Thank you Boise State. If it wasn't for your Statue of Liberty play and upset of Oklahoma, I'd have to see Chris Leak on the cover of NCAA Football 08. While I can't do anything about the way my Ohio State Buckeyes played last year against Florida, I can take them to this year's National Championship game with EA's NCAA Football 08. I used to religiously pick up a copy each year but because of the small updates to each version I've been skipping every other year. EA was kind enough to send us a copy of this year's version so let's take a look at what's new for NCAA Football 08.
Presentation wise, EA has done a few things to spice up the menus and what you can do to customize your menu. NCAA Football 08 now gives you more control over highlights and the ability to showcase them on the game and on the web. You can save a five videos and ten pictures of your favorite moments of any game. Choose your view of where you want the video to be played from and watch it on the big screen in a rotunda as you are navigating through the menus. I do think that the camera options for replays are a little limited and I would've rather had a free floating camera and the ability to place it where I want to during certain parts of the replay. If you really want to show off to the world, you can even upload them to http://easportsworld.com. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to utilize this feature as there's been issues with the Madden and NCAA Football sections of the website. Let's hope they can sort this out quickly but it's been a three weeks since I got the game and it hasn't been up the entire time. I really like the social aspect EA has added to the game and once the website is fixed, I can show the video of a big play to all my friends rather than describing what happened.
The ESPN branding is everywhere you turn. For the page on happenings such as Top 25, Heisman race, or headlines of other games you'll see it all wrapped around ESPN's style. You have the same three team doing the play by play with Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, and Brad Nessler who are all ESPN personalities. Like the NBA game of a year ago, you'll get updates from the happenings from real sports via an automatic download of the ESPN sports update. If you are playing during some other action going like say a few baseball games, you'll get live updates on anything newsworthy. None of this happens in game though as these updates only come to you when you are browsing the menus.
The game plays close to last years with some improvements. Passing does seem a little harder this year as I've experienced more picks than usual. I can't be as reckless in my passing this year which I like. Conversely, the improved passing defense has led to my guys returning a lot more interceptions for a touchdown. One of my first few games, I ran back three picks for a touchdown which is something that didn't happen too often in previous versions. But, I am more cautious in trying to thread the needle and throw into certain types of coverages now so that's good. The way defenders get in front of the ball seems a little unnatural though as they do a super quick slide sometimes to get into position for the interception. There will be times you think your receiver has a step on the defender only to see a superhuman move to knock the ball out of the way or take it from you. In that sense, it's something I'm not too high on but the better defense on better teams is easily noticeable as you won't be able to thread passes in as much.
For those that only want to concentrate on one part of the game, you can opt to simulate the offense, defense, or each play. I really like this feature when I want to get some quick games in and want to practice on a certain aspect of the game. You can also interrupt a sim if you think the computer is doing horrible and you want to take over. It doesn't take too long to finish a few games now and it's nice to get a a couple games in in a relatively short amount of time if you are in a hurry.
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