A sophomore slump...
Being the huge fan of college football that I am I always hope for a good showing from EA's college football franchise. Since the games we're released on the current systems (360. PS3) I have been sorely disappointed.
When the 360 hit the market everyone wanted to see football and it was given to us in the form of Madden '06 which was basically a port of the game by the same name for the older systems. When football season rolled around again we were finally going to get to see college football on our shiny new systems.
Disappointment struck, and hard. No one who played that game can honestly say it was an improvement on previous years. Negativity flew around the country about how stripped down the game was, and rightly so. Of course like the Duke faithful say, "well there's always season." Everyone was ready for the next installment because then EA would fix every problem... right?
Unfortunately in July of 2007 NCAA Football '08 hit shelves, and contrary to the hype from EA for better everything and a completely redone campus legend mode the game did little to improve on it's predecessor. This game was met with even more criticism than the last one. Features on the old systems were left out and weren't replaced with anything substantial. How does that even happen?
Things like team celebrations, of any sort we're gone. I've never seen a whole team celebrate individually in the end zone after a touchdown at any level of football. The worst part? Someone gets injured, no celebration, no replay, nothing. Even worse than that, when you win the National Championship in 3 overtimes all you get is a little congrats from Corso and Company while your team is in the huddle and the camera swoops overhead. If I won the National Championship, there would be fans storming the Field, teammates high-fiving and hugging, the coach getting a Gatorade shower and the team getting presented with the trophy. Not just for the National Championship though, for all the games. Just something. EA needs to put in a copy of NFL 2K5 and learn how to do celebrations.
Also the exclusion of DIV. 1-AA teams is a major letdown. Everyone likes to take their alma-mater to the top of the college football world until they can come home with the national championship. Not only that, the create-a-school feature is gone, no more making your high-school's entire region and playing through your schedule, oh well, there goes several hours of play time.
The new and improved legend mode? Really if that's improved then I'm a chocolate dog. Sure you get to go to your high school and do that for a little while, but with nothing to keep you interested, especially when you have to do that super sim thing whenever your not playing, it gets boring. Then you get to college, and in previous years you actually got to navigate a dorm room adorned with your team's logos and trophies and all kinds of collegiate stuff. Not anymore, all you get is a calender and an A button. I do like that you don't come in as the starter because let's be real how often does that happen? But why when they did that, all the aesthetics come out? No more choosing drills to get better either. All you get to look at now is some weird slide menus that are annoying to use.
I know I've been beating this game into pieces but there are some good points. The new recruiting system in dynasty mode is great. I recruit 10 times better than in previous years. Some of the other dynasty stuff is nice too, the game breakdowns are nice and the ESPN.com stuff is a nice touch.Well back to bashing. The actual gameplay is smooth and easy to pick up, mastery is of course another story. The visuals are good and the stadiums look great. The uniforms are really shiny even in the rain and the y don't get dirty. At 60 Frames Per Second in it looks really nice. If the jerseys didn't look so shiny it would look like watching a game on Saturday.
What kills me with all of the current football games with the exception of All-Pro 2k8 is the play calling. Instead of pushing a button for a play on the screen you put a nice white box around the play with the A button under it and that's how you pick your play. If that's not stupid I don't know what is. Also the create-a-playbook, which is awesome for dynasty mode once you get your team balanced, is gone.
I'm sorry guys, but this just isn't going to cut it. If you want people to keep coming back you need to make a better product plain and simple. If EA didn't push so hard to get the game out before the season started they could take an extra month or so to actually improve on the past.
Concept: Capture a collegiate football atmosphere in virtual form
Graphics: Looks great, very smooth. Shiny unis can be annoying
Sound: Aside from the lagging commentary, nothing too bad
Playability: If you like football this game will come natural to you with minimal time. If you don't like football why are you playing this game?
Replay Value: 119 teams to take to the National Championship? Maybe not. (Medium)
Parting Shot: The game fails to make it into the upper echelon of games this year. The guys at EA need to look at what they did for NCAA '06 and do that again. Well we've seen the red shirt year (NCAA '07). The Sophomore Slump (NCAA '08) I'd really love to see a breakout season Junior year.