NCAA Football gets trumped every year by its prestigious partner, Madden NFL, so why then do people continue to spend money on the college game? Fans buy NCAA Football for no other reason than the atmosphere. No dictionary can put into words what the atmosphere of a college stadium is like: Crazy fans that haven’t slept all night, college mascots running up and down the sidelines trying to distract the opposition, and chants specific to each individual university. With that college atmosphere, and a handful of new features, NCAA Football 09 has the potential to push the limits of college football and make this year a memorable one.
Instead of focusing on the fact that this year’s edition of NCAA Football is very similar to last year, I am going to focus mainly on the new and improved aspects. The development team have finally listened to the plea of its fans and given NCAA Football the capability of having an online dynasty. They’ve done a great job organizing the 60-year online mode as well. One person will act as commissioner and send invitations to existing teams to join this 12-player online league. Seeing that this is a little different from Madden and there are hundreds of teams to choose from in the college game, the commissioner has the authority to alter the schedule so players can be challenged by a real-life opponent. NCAA Football fans have waited a long time for an online dynasty mode and this year EA has delivered in spades.
Besides the long awaited online dynasty, EA has tried to throw a few new twists into this year’s thread. For example, the phrase “icing the kicker” has become well known jargon among football players and fans, but it rarely ever works. The coach calls a timeout, the kicker gets some more encouragement, the defense sets back up, and the kicker makes the field goal. However, EA has taken that concept and blown it up, almost to the point that it’s not even fair. After a timeout is called, the camera view is changed to behind the kicker, and a layer of ice is frozen over the kick meter making it nearly impossible to score a field goal. Unlike the over-emphasized “ice” technique, EA did make some cool changes to home field advantage. The word “freshman” and “rattled QB” usually go together in college football, and you will really notice it this year. When playing in a loud stadium like “The Swamp,” you’ll find that pre-play checks of your WR routes turn from crisp yellow lines to scribbled messes and sometimes even a question mark. After your quarterback regains some confidence and settles down, the routes go back to crisp lines and you can go on destroying the defense.
Speaking of defense, you’ll come to find this year that every defensive player seems to have gum on the bottom of his shoes. They move so slowly. Once you find that gap in the defensive line, it almost always results in a touchdown. The secondary moves in slow motion as your RB sprints right past them as if they weren’t even there. And let’s just say that you happen to be in position to tackle the ball carrier, you’ll become increasingly frustrated with the number of broken tackles you see. It’s great when you have the ball and are trying to show off, but it can be hell on the defensive side of the ball.
There isn’t much different in the visual aspect of NCAA Football this year. Last year was the major overhaul in that department. Stadiums still look great and the players are exciting to watch, especially during celebrations. You can control your player to interact with mascots or you can choose a team-specific celebration. The controls are the same as in the past, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You know the old saying, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Difficulties on defense and an overpowering “icing” technique aside, NCAA Football 09 has put itself in contention for a championship season. With the addition of the online dynasty and the always-outstanding college football atmosphere, all the talent is here to make this a memorable year.