turf will have its effect on them. Receivers will drop balls, defenders won’t know their assignments, and quarterbacks will make boneheaded throws. It really drives home the fact that this is college football and not professional. The sound design mixed with the fantastic visual aspects makes NCAA 10 a serious viscerally good sports game.
NCAA Football 10 is pretty freaking awesome. It feels much more different than Madden this time around, with a great theme and focus on school spirit and crazy trick plays. If you are into sports games annually, there’s literally no reason you won’t have a good time with NCAA Football 10.

8.1 out of 10

~ by smithbubbajones on August 4, 2009.

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