Review by coldmine
"You can tell that EA is putting all the money into Madden..."
Oh, what has happened to EA's college football franchise? I remember getting much enjoyment out of NCAA 2002 and 2003. It seems that ever since NCAA Football 2003, EA has offered less and less over the previous game. NCAA 2005 is no exception. With no noticeable improvement in graphics, sound, or gameplay, 2005 is a frustrating instance of EA "mailing it in" for college football. As I state in the tagline, Madden is the recipient of all of EA/Tiburon's development time.
The graphics are not bad, but there is no advancement of the graphics over last year's game. There's nothing outstanding about them, especially compared to ESPN NFL 2k5.
The game sounds exactly the same as last year's game as well. The same play-by-play commentary for three games running is pretty annoying.
Here is where any videogame is made or broken. And in my opinion, this game is broken in the gameplay dept:
In this years game, it is more difficult to pass the ball. There's nothing wrong with that in and of itself, but it is very frustrating to find that out patterns and curl routes are next to useless. And the drops! Oh my, I cannot remember a game where receivers drop so many balls! And a neato feature EA added for this year is the SuperBall (TM). The football turns into a SuperBall whenever your receiver gets hit and can't hold onto the football. The ball will rocket 10-20 feet in the air, allowing the defense an easy shot at a pick. At first I thought SuperBall was pretty cool, but now it's just annoying. Balls don't go 20 ft into the air every four pass attempts!
OTOH, the running game is improved. So bottom line on offense is passing game bad, running game good.
Defense is why I cannot tolerate NCAA anymore. There is just no user control in this area. For some lame reason, the switch player button now changes you to the next best player, not necessarily the closest player to the ball. So I just end up not switching most of the time, its a lot less confusing. And the defensive AI has improved in some ways, and failed in others. The pass coverage defense AI has gone up noticeably, making the offense work harder to complete passes. But that illusion is shattered once the ball is thrown. Especially on deep routes, the CPU controlled DBs will literally stand there and watch the receiver catch the ball. And user controlled pass defense is extremely awkward, to say the least. And on option plays, the defense will refuse to keep outside containment. Big, big problem.
Homefield Advantage doesn't seem like anything more than a gimmick. It adds nothing meaningful to my gameplay experience.
That's a short list of what wrong with the gameplay...
The game menus look different...but other than that, the presentation of the game is pretty poor.
The most popular feature of the NCAA series is probably the Dynasty Mode. I can't really give it a rating, since I do not play Dynasty. Even if I found it to be good or bad, my impression of the game will be formed by what happens on the field, not off.
In all, I give this game a 5 for average. For me, NCAA 2005 is a letdown. I love college football and I used to love this series, but it's painfully obvious that EA is putting no effort into this franchise anymore. Madden gets the gameplay improvements and graphics updates, while NCAA gets treated like the crap you find on the bottom of your shoe. It really does deserve a lot better. Here's a note to Sega Sports: if you can make a halfway decent college football game to compete with the EA monopoly, I know you can win over a lot of fans tired of the same old. You can count me as one of those.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 07/30/04
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