Review by mrolympia

"How do you make a great game even better, play this."

Note to viewer: if you intend to get the low down on online play look elsewhere. This won't cover it, it just covers the gameplay elements and has nothing about online play in it.

Graphics 8.5

Not that the graphics aren't decent, they just haven't changed a whole lot since last year. For those of you who have yet to buy this game, just looking at various screen shots may not impress you all that much. The graphics may not have changed but but believe me, this is the biggest overhaul in the series since the 2002 year. The stadiums and crowds look a little better this year, but they crowd is still obviously 2-D. I have seen some animations where they do the ''wave'', but let's be honest......who looks at the crowd anyway during a game? The player models look smoother than last year as well. This means they look more like actual football players and less like pro bodybuilders and olympic sprinters. This is still, by far, the best looking college football game out there however.

Sound: 9
These haven't changed much either since last year, except they added more. More fight songs, a lot of different sound clips from 3 announcers you've come to know and love (or get annoyed by). When I say more, I mean a lot more.....they didn't recycle a lot from last year which is nice. Crowd chants have been added this year. If you're about to knock off a highly rated opponent the crowd will chant ''over-rated!'', stuff of this nature. The football sounds are still there from previous versions.

Gameplay: 9.5

What you did hear a lot about is the tunnel intros, the tearing down the goal posts (they took it out though, sadly), cannons, issues of SI. What you didn't hear a lot of is the game seems to be at a faster pace for one. Just about every tackle has a new animation. A more realistic feel during passing. More picks, especially for those who live to throw deep balls into double coverage. Players actually live up to their speed rating (a guy with a 95 speed rating will no longer get run down buy a linebacker with an 80 speed rating like in previous versions.....finally!). Throwing to your backs out of the back field is useful for once. 15 yard flag patterns aren't automatic anymore. This means you'll actually have to learn to read defenses this year. Even different injury animations have been added. Speaking of injuries, they happen a lot more in this game......a lot more. They occur almost at an annoying pace sometimes but just one more thing to overcome.

What else is different? Defense. They have new plays. On the play selection screen you actually get to see where the zone coverage is, which is helpful. Getting sacks is way easier. No longer can you stand in the backfield, wait 10 seconds for your wideout to get open. Try that and you'll get smeared.

What about running? For one thing, it isn't the same as last year. Last year you could just follow your fullback and cut off his block. This year it will be unsuccessful the majority of the time. You actually have to go where the play is designed to go, even if it looks like you'll get tackled for a one yard gain. Improvise and you'll get hit in the backfield unless you're using Maurice Clarett. If you do get in the open field and up to full speed, breaking tackles is a lot easier than normal. Kicking and punting are still the same.....if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Recruiting, one of the most fun parts of the game, has been revamped. First off you can see if some players are jumping early to the pros. If they are you can try and talk them out of it (it does take points though). When actually recruiting highschool/JUCO players you still have the option of sending whoever you want to visit/call them and it takes a certain number or points......much like last year. However you do have the option of using a pitch to recruit them.....such as using program prestige or the promise of playing time to lure them to your school.

The coaching contract system has been reworked too (finally). You no longer get a 3 year deal each time. If you have a good year you can sign an extension (I got to the rose bowl my first year and signed a 4 year extension). There's even a meter that tells you how good of a position you're in. If you go on a losing streak, it'll go into the D or F range (I don't know if you can get fired mid-season or not but it wouldn't surprise).

The Dynasty screen has been reworked too. You now have the copy of SI to read which has various articles such as Heisman race, top 25, conference standings, as well as the main story. You can look at old covers again but unfortunately you can't read them. There's also the pennants that give you stats boosts, and they're cheaper this year. Everything from various Nike powerups (yep, Nike is in the game) to old school teams, plus more ''all time'' teams are in here. This game, as I'm sure you know, gives you the chance to replay some of the all-time great games of college football history so go ahead and feel free to hit that trombone player one more time.


Like I said before, this is the biggest overhaul the series has gotten since it moved to the PS2. More teams, classic games, better dynasty mode, more animations, trick plays, more realistic defense, better recruiting. Basically anyone who is a college football nut, football fan, or just can't wait for madden to come out should buy this game ASAP! This is by far the best football game I've ever played.

On the + side: New animations, tons of teams, reworked recruiting, all time games mode, and a much more realistic all around game. Online play! Right now, the best football game ever invented.

on the - side: still has the 55 man roster. Passing can be tough for newbies, and even for seasoned players to get used to. Injuries happen a little too often.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/21/03, Updated 07/21/03

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