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NCAA Football 10

 

NCAA Football 10

ESRB: Everyone - E
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Sports
 
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Author:

Developer – EA Tiburon
Publisher – Electronic Arts

Features:

Players: 1-4
Co-op: 2-4
31 MB to Save Game
HDTV: 720p/1080i/1080p
Custom Soundtracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

In early June a few of us Game-Boyz staffers had a chance to demo some of EA Sports’ upcoming games at E3 in Los Angeles. Much to our surprise, unless I missed something, we did not see a single NCAA Football 10 game on display. There was no shortage of Madden 10 for all consoles on the floor; however, the NCAA game was nowhere to be found. I found this somewhat confusing as last years game was solid and garnered a lot of praise from gamers across the globe. The conspiracy theorist in me thought perhaps EA Sports was hiding something. In any event, when the game arrived at my home office I was very curious to see if any significant leaps were made from last year’s game. Well after several hours of gameplay, I have to say NCAA Football 10 is quickly becoming a must own game for football fans and Xbox 360 owners alike.

Graphics

Overall, the visuals in NCAA Football 10 for the Xbox 360 are stunning and are once again a real strong point for the franchise. The developers do a wonderful job re-creating that magical college football atmosphere that even fringe NCAA football fans, like me, can appreciate. Being Canadian, I don’t get to see too many college football games. So when I started playing my season I found it a treat to play in some of the historical college stadiums featured in the game; each which were well represented in all their glory.

In addition to the simply stunning looking stadiums, their surroundings, and the improved presentation, the most noticeable addition this year are the new player animations. Everything is so much more realistic this time around. The way players get hit, run, tackle, and catch the ball, you just never know what you are going to see from one play to the next. It makes the game less predictable and more enjoyable in the end. I really noticed the difference with the wide receivers and secondary as they appeared to move more fluidly this year. The way the wide-outs leap, make spectacular grabs, and come crashing to the grass is fantastic. Everything from the lineman jumping off side to the mini first down celebrations, NCAA 10 gives you an even closer to real life experience this year.

Unfortunately along with the good does come some bad in the graphics department. I did notice some ugly looking crowd effects at times. Most notably, when the camera pans in on the mascot, you will notice the fans lack any sort of detail and in fact they look blurry. Also, the player’s facial profiles do not look anywhere near to their real-life counterparts. Both of these issues are just slight but yet noticeable flaws. Fortunately, the gameplay itself is not hampered by any slowdown and it runs quite smoothly. Overall, NCAA 10 is certainly a visual upgrade over last year’s game.

Sound

As far as the sound is concerned, NCAA Football 10 delivers. The game's sound is an excellent complement to the fantastic graphics. Once again, the developers managed to duplicate that college football feeling to perfection. Everything from the authentic commentary from Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and sideline reporter Erin Andrews, to the each school’s marching bands; NCAA Football 10’s audio truly shines. The college football game never sounded this good as it adds a level of intensity never felt before.

My only concern with the audio is that in some instances the spectator cheering would randomly go really loud just prior to a home defensive play. It seems as though the developers wanted to re-create the effect of the home crowd going wild in an attempt to throw off the visiting offence. Yet in doing so, the crowd noise seems too loud and out of place. It was the right idea just poor execution. Otherwise, the rest of the in-game sound effects, musical soundtrack, marching bands and commentary are bang-on. Lee Corso can spew out some crazy play calling at times however this is to be expected from one of the biggest characters in college football.

Gameplay

For any of you that are unfamiliar with NCAA Football video game franchise, it is a college football video game that plays very much like EA Sports Madden Football. In fact many consider NCAA Football as an appetizer; something to satisfy one’s virtual pigskin craving before the yearly release of Madden later in the summer. NCAA Football 10 is a simulation football game of sorts aimed at your more seasoned football gaming fan. That being said, I believe that NCAA Football 10 is far from an appetizer and more of a full meal deal, rich in content with more stats, plays and news that you can shake a stick at. Bottomline, you will feel like you get your money’s worth from the moment you start navigating the games menus.

The heart of any football game is the actual gameplay itself. NCAA Football 10 plays very much the same way as last years version did with a few more bells and whistles. Madden fans who have not made the leap to NCAA Football will also be relieved to know that NCAA Football 10 plays very much the same way as Madden 09 does. For younger gamers, NCAA 10 may be a little too complex, but for fans of EA Sports football games in general NCAA 10 will most likely not even take you a quarter or two to pick up. The controls are easy to learn and it doesn’t take much to fire up a game or start a dynasty season. The dynasty season is where I spent the bulk of my time and is very similar to the dynasty modes from years past. There is no sense examining some of the features that have been around for years, so at this point I will examine some of the new features in this game.

For starters, NCAA Football 10’s big new feature is the TeamBuilder. TeamBuilder is an online feature (from your web browser on your computer) that lets you create fantasy teams, or other college teams that are not in the game. Once you have created your team you can then import them into NCAA Football 10. With TeamBuilder you can customize a plethora of features such as team colors, creating your own playbook, creating your logo, etc. This is clearly geared for the hardcore NCAA Football gamer; however I must say the feature is neat nonetheless, not to mention it gives the game a tremendous amount of replay value. One can only imagine all the work productivity lost with gamers tinkering with TeamBuilder during company hours.

Season Showdown is another new mode added this year. This mode allows you to earn credits for your favourite team by competing online vs. your Showdown opponent, against the CPU, or on web based games to determine which school is number one. More specifically, Season Showdown allows you to pick your favourite college team and as you play games you will either earn or lose points based on your performance. A nice little feature is the fact you actually lose points for running up the score. I can’t count how many times I played teams online who will stop at nothing to rack up a 50 point win. In any event, your points in Season Showdown are added to a pool of everyone else who is playing the mode and all the points are accumulated to determine the Season Showdown champion. A nice little feature indeed and yet again clearly geared for the more seasoned NCAA football gamer.

Road to Glory is a quasi new feature this year as it is essentially the equivalent of the Campus Legend mode from last year. Here TV reporter Erin Andrews and Kirk Herbstreit chronicle your college football career. A slick addition to the mode is the video package where you can view your highlights and Erin and Kirk discuss your performance. They also track your stats and there are online leaderboards. The mode also includes a dorm room which has been re-designed featuring a compelling 3D interactive environment. It is features like these which really show you how far football games have come along over the years. Road to Glory attracts not only veteran gamers but casual ones as well. It is a great refined mode to say the least.

With all the new enhancements which I discussed above, there are some minor additions which make a world of difference with this instalment in the franchise. For instance, NCAA now features ‘Set Up Plays’ which allows you to run one play in order to set up another. When picking a play you will notice that some plays have a chain link between them, which indicates that one play can set up the other. It is a very cool feature and allows for more strategic in-game planning. Again, this new feature just brings more realism to the experience. From the improved blocking, new animations, bobbling the ball while making a catch, slick tackling animations, improved camera angles, and even more adaptive AI, NCAA 10 delivers on so many levels and is truly an enjoyment this time around.


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