NCAA Football 08

Review

posted 9/26/2007 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
One Page Platforms: 360
The AI still does some really stupid thing though. I've experienced a lot of plays with the opposition down by a score or two in the final few minutes and seeing the QB passing to a wide receiver quickly only to have the player run out of bounds for a loss on the play. The computer still doesn't have a good handle on the urgency of the game when time's running out and they are only down by a score or two.

Campus Legend finally comes to the Xbox 360 as the feature was omitted from last year's version. In the same vein as MLB 07 The Show, you get to create a player and try to take them through four years of college and become a legendary player. First of fall, you start out in the high school playoffs and try to take your team to the state championships. As you go through each game you'll be viewed by scouts from various schools. When you are eliminated or win the championship, you'll get offered a scholarship from various schools with your position on the depth chart displayed.  You'll go through each day going to class, practicing, and attending an evening event. If you are not the starter during practice, the amount of points you need to earn to move up on the depth chart will be displayed. You get 10 reps to show off your stuff and various acts will earn you X number of points. For example, a QB can earn eight points for throwing a TD , 2 points for throwing for a first down, and 3 points for running for a first down. If you are the started you use the practice sessions to stay sharp and show your coach you should still be a starter.

Besides practices, you can increase or decrease your character's attributes. Each day will also hold an evening event and some events will give you the option of one of three choices. One choice might make you more popular but will cost you in strength and agility. You have to work these trade-offs throughout the season to minimize any negative scenarios and increase your player's abilities at a good rate. After you become a starter though, you can pretty much stop practicing and have it be simulated. I went through a whole season after being named the starter for game 2 and never participated in a practice again.

What I like about game days in Campus Legend mode is that you only have to play the plays you are in. So if you are a QB, you can skip all the defense plays and just participate in the offense. For the times when I can only get a quick game in this is a good way to go. You won't have to sit through anything that you don't have control over.

The game does look pretty good and there are some nice little touches I like. For instance, when a player breaks away he'll sneak a peak around him to see if anyone's coming up on him. The gang tackling doesn't look too bad as well with some very impressive hits motion captured into the game. There were a few tackles that were cringe worthy especially if you use the hit stick to take it to the player. The players come in all sorts of shape and sizes and move well on the field. There's still the occurrences of clipping between models happening more often then it should these days and considering how long the game's been using a 3D engine the programmers still don't have that fixed. Something that was a minor annoyance with the graphics is that the players on the sideline are all the same. They looked like a bunch of clones out there so a little variety would've been nice.

Something new to the series is real time weather effects. The game will go out and get the current weather at the stadium and mimic the same weather in the game. It's not the first game to have this feature but it's a nice little feature to have. If it's down pouring at the place you're playing, expect it in the game as well. The weather can affect the way you play as I tend to run the ball more with windy or bad conditions.

With the power of the 360, I still experience some stuttering and slow downs. I would really experience these between plays and when animations of statistical items were displayed. Sometimes a panning of the playing field would also produce a stuttering of the graphics. Luckily I didn't experience any problems during gameplay so at least that's not affected. While it doesn't affect gameplay, the stuttering is noticeable enough to be a bit annoying.

I'm still disappointed in the lack of an online dynasty mode when other games have online leagues in place for a few years now. It's just the same basic online head to head mode for NCAA Football 08 so here's an area that EA keeps lagging behind in. Other things missing include create a school and creating a playbook. While I can understand the create a school feature being dropped, the playbook feature should've been left in. I know more than a few folks that like to customize a playbook to suite their style of play.

I also ran into a few share of bugs as well. I had lockups happen while the game was doing a pan around the stadium during the beginning of the game. Another bug I ran into was during a call of an audible, the players would move into position but I was never able to hike the ball. The game clock kept counting down so the game wasn't locked up and the only course of action was to call a timeout. Luckily, it happened in the first half and the timeout used wasn't crucial.

For this year's version of NCAA Football 08, EA has included some features that they shouldn't have omitted from last year's version. The graphics haven't taken a great leap but it's been polished up a little more. The campus legend mode isn't to bad and I do enjoy that you can participate on only defense or offense if you so desire. Once the video sharing works, I'll definitely be taking advantage of it and I hope more games from EA down the line feature a more robust editing and sharing capabilities.


B
It's an improvement over last year's version but there were things missing in last year's version that should've been in there. Nevertheless, NCAA Football 08 offers some good college football action.


Page 2 of 2