Review by Psycho Penguin
"I demand to know why anyone actually bought this game."
''What the hell did you rent this crap out for?!?'' - My friend, with a terrified look on his face, when I showed him I rented out a 989 Sports game.
I'm a huge college football fan, so I expect a lot from a game when I decide to devote 5 days and 6 dollars to it. Yes, I rented NCAA Gamebreaker 2004, becoming one of the 13 unfortunate souls that have actually played this game. I'm still trying to apologize to myself for making such a mistake. I know for a fact I could have very easily committed suicide if I devoted any more time to this turd. Want to know why it only has one other review, doesn't sell for crap, and has no message boards?
Because it completely and utterly sucks the fun right out of the college football experience.
Seriously, Sony's only accomplishment is that they made college football unfun. Maybe they should run the BCS so it will fufill its goal of ruining the sport. I have never seen a wackier game than this one. Quarterbacks will scramble for 15 yards every time. Now your 5'3 kicker from the local gas station in Missouri can outrush Michigan's defensive line! Wide receivers can run any route they want to, and you'll still be able to throw them the ball on target. Remember in Gameday 2002 where you could use the same play every time? You think Sony would have fixed that, but no sir, not here.
That's really the only reason I hate Gamebreaker 2004, but it's a big one. The entire game becomes a joke because of the shoddy AI and the fact you can run the same play every time. The game decides to become NFL Blitz at times, as bizarre plays will happen randomly from time to time for no real reason. The defenses react poorly to anything you decide to do. I see no reason to recommend even playing this game because of all these faults. Oh, but it gets even worse.
You can choose to go through your typical season mode, but guess what, the simulation is so lousy, you'll soon wonder what the hell is going on. I went undefeated, outscoring my opponents by 30 points a game, and I finished FIFTH. Two spots behind a team with ONE LOSS. Who lost to a team I beat by twenty four on the road. And it's not like I was a non-BCS team, either. I was Maryland. (And to prevent the joke ahead of time, Maryland went to a BCS game in 2001.)
That's not the only problem with the simulation. Some of the simulated scores I had were just crazy. I remember one particular game, where TCU beat Tulsa 83-61. I didn't know I had rented NCAA Final Four 2004 (or whatever lousy college basketball game Sony decided to make this year), I thought this was a football game. Of course, with the way the AI works in this game, 83-61 shootouts can happen, but you know, it's JUST NOT REALISTIC. I hate 989 Sports for doing this to me.
You get your usual modes and crap that every other football game ever made (most which happen to be better, coincidentally enough) provide already. The only addition is online play, but NCAA Football 2004 has that, and has the USB Headset as well. If you want to buy this game, go online, and be embarassed when there's like 13 people in there wondering why they didn't buy the other football game, just remember, I WARNED YOU.
The controls are not too bad. You get the basic moves to perform during a game, including a nice spin move and the jump. The options are easy to run, and it's simple enough to pass. You won't find many problems with the controls, except for the fact that sometimes I end up throwing the ball to the X receiver right away, due to the somewhat weird passer controls. Once I got used to that, however, I really had no problems.
And yes, the game does look good, before I get all the emails from rabid Gamebreaker fans who are all 'Do you see the player animations?'' Yes, I see the player animations. They are pretty decent. You won't see any of those graphical issues that plagued former 989 ''efforts''. Breakup is never really present, not even in long passing plays where everyone gangs up on the ball. Phantom catches and running directly through tackles have gone the way of the dodo bird, as well. The stadiums look great, especially when it starts to rain out, and the menus are designed somewhat decently, as well.
I'm not even going to bother telling you about the music, because there's not much. I know the game has some decent school fight songs, that play during menus and stuff, and those were done pretty well. Of course, NCAA Football 2004 also features these, as well. The sound effects are pretty decent, you get your usual robust variety of hard hitting crushes and tackles, as well as the players yelling from the sidelines. Nothing new here.
The commentary is done by the effective team of Keith Jackson (who retired about two years ago, but still happens to be around for some reason..) and Tim Brant. While they are not the most effective commentary team in the world, they definitely manage to get the job done. Their voices are easy to listen to, and they may even manage to provide valuable insight if you're lucky enough. I like how the game doesn't repeat the same lines over and over again, as well. That issue has plagued a former Gamebreaker game, so I'm glad it was taken care of for this one.
Let's see... would you want to play a game that has great AI, tons of deep modes, lots of replay value, three of the best college football anaylsts in the world, fun games, and a realistic season mode? If you would, then don't bother with Gamebreaker 2004. I rented it out, and couldn't even stand it by the 2nd day. The game is decent at first, until you start to notice all the flaws in the AI. You will not want to play this game at all, especially once you see how much better NCAA is compared to this one.
There's three levels of challenge, but it's not like you can really tell a difference. The only difference between the easiest and hardest modes are how much turnovers you have. It's still easy as hell to run the same play over and over, even in Heisman-level action. The option play will almost always work, especially if you're a team like Nebraska. Hell, if you use Nebraska, and actually lose a game in this one, I feel bad for you. This game is pathetically easy thanks to the shoddy AI.
989 Sports continues to try to set a record for most consecutive sports games without a single good one. The last decent game I played from them was NFL Gameday 2001, and it's been all downhill since then. They show no willingness to improve at all with NCAA Gamebreaker 2004. They really need to take some time out to improve the AI, instead of just offering lesser versions of everything the competitors do, only with worse AI. Improve like the Michigan program does. They had an off year, and now they're good again. It's not hard. Just work on improving the series. Hell, never mind, I got a better idea.
989 Sports... go the hell away already. Stop making these crappy games and let EA have all the money, because they actually know what they're doing.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 09/29/03
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