Review by College Dropout
"Finally! Additions that add realism, not gimmicks."
EA Sports knows that there is a very large group of people that will buy their products no matter what, year in and year out. No matter the reviews, the additions to the games (or lack thereof), or the overall change in quality of the game. They COULD sit idly by and rest on their laurels for a few years, but they don't. Every year, in both Madden and NCAA Football, their are additions to the game. Sometimes big, sometimes small, there are always additions. And theses additions are what keeps the game fresh, and often what the fans rate the game on compared to previous additions. This year in NCAA Football, the feature changes are noticeable and aesthetically pleasing as always, but the gameplay changes are a bit more subtle and satisfying then previous games. This is arguably the greatest football game I've ever played, easily topping NCAA Football 2004 AND my expectations.
First, the easily noticeable changes in the gameplay. My favorite is the pre-snap match up stick. By simply pressing the Right Analog stick left, right, or down, you can see how your WR's stack up against you opponents DB's, how the line's fare against each other, and how the linebackers and backfield compare. You can do this on both offense and defense. Not only does this feature show how the players compare ratings wise, but always how they match up in terms of composure. If a player is fully composed and is going up against a completely shook player, expect big things to happen. This feature is great, although slightly gimmicky, and really adds a bit of reality to the game.
Another feature is the Home Field Advantage aspect of the game. In previous versions of the game, home field advantage was basically nothing at all. You just recognized the stadium. Not this year. This year, you can pump up the crowd on defense by rappidly pressing the L2 button before the snap. If you are one of the Top 25 Toughest Places To Play, the screen will start shaking for the offense, and audibles will be impossible to call. Awesome feature.
Onto the real meat of the gameplay. My favorite part of this game is the improved difficulty in the passing game. No longer can you just toss up the ball when the receiver's just slightly open and get a huge gain. You have to really read the defense pre and post snap, have your feet set when you pass, lead your receiver, and ACTUALLY CONTROL YOUR RECEIVER WHILE CATCHING THE BALL. This makes the game much more realistic, and in my opinion, the best passing football game ever.
The running game is as reliable as ever. EA Sports is known for having the best running gameplay in sports video games, and this year, it's no different. This year it's slightly improved with more life-life motions and animations. You actually feel like your controlling a human runner and not a stiff board that lacks agility. Great running game.
Game Modes: 9.5
Game modes come in an abundance in this game. The standards are here and are as top quality as you have come to expect from NCAA Football 2005. 'Play Now' is the same as it always has been. Quickly set up a game and get right into the action. This year, if you're playing as one of the teams that are designated as one of the 'Top 25 Toughest Places to Play' they give you a description of the stadium. Nice. They also do this for Rivalries, which is even better, as it gives the series history as well as a paragraph on the two teams.
'Play Online' is obviously a big feature. But as most NCAA veterans know, the actual online play doesn't match the hype or match it's possibilities. Although you do play some straight up games, the majority of the people you play are classified as 'cheesers'. They used cheap gameplay tactics that aren't normal to the football world to win easily. Drains all the fun out of playing. Other then that, they do keep nice stats for your online career, and playing friends from across the country is always great.
'Dynasty'. The single greatest word in sports video games. With this game mode, you pick a team, and enter 30 Seasons of playing, recruiting, training, disciplining, and reading. This feature is a much more extensive version of the pro version of NCAA, Madden. You play through your designated schedule (there are rotating conference schedules this year, and you can adjust your non-conference schedule), check the BCS and other Sports Illustrated articles, and play your bowl game. You have to discipline players you break NCAA rules, which is a new feature this year. But, as always, the off-season takes the cake in Dynasty this year. Now you have the Budget part of the off-season. This is where you have to designate how much of your budget goes to recruiting, how much goes to training, and how much goes to discipline. ANOTHER new feature is that besides early entries and seniors leaving for the pro-draft, you can lose players by way of transfer to other schools. Realism. Got to love it. Finally, you get to the beefed up recruiting. This year, it's a lot more realistic and much harder. There are less Blue Chip Prospects and they're spread out over more teams. You also have to scout players separately from just recruiting them. This makes use of recruiting points much more difficult. There's also an added emphasis on recruiting in your state. Finally, the last new feature of Dynasty is the ability to change your players current position. You have a linebacker that'd make a killer d-lineman? Switch positions. A backup QB that'd make a star WR? Switch positions. Great feature.
'College Classics' allows you to play through previous classic college games, and relive the last moments that made them so memorable. By completing each of the Classics, you get pennants for your collection. The pennants work a lot like 'Madden Cards' in the pro game. They are gimmicks that allow you to do crazy things in-game, and boost up your teams ratings for single games.
It's hard to improve on near-perfection, but EA did it, again. The players are crisp, moreso then last year, the weather affects are more evident, and the fields are gorgeous. One of the best looking in-game football games I've played. The menu's are also improved from last years, and they're adorned in your favorite teams colors. Nice.
The commentary is great...for 2004. It's almost exactly the same, which isn't that big of a problem because last years' commentary was great. Still, it makes the game a little repetitive for long-term NCAA Football fans like me. Still the onfield sounds, the improved crowd noise, and the Marching Bands make up for the commentary's faults.
Create-a-sign, create-a-team, create-a-playbook, create-a-player, active fan models, graded player ratings, being able to edit your rosters. This game has everything you could want as an extra in a football game.
College Football breeds replayability. With 120 teams to play with and against, and each capable of going through a 30 season Dynasty, this game could last until NCAA Football 2010. Not to mention collecting all of the Pennants, completing all of the College Classics, and stomping on those pesky cheesers online. This game is made for replayability.
Buy or Not: BUY
I've said my piece. Good luck with your dynasties, and GO BUCKEYES!!!!
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 07/27/04
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