Review by osubuckeyes
"Is this game truly worth $50?"
You bet it is! EA Sports has done it again, with another impressive edition of NCAA Football. I didn't think there was much room to improve on last year's fantastic installment, but I was proven wrong!
Not much has changed in this category, but then again, not much change was needed! The players on the field look a bit better, and EA did a great job with the stadiums, especially the domes, which can be tough. Great graphics as usual.
This is where EA really blew me away. This year's gameplay is better than ever in every aspect. The new "Big Hits" feature allows players to steamroll the opposing ballcarrier by pressing the L2 button right before contact is made. It's rather hard to time it up, but it pays off when you can get it right. Also, the match-up stick is another useful feature that EA has thrown into the mix. Before the snap, you can hold the right analog stick to the left to go into a coaches' cam view and see your receivers composure rating compared to the opposing defensive back's composure rating. If the DB is rattled, throw it to the receiver he is covering and 9 times out of 10, you will complete the pass. This adds a great amount of realism to the game. When I looked at other reviews before buying this game, and saw the new Homefield Advantage feature, I knew that EA had really outdone themselves. If you're playing as a team with a low composure rating, playing at a big school, such as Tennessee or Ohio State, don't expect to see many good things coming your way. Before the snap, on defense, continuously tap the L2 button to pump up the home crowd and try to rattle the other team. If you can fill the in-game meter, the opposing team's play will be affected dramatically.
Now, I've heard people complaining about the passing game being too hard. Well, I like it just the way it is! EA has made passing the football more realistic by adding....yes, that's right, more difficulty! In last year's game, I remember torching USC's defense for 600 yards while playing as Hawaii. Not gonna happen in this year's game! The receivers do tend to drop a large amount of passes, but if you catch it yourself, dropping the pass is less likely to happen. If you do manage to catch a pass yourself, a rewarding message will pop up on the screen saying "User Catch!". Same thing happens with user interceptions, and so on. Seeing that pop up on the TV screen sure makes me feel rewarded after intercepting a pass by myself.
However, the running game is exactly the opposite. Running the football is easy as ever in NCAA 2005, but it makes up for the difficult passing and gives you realistic stats, so it's all good with me.
The first game mode is Play Now. This allows players to set up a quick game, being any team you wish, against the CPU or a friend. This is great for practicing against teams you are about to face in a big game in dynasty mode, which is the next Game Mode.
Ahh, Dynasty Mode. The single most important mode in the NCAA Football games. Pick a team, any team and set out on a 50 year journey building up a weak program, or continuing the dominating tradition of a winning school. If you don't meet the schools goals, you're fired! However, if you do well, expect to be offered a contract extension as well as some offers from other schools come season's end. You can select you non-conference schedule, but if you want to have a high strength of schedule, represented by a letter grade, don't schedule too many cupcakes! You can also explore the Sports Illustrated magazine, with the Top 25 Polls, Heisman Watch, All-Americans, Conference Standings, Players of the Week, and much more. SI was a great feature in last year's game and I'm glad to see it back in '05. You can also win the Heisman Trophy, Coach of the Year, and every other award and keep it in your Trophy Room, as well as look at them any time you want. And of course we can't forget recruiting! Probably the most important part of Dynasty Mode, recruiting allows you to try and lure the top prospects to your school. Blue Chip prospects are harder to land, but are the best players in the nation. You can also switch players' positions at the end of the year, so if you think your halfback would make a better fullback, go for it! Players also transfer from your school if they don't get enough playing time, or if they don't like the way the program is being handled. That's realism right there. Even more realistic is the player discipline feature. If your team has a low discipline level, expect your players to commit various NCAA rules violations. If you don't suspend them for the recommended amount of games, the NCAA will gain interest in your school (this is represented by an NCAA Interest meter) and eventually put you on probation, causing you to lose scholarships, disallowing you to play in BCS Bowls, etc.
Online play allows you to play other gamers across the state, or across the country! I don't play online, so I don't know much about it, but watch out for those cheesers! Cheesers are players who "cheat" so they can easily win games.
Finally, EA has brought back the College Classics mode, while adding a few new ones to the mix. In this game mode, you repeat history in 20 of the most memorable games of all time, and earn a pennant allowing you to play as those teams in Play Now mode.
I was very disappointed when playing a game when I heard Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Brad Nessler saying the same things as they did in last year's game. EA did add a few new lines, but there is room for improvement as far as commentary goes. However, the in-game noises, the crowd, and the fight songs somewhat make up for the commentary, but the audio is still a bit disappointing.
Replay Value: 9/10
With so many new things to do, and dynasty mode alone, this game is very addictive. This game is well worth the money.
Rent or Buy: Buy
NCAA Football 2005 is definitely a buy. If you're still not sure, rent it first, but you will be blown away. As said before, this game is well worth the $50!
Well, there it is! I hope this helped you and that you enjoyed reading it. Go Ohio State Buckeyes!!!
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/31/04
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