Review by Elendil1514

Reviewed: 07/25/03 | Updated: 07/25/03

Your 2004 football fix has arrived

Every year in July, football starved gamers are faced with a dilemma, buy NCAA football or wait for Madden. This year I think football fans and other gamers owe it to themselves to take the fifty dollar plunge on NCAA Football 2004. Once again, EA has really captured the atmosphere for college football and translated it into a game that both sticks to EA's tried and true presentation of video football and adds new innovations over previous versions.

Graphics: 8.5/10
The graphics have been updated somewhat from last year and several new touches have been added such as teams coming out of the tunnel before a game and new sideline catch animations for the receivers.

Gameplay/Controls: 9.5/10
EA has developed a great gameplay system for football and NCAA 2004 makes it even better in several departments. Then updated the control scheme by adding pressure sensitivity to your juke buttons, a new lateral button, and improved defensive back AI for a more realistic pass/run balance on offense.

Sound: 8/10
The sound is a mixed bag. Each team has their school's fight songs and real life cheers from the crowd during home games which is a nice touch, and you have not played football until you hear the crowd chant OVERRATED as you beat a superior team at home. The downside is the commentary is mostly carried over from last year with a few new lines, but you will still want to invest in earplugs or turn off Corso, Nessler, and Herbstreit by your second or third game.

New Features: 8/10
New to this year's offering are great games scenarios, improved dynasty modes, an expanded set of unlockable reward pennants, EA Sports Bios, and online mode that allows gamers to chat and play games online. Dynasties have been significantly upgraded with their 50 year durations (!!) and several tweaks in the player recruiting and coaching departments. The pennant system has also been expanded with more pennants and special pennants that can only be unlocked by beating the new Great Games scenarios or achieving progressively higher levels in your EA Sports Bio. The EA Bio is and interesting addition that rewards you for big in-game accomplishments (conference and national championships), logging game time, and playing other EA 2004 games. It's a shrewd marketing ploy and a nice fringe benefit to gamers who buy or rent multiple EA games each year. However, the most anticipated feature added for this year is online mode. I have personally been eagerly anticipating getting online with NCAA football this year and it did not disappoint. EA has added an online fair play system for both NCAA and Madden 2004 that prevents several popular forms of cheating used during Madden 2003 including: using cheat devices such as the Gameshark, avoiding losses by pulling the plug on your connection during a game, and keeping detailed stats on each player including disconnect percentage to more easily identify cheaters. This really adds to the online experience and encourages gamers to take advantage of EA's free online service.

Lasting Value: 10/10
What can you say. From the 300+ unlockable pennants to online play mode to 50 year long dynasty mode, this game has tons to do to keep you busy until 2005 and beyond

Overall: 9/10
This is an excellent addition to the NCAA football series and I highly recommend it for casual fans and rabid football fans alike. There's something for every football fan and you won't find a deeper sports game around.

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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