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Video Game Review: ‘NCAA Football 10’ is Best Sports Game of 2009

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CHICAGO – I didn’t think that I could possibly be more amped up for the start of the college football season. And then I played “NCAA Football 10,” a fantastic sports game that comes closer than any title before at recreating the excitement of any given Saturday and serves as the perfect build-up to the actual season to come.

HollywoodChicago.com Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0

The real-life college football of the last few years has been as dramatically rich and full of twists and turns as any Hollywood sports movie production (only with decidedly less Dennis Quaid). Last season produced more upsets and new #1 teams than anyone could have predicted. How do you bring that kind of excitement to a video game? Is it possible to take a medium that uses a controller and make it feel uncontrolled, spontaneous, and enjoyable? “NCAA Football 10” proves that the answer is yes.

NCAA Football 10
NCAA Football 10
Photo credit: Electronic Arts Inc.

Building impressively on an already-acclaimed foundation, “NCAA Football 10” is the most addictive sports game of 2009 to date. Nearly seamless in its presentation and incredibly customizable in every player’s individual experience, “NCAA Football 10” can be something different for everyone.

If you’re looking for a great “pick up and play” title, something you can grab with a roommate or friend and play for 20-30 minutes before you go out on a Saturday night, you’ll be most concerned with the game presentation and control. There’s nothing too unfamiliar to anyone who’s played a sports game here. Each of the school stadiums, mascots, and even cheerleaders for 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools have been lovingly recreated, and the offensive and defensive controls are either going to be something you know from years of “Madden” (or previous incarnations of this franchise) or something you can learn pretty quickly.

NCAA Football 10
NCAA Football 10
Photo credit: Electronic Arts Inc.

Visually, the game is far smoother than most football games. The player models are just so-so, but the animations flow beautifully and feel much more natural than a lot of football gaming experiences. Gone are the miraculous leaps or spins where your runner becomes a Marvel superhero and gone are the catches where it feels like your opponent’s WR has a magnet on their hands and his QB is throwing metal.

And yet, “NCAA Football 10” finds ways to make riveting, exciting games without the ridiculous, unexplainable catches or miraculous runs. It’s in both the design of the actual games and in the player input. You’ll do a lot more than just call plays. You’ll have to plan a general game strategy (aggressive, balanced, etc.), set up plays (running one play will make another easier for the defense to fall for the next), chew clock, and even deal with adaptive A.I. throughout. Don’t be expecting to be able to run it up the middle over and over again. Trust me, your A.I. opponent will get wise.

The atmosphere of the college game experience has been meticulously recreated with an incredible attention to detail. ESPN reporters Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Erin Andrews pop up regularly throughout the game and their banter and reporting is usually well-produced and interesting. Some of the timing of Corso’s comments seem a bit off (more than once, I heard him proclaim that if my team kept running excellent plays like that “they wouldn’t even see a third down all day” AFTER a third down play), but it’s a minor complaint.

Honestly, the only complaints about “NCAA Football 10” are minor. There are the aforementioned so-so player models, and sometimes my characters would get excited about making a big play but were a bit ignorant of the actual on-field situation. In other words, no QB is going to fist-pump for his 8-yard throw if he needed 9 yards to get in the end zone on the last play of the game (something that literally happened to me… one yard shy of the win.) But every complaint about “NCAA Football 10” is far outweighed by what the title does right.

NCAA Football 10
NCAA Football 10
Photo credit: Electronic Arts Inc.

NCAA Football 10” truly shines when you look deeper than the basic game experience and enjoy all the various modes that the title has to offer, including “Season Showdown,” “TeamBuilder,” the “Dynasty” modes, and the great “Road to Glory”.

In “Season Showdown,” the player earns credits for his favorite team by competing online, against the CPU, or on web-based games to get his team to number one.

“TeamBuilder” allows you to create your own team through an ultra-deep web-based school editor, creating your own details like logos, stadiums, helmets, jerseys, and pants. And then your team can compete in both the “Play Now” and “Dynasty” modes.

“Dynasty” is pretty self-explanatory. Take a school to glory over multiple years either offline or online with 60 years of continuous play that includes competitive recruiting, redshirts, stats, NCAA news, custom schedules, and more.

NCAA Football 10
NCAA Football 10
Photo credit: Electronic Arts Inc.

Finally, there’s “Road to Glory,” where you adopt an individual player and try to take your team to the Championship Game and beyond. It’s a brilliant, player-based experience in what is mostly a team game. If you decide to be a QB, you’ll only be involved in your plays and decisions from high school through scholarship offers and your college career. It’s such a deep simulation that whether or not you choose to go to the gym or the library on a Monday night will affect your online version (skip the gym too often and you may not have the GPA to stay on the team).

“Road to Glory” also perfectly recreates the occasional frustration of playing football. Marching your team down the field and getting the winning score with only a minute left, only to watch your defense give up a big pass with only seconds to go will have you looking for a “yell at your defense” button. Having players and decisions that you can’t control merged with your own gameplay makes for a fascinating and unbelievably enjoyable experience, even when you lose to Florida every year. And Erin Andrews actually appears in video segments to report on your player highlights on the road to glory. Very cool.

Will the pure adrenalin of actual college football ever be captured with a controller in your hand? Of course, it can’t be completely, but “NCAA Football 10” arguably comes closer than any title to date.

NCAA Football 10’ was released by Electronic Arts Inc. and developed by EA Tiburon. It is rated E (Everyone). The version reviewed was for the PS3 but the title is also available for the Xbox 360, PS2, and PSP. It was released on July 14th, 2009.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

strategy games's picture

Awesome!!

Awesome!! I love to play NCAA Football 10, especially because of its cool graphics and quality of game.

Anonymous's picture

Marvelous! Football is an

Marvelous! Football is an excellent game,i love it.. And ‘NCAA Football 10’ is Best Sports Game of 2009 and playing it in video game is a awesome feeling…

Tower defense's picture

Nice game! This is one of

Nice game! This is one of the favorite game of my game collection. The special thing of this game is to make strategy before taking any action.

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