Feature Article
Weekly Hits: EA Football Edition

Do you hear that? That’s the sound of the most insanely loyal group of people there are. No, they’re not Democrats or Republicans, no they’re not Britney Spears fans; they’re football gamers. Sure, the season leading up to the release started a few weeks ago with the announcement of the cover athletes, but with the releasing of the NCAA Football 09 demo, the real fireworks have begun. But before we get into that (and don’t worry, we will), let’s start things off this week with that which has come to pass.

Prizefighter can’t pull off the golden upset

The Joystiq Metareview is in and things aren’t looking so great for 2K Sports’ venture into the boxing world. Okay, let’s be honest, receiving a thirty-three out of one hundred from 1Up is a little worse than “not looking so great.” I will say I think that’s a bit harsh (our review score thinks the same as well), sure, but it’s really an indication of how immense the expectations were for this game.

Prizefighter was touted by many as having the potential to oust Fight Night as the premier boxing simulation franchise. This very same hype is now what's working against it however.

The game definitely did things right, after all: its visual polish is undeniable, and a simple look at the screenshots will tell you that. That’s not where the problem comes into play though.

Things started with a horrible omen when news was released that rather than following in Fight Night’s footsteps and using an analog-based engine, it went with the outdated button combos. While it's debatable how well this control scheme worked, a game that can be won with button mashing (look to most fighting games where button combos are in play) is never a good sign, and a far cry from simulation. Our forums have produced further complaints, such as collision detection issues.

Now, I’m not a vindictive man, so I won’t sit here and call the game crap; it most certainly isn’t. There is a solid core here to build on. The problem is, for how heavily this game was touted, there were some developmental decisions that probably weren’t worth the risk.

Operation Sports/MaddenMania forums get exclusive insight from Madden developers

This year’s Madden title has gotten a large kick in the pants from two Madden developers, Phil Frazier and Ian Cummings. In the post, they discuss the testing of the product as well as patching. However, in a surprise move, Phil Frazier says that he hopes to include one or two features in the first patch or two, most namely an accelerated clock.

Last year was in a way, a disappointment on the Madden front for me. I won’t say the game was bad, truly, it wasn’t. The problem was in the fact that it didn’t feel nearly as polished as it had in year's past.

With the involvement of developers like the two mentioned above, not only have they brought a large quantity of insight into the development process, but they’ve also done a great job of getting everyone psyched for the product they’ll be putting out this year. They’re quite proud of the game they’re putting together and that is always a great sign.

But Madden doesn't release until August, so let's talk about the looming college football game.

NCAA Football demo makes a splash on Xbox Live/PSN

So having played through the demo, looked through most of the features and the like, what’d I think? Well first and foremost, I must say that being a Michigan Wolverines fan, the pain of actually playing as Ohio State was vastly outweighed by the 24-3 shellacking I put on LSU in the non-exploratory game. The game was close until late when I returned a fumble off a sack for a touchdown, separating myself from the opposition.

Enough rambling though, let’s get into my impressions. I will start off by saying that the game is feeling rather polished for only having a month left until release. I believe a polished demo is a good sign of how the final product will turn out.

The gameplay itself is focused and the intricacies of the pre-play controls really feel nice. At no point did I feel as though I was being led on as opposed to being in complete control of my ship. My mistakes were my own, and most of the time, they were a result of over-pursuing a ball carrier or something else along those lines.

If I must find gripes at all, I can cite two of them, neither of which were major enough to turn me away from buying the game. The first was the lighting in the pre-game. As the camera panned over the crowd, the setting sun cast a yellow/orange glow that felt a little overdone, leaving the entirety of the crowd with a slightly obnoxious yellow/orange glow.

The only other gripe, again with the crowd, was the fans themselves. While great during the game, in wide shots it seemed as though each and every fan was a block figure, reminiscent of a character from back in the PlayStation 2 days. While not unbearable, it was of course something I noticed immediately as the camera’s first action is to pan in over the crowd.

NCAA Football 09 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 texbuk84 @ 06/21/08 01:32 AM
this demo is bananassssssssss
# 2 spursfan @ 06/21/08 09:27 PM
Heck yeah. The presentation and overall feel of the game, ai and its adjustments. Get this, the ai finallly blocks somebody. It really feels like college football. I wasn't even comsidering buying ncaa, but now I may buy it on day one.

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