IGN Review of NCAA Football 10
As we kickoff the month of August the college football season is just around the corner. As they do every year, EA Sports has inundated just about every system – less the Wii – with a new version of NCAA Football. Thankfully for all those PS2 owners EA Sports has blessed the aging system with what will (possibly) be the final version to grace the hardware. If that is the case, it'll be a fine send off.
There's no question that fewer development resources were pushed to the PS2 version, so the amount of new features is expectedly limited when compared to what's on Xbox 360 and PS3. That withstanding, you will find a slightly trimmed down version of Road to Glory, the mode where you craft an incoming freshman, run through a series of specialized drills, and then build him up into the campus legend that we all wish we were in our college days. In addition, there's also Dynasty, online play, Mascot Mashup, and other areas to invest your time.
Road to Glory begins with drills rather than the high school playoffs as on other systems. The drills you run through are dependent on your position for the most part. After you're done earning a solid stable of attribute points, it's time to pick from a list of schools that offer you a scholarship. The balancing issue that I had with the drills in the PSP version isn't present in the PS2 version. I had no problem completing every activity and ranking as both a five-star quarterback and five-star defensive end, despite a few missteps in the early goings as a QB.
Once you've selected a school it's time to decide on a major, hit the books and make your way to the practice field to improve your player. I have issues with every aspect that I just mentioned. For starters, your major. You select from easy, medium and hard subjects to study. They range from college football knowledge to actual majors like mathematics and world geography. Why things like "ESPN" are included on the list doesn't make much sense, but it is a videogame so I guess it gets a pass in that regard.
When you have an evening event you're presented with a list of activity options. You can either hit the books in the library, meet with a tutor, meet with one of your coaches or engage in an "evening social gathering" (party your face off). When you attend to your studies you're typically given a practice exam to take and it has questions that match your field. It's a pseudo-mini-game of sorts but it's more an annoyance than anything else. Practicing also makes very little sense. As a quarterback I was penalized points for a running play that went awry. As a defensive back, putting pressure on the quarterback didn't amount to a damn thing if he made a solid pass. Why are my coaches not giving me individual credit for a job well done?
Thankfully things get a bit better once Saturday rolls around and it's time for a real game. An Erin Andrews image pops up on the pause menu and relays several goals for you to accomplish. Doing so will net you needed attribute points that you can then use to bump up your player's skills as you see fit. The goals adjust depending on past performances and what team you're playing. I'm glad it's not just static requirements, but I do wish that attribute bonuses were also assigned more organically through play on the field.
Once you build up your collegiate stud, you'll start to earn trophies that go in your dorm room and you'll earn notoriety around campus. None of that stuff is very substantive to the overall experience, but it's cool to see nonetheless.
Dynasty Mode is also back this year and is exactly the same as you remember. You pick your school, run through summer drills to improve certain players, redshirt whomever you like, do some pre-season recruiting, and then get the action underway. The design is identical to past years, thankfully it wasn't lacking in any one area so it's as good as ever.
Once you step onto the field things are just as familiar as you'd expect. You'll notice things like a momentum meter and stadium pulse as well as cool impact moments where the camera swoops in on the action at a pivotal moment. Everything is very tight as far as gameplay is concerned. The stupid passing mechanic that hampered things on the PSP isn't present here. Instead, you'll find traditional gameplay elements in every staple of the sport. It might be light on frills, but it's not light on quality.
Visually things have also remained relatively unchanged from the past couple of years. The edges of players are jaggy but do feature some nice details on musculature and their animations are solid. They move fluidly and have the requisite number of juke moves in their arsenal, even though that list hasn't evolved much over the years. The only real issue I had with the visuals is that the framerate has a tendency to chug when the action gets too heated.
On the audio side things are – surprise, surprise – the same as you remember. Thankfully the commentary doesn't have to deal with the load times of a UMD so the dialogue moves at a quick pace with the action. There were a few instances when I could barely hear one of the guys in the booth, but it wasn't a bug that popped up very often. The stadiums are powered by solid crowd noise and school songs, both of which are accentuated by the stadium pulse meter when things really get pumping.
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