If it’s in the game…

Here’s a look at what I wrote for Fort Bragg Life about NCAA Football 2009.

Yeah, they paid me for this…

It’s a right of passage.
Every summer, it arrives, bringing with it the hopes and dreams of a legion of devoted fans.
Some years, it’s everything people could want. Some years, it leaves them cold, wondering what went wrong.
Of course, for some people, the annual release of the latest title in the EA Sports’ NCAA Football series begs only one question:
When’s Madden coming out.
If you don’t want to wait for Aug. 12 for your pigskin fix, NCAA Football 2009 is in stores now.
Hopefully, by the time this hits the press, EA will have come out with a patch addressing the roster issue. Apparently, when you try to rename your players (NCAA rules prohibit the use of college players’ names in games), the game freezes.
Not cool. But let’s hope the patch fixes that.
The game itself is not all that different from the 2007 version on the PS3. (Note: The Wii version is dramatically different, as it is much less of a simulation and more of a fun, arcade-like experience.)
The dynasty mode, long a staple of this series, is back and deeper than ever. You can take LSU and try to win another national title or you can try to raise Duke from the depths of mediocrity.
And, in this year’s entry, you can play dynasties online with up to 12 people.
It’s a good thing that wasn’t possible back when I was in college. I may never have graduated.
Let’s break it down:
Graphics: 9 — The stadiums are spot on and the uniforms are detailed. I could quibble about some of the crowd and sideline animations, but those aren’t really why you buy a game like this.
Presentation: 8 — There are a lot of bells and whistles in this title, which makes getting around a bit of a challenge.
Sound: 7 — This would be a 10 if the game’s soundtrack didn’t bleed over the stadium sounds. Ditch the theme music, EA. The true gift of an artist is knowing when to put down the brush.
Gameplay: 9 — I haven’t yet mastered the new cutting and juking system for running plays, but it gives the game a good feel. The controls, while complex, are very responsive. I think it would be better if there was a way to tone it down some for younger players.
Shelf life: 9 — You can take one team and play for decades, you can bounce around like Bobby Petrino, you could become a campus legend or you can kill time with some side games. There’s a lot going on here.
Overall: 8 — I think this series is long overdue for one year of no significant changes. Just take what the game does well, fine tune it, test it so we won’t need a patch right out of the box and put out a great product
It’s close, but this isn’t it.

Now, it’s worth noting that this game is a little tougher than I’m used to. I played a season with Idaho, probably the worst team in the game, and finished 7-6 with a win in the New Mexico Bowl.

Full disclosure – I played it on the Varsity level…

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