"This game makes 2004 as obsolete as a computer from a few months ago!"

I don't have a subscription to a magazine like OPM or Game Informer. I got home from vacation on July 7th, and I thought: It's NCAA Football time. I looked at Gamefaqs and found all about the new features. I had $120 saved up in my Slim Jim can ready to be spent. All I needed now was a release date. I woke up on the 13th of July pondering whether I'd get my copy. My area isn't as video game mad as some other places, so i figured I'd find it pretty easily. I did, and saw that Larry Fitzgerald was the cover athlete. being from Pittsburgh and a PITT fan, I was overjoyed. I took it home, and played it for numerous hours. My jaw dropped. I was playing the best Sports game of the 2004 calendar year,(Meh, I'm not all Madden crazy. I'd rather watch some warm hearted kids play for the pride of their school, not playing for those millions of dollars they refused to play without) easily overshadowing MVP Baseball 2004. Enough with the back story that you probably don't care about. It's time to get Serious.

I loved NCAA 2004. I played it to death. There were things missing. Some small(player position changes) Some big(rotating schedules) but EA managed to cram most of the items on every players list into this game, in only 2 gigs.(What? I don't Pirate) No game can be perfect. To cram every minuscule detail would take more than the time they have, since as we all know, time is the one thing everybody has, but nobody has enough of it(unless your some Internet geek who posts voluntary reviews for a video game website...oh). However EA managed to put in lots of things loyal fans whined about into this game. Now actually onto the stuff you care about(finally)!

The game play hasn't changed much from 2004. The game runs a little slower(like madden) But is in tune with the rest of the game. Passing has gotten harder. No longer will your QB throw a perfect 15 yard spiral off his back foot. Plant you feet, son or it will be hell for you. Running has gotten a little harder, as well. There won't be as many 20+ Yard runs anymore. You can run the ball up the middle better. One thing that rocks about game play is home field advantage. In real life, if your, say Michigan, and you play at an over-filled Beaver Stadium, in front of over 100 thousand screaming Penn State fans, naturally you Players will get confused on audibles, as they cannot hear over the blasting noise, louder than a frat party. EA has taken that idea into this game. On defense, you can pump up the crowd(which has a meter for how well the fans are into the game). But the money here is that before the play, the camera shakes, your controller rumbles, it's awesome. on Offense you can quiet the crowd down to a mere whisper. What HFA does is that if it is too loud, the opposing team will not be able to hear audibles well, thus getting confused. Also, if your playing as lowly Montana, at Washington-Grizzly stadium, it just may be hard getting those 23,180 fans pumped up. Timeouts aren't just for clock stopping, anymore, with each time out(even on opposing timeouts) you can choose to increase the composure of a set of players(WR's, O-line, Backfield, D-line, LB's, and CB's/ S's). Now, one interesting feature that I haven't seen asked for(which means EA did a little over-achieving) In each game, if a player in on a roll(Like a Qb going 7-7, 120 yards, and 1 TD) In the first quarter, his overall will go up a few points, it will go down is a player has a bad game. Now, the controls have been slightly altered, plus there is a big hit's button which when used, basically pounds the player into the ground. There is also less interceptions for user controlled teams, more bobbing the ball around. after big wins, the coach gets drenched in Gatorade. Sweet, pun intended.

Commentary hasn't really changed, a new phrase here, a new phrase there, that's about it.

Graphics haven't changed much either, tackling animations have gotten much better, but no real change.

They have all 119 division 1-A Teams as well as the same 1-AA teams as last year, but they added two new conferences(the Ohio Valley is one). The only problem here is that they give some crappy teams god ratings, like Buffalo(They got some B's). You can edit 1-AA Rosters(even 1-aa east.west/south/ etc.) The all-time teams can be edited as well. Plus roster sizes are now 70 players!(Thank god)

They didn't really add any new game modes, Crate a school is the same, They did add a create-a-sign mode, which obviously allows you to create a sign that will be seen in the game. There is a create-a-play book option(not plays) Where you pick some sets and make your own play book. Create-a-player Is pretty much the same, too except that you can input a hometown for your player(They have like 50 towns/cities per state). They have included the Revo helmets that hey had in Madden 04, too. They have a mascot game, which is a cheap thrill. They have the same 20 college classics that they hav last year, too. You can play on line, and hone your skills with practice mode. Hate Miami, like Florida, rivalry game is for you, then. You win the trophy for the rivalry, too (if there is one at stake). Now, onto Dynasty mode. You can pick your team(even 1-aa teams) and edit you coach, then you try to take your team to the National Championship. They have added All-conference teams, and a new discipline feature(if your players are bad, and not punished, the NCAA steps in and takes action). You have points, and for longer suspensions require more points. A Nice addition is the top 25 toughest places to play. Each year the list is updated with the top 25 toughest places to play. I haven't gotten a crap-team on the list, but I hope to do it soon. At the end of the season, first you look at your players leaving due to ineligibility, pro draft, or transfers.(you can receive transfers, too) Then you calculate your percentages(I'll explain better). You have three categories: recruits, training, and discipline. You have to evenly distribute each category an even number of percentage points(the max in one area is 100). Recruiting has gotten harder, and they have added a new position, called ATH(athlete). This is basically like a wild card in Poker, he can be whatever psoition you want him at(Generally skilled in numerous positions). After Recruiting you switch player positions(for example an ATH to whatever psoition, a RE to LE, an SS to FS, etc. Oh yeah, TE's make great fullbacks) then you look at training progress, depth charts, and then onto next season. One bad thing is that loading has gotten longer(NCAA March Madness, anyone?).

Overall: four words: Buy. This. game. Now. That's it. The best NCAA football title ever made. Tons of new features, Home Field Advantage, many new dynasty options make this game playable past seasons end.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/20/04

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