Publisher: EA SPORTS™
Developer: EA Tiburon
N Amer - 07/17/2007
NCAA Football 08 Review
Is it just me or are the years going by faster and faster? It seems like only yesterday that college football ended, but here we are again, a new season getting ready to play and a new NCAA game released as well. Last year was the first year that NCAA was released on next-generation consoles, and while it was a good game, there are many features that this game was lacking, especially when you compared it to the “current” generation systems at the time. This year EA has fixed that little problem and now we gamers are given the full taste of their latest college football game.
There are several modes that will keep players occupied with this game for a long time. First off there is the practice mode where you can hone your skills with various plays. Then there are three mini-games to play. The first one you can play is called bowling, players start at the 10-yard line and try to make a touchdown. If you get it on your first try it is a strike, or your second time it is a spare. The frame is open until you finish your second try. Next up is tug of war, where two teams start at the 50-yard line and alternate plays until one team scores. Finally there is the option dash, in which you are given two minutes to go down the field as many times as possible. These mini-games really help give the game a really unique and fun twist and a nice change of pace.
If you want something with a little more meat you can go into Play Now, which allows you to play against any team in the NCAA. This mode allows you to either play versus a computer or a friend. If you don’t have a friend and you want to play against a human you can hop on to Xbox Live and play either a ranked or an unranked game. I found very few problems with playing online and rarely ran into any lag.
Hook em Horns!
The real meat in this game is the Campus Legend and Dynasty Mode. In Dynasty mode players try to become a national powerhouse and try to get into and win the championship year after year. Players are in charge of everything from the recruiting, the rosters, and many other things. This year there are several new options while recruiting that makes it more challenging and fulfilling. First off you can now track all of your prospects throughout the United States on a stat-by-state basis. You can make promises to prospects to gain an upper hand in ensuring they will sign letters of intent to play for you. You can rank prospects by the level of interest you have in them, and many other options. This mode will keep you entertained for many hours just trying to obtain the perfect team.
Campus Legend allows you to either edit an existing person or create your own character and see if you have what it takes to leave your mark on the college gridiron. You begin this mode by selecting your character and customizing everything from their appearance, position to play, to where they went to High School. I created my own personal character from Texas and was surprised to see even my personal High School listed in the ones to choose from. From that point you then get thrown into the high school state championship playoffs. After completing them, depending on how you did you will get to choose which college to go to.
When you get into college you will then get used to student life, which means going to practice to ensure you stay No. 1 on the depth charts, to doing extra activities. Most of these actives are nothing but stat increasing so that is good, such as going to work out, or going to a pep rally. When you go into a game, you will notice that you can only control your player. The coach will call the plays, and it is your job to execute them with perfection. When you are not on the field the game will go into Super Sim mode; which means that the game will simulate everything except when it is your time to play. This mode is extremely fun to play, the only down side to it is that it is extremely easy to make your character into a legend, especially with all of the extra stat boosts you receive.
One annoyance that I found with this game is the amount of fumbles you will see during a game. I played the game on every difficulty level, and it seemed like there was always several fumbles during the game. Many times it was a double fumble, meaning that my star running back/receiver would fumble the ball, the defense would pick it up, run two yards and fumble it, then my offense picks it back up. This happened more often than not during the course of this game. I know that fumbling happens quite frequently in football, but at times it really gets ridiculous.
The AI for this game is also not too intelligent, especially during Campus Legend mode. It is the most evident during this mode, since you can’t call your own plays, only the coach does. Many times they will pick plays that baffle your mind, defense is anticipating the run, and have already stopped exact same play twice, so you assume the coach will pick a pass play or even a different route for a running play, but in his infinite wisdom he picks the same play for the third time. You will want to scream at the TV, especially since I was playing the position of quarterback and there was nothing I can do for the play except hand the ball off and pray they get to the first down. It is calls like this that will have you most frustrated with the game.
One of the biggest changes to this game is one of the first things that players will see: the menu home screen. The background to this screen is now located in your school’s trophy room. In there you will see trophy cases, school banners, and best of all video screens. When you play a game and do a wonderful play, you can save the highlights and when you are in this room they will display on the screen. Also there are various photos that are taken during the game you can save as well and they will be displayed here. This is a wonderful addition and it makes the game feel way more personalized and always keeps you pumped up to try to get better highlight screens, and a way to remember some of the best games you have played. As you get more in-depth in this game you will fill up this trophy room with various trophies, awards, and things that will commemorate some of the best games you have played. Plus it can always be used for bragging rights against your friends.
The graphics for this game are good, but not great. To begin with, the stadiums look extremely like the real-life counterparts, which is always a good time. The player models look really realistic on the field and this in part due to more body types that there are to choose from, especially when you are making your own player. This is also enhanced by new and more animations for each of the players, but the animations also lead into one of the major issues I have with this game. There are some bad clipping issues that can be seen all over in this game. While there are some clipping issues to be found in almost any game, at times the clipping is very noticeable and at times can be an issue because it can lead to big plays for the player.
Another issue I have with the game is the camera angles. This is especially noticeable when you are looking at game highlights or snap shots. The game always seems to destroy an awesome-looking highlight or snapshot due to the poor angles that it chooses to take the picture. While a work around for the highlight is viewing from another camera (which sometimes works, but does not provide as cool of a real), the photos are only taken from one angle. I had more ruined photos due to a lineman’s arm in the way then I care to recall.
One last complaint I have is a small but noticeable one. The atmosphere while playing this game feels way off. Unlike other games in the series I can’t recall ever seeing the mascots, band members, cheerleaders, or referees on the sidelines. The stadiums don’t have crazy fans with signs or other noticeable traits of a college football game. This is a real disappointment as I really enjoy all of the ambient features of playing and being at college football games.
The sound for this game is good. First off the commentary given by Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Brad Nessler never fails to impress. What I really enjoyed is that the commentary was more serious than last year’s game, but still retains the edgy and goofiness that these three commentators are known for. The crowd noise is decent and the fight songs are spot on, but like I mentioned earlier the real college atmosphere is really lacking in this year’s version of NCAA football.
NCAA Football 2008 is rated E for Everyone. If you want to use your memory card it will take up 12 MB. The game also supports multiplayer (online or off) for two players.
Review Scoring Details for NCAA Football 2008
Even with some faults, NCAA Football 2008 is a complete blast to play. I really like the new menu home screen for this game as it makes you want to get even better so you can fill up your room. Even some of the changes on the field make the game more seamless and allows you to remain in the action without distractions. Also a high frame rate that never seemed to falter makes this game even better to play. The only downfall is the stupid AI, why continuously call plays that never work.
The graphics for this game are really nicely done. The stadiums are all nicely done and look like their real-life counterparts. What I liked is the new animations that make this game smoother while playing. The only bad thing is that while there are new animations there is still some clipping issues that pop up occasionally.
The commentary given by Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, and Brad Nessler sound good, and doesn’t get to old or repetitive in this game. What I felt was missing was more crowd interaction, as this made it feel less like a college football game. I want to hear more variety then just the fight song, with different crowd noise filled with thousands of shouting fans.
Like all sports games, this game has adjusting difficulty so you can play at a level that you are comfortable with before you move up a bracket and face tougher opponents.
The new additions to this game really improve the overall feel of it. The addition of the Weather Channel feed, which provides real weather information when you play, makes this game all the more realistic. Having the ability to create your own highlight real and photos is a real treat, especially for bragging rights to your friends. The new menu home screen is also leaps and bounds better than previous versions.
Xbox Live is one of the best online gaming services out there for a gaming console. It is so easy to set up a game and get right down to the “nitty-gritty” of playing against another person. It is a shame that there are any more modes available to play though, instead we are left with the standard ranked and unranked matches.
EA has made some strides over last year’s college football game, and the main reason why is that they finally included all of the features from previous console generations game. The brand new features included in this year’s version is very nice, I really enjoyed the new presentation for the entire game. If you are hankering for some college football action then you can’t go wrong with NCAA Football 2008. See you on the field.