One of my major complaints of the Xbox version of NCAA Football 2003
was that the Y button called the right most play and the B button took you back a step in the play calling screen. Thankfully, EA fixed this and it’s now correct with the B button calling the right most play and the Y button going back. Another great control change is the left trigger now delivers a stiff arm instead of lateraling the ball. Being that I’d do a lot more stiff arming than tossing the ball, I’m glad that EA switched the buttons handling the functions. The fact that the sprint button is still switched between offense and defense remains a little annoying though.
The graphics doesn’t have any major upgrades to it from what I could see. Although the players do look like they have a minor improvement in shape, it could also be my imagination. More animations do make the players look more realistic though. New animations include different tackles, receivers turning their heads to look for the ball, and defenders shoving players out of bounds. Introductions have been improved for a few teams. Ohio State players run out of the tunnel now just like in real life. If you’re a Notre Dame fan, you’ll see them smack that famous, "Play like a champion today" sign before they hit the field. Slow downs don’t seem to happen as frequently this year. On the Xbox version, I only really saw slow downs during the entrances of the players. Other than that, even with all the player animations during the action, the game ran pretty smooth throughout.
A great deal of new plays has been added to the playbook giving you more to operate with. No playmaker feature yet but there are a number of trick plays added that should add some excitement to the game.
For offense, the passing game seems to have upped in difficulty with receivers having a lot more dropped passes this time around. I didn’t experience nearly this many dropped passes in the last version and while I did want more I think NCAA Football 2004
has too many. The defensive backs seem to have better hands when the picks are difficult. If you try and pass like you did in the previous version, you’ll find the opposition with the ball a lot more. Many of the passing plays that produced in the previous version is now defended a lot better. And if you’re foolish enough to loft it into coverage you can bet it’s going to be picked off. In the previous version, I was never afraid to throw it on the run into some traffic. Now, it usually results in an interception so throwing it away is a lot more important in this year’s version.
On the flip side, I seem to be getting a lot more sacks with my outside linebackers than in the previous version. In turn I seem to also be sacked more because of the quickness the outside linebackers get to me now. You really don’t have the luxury of sitting back in the pocket as long this time around. With the quick convergence of the outside linebackers, you’ll have to learn to read the coverage quicker and make smart passes. In last year’s version when I forced a fumble on a quarterback sack, the game never registered it as a sack. I’m glad to say that it is now fixed so you are credited with the sack when you force a fumble.
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