Feature Article
OS Roundtable: NCAA Demo Impressions

With the NCAA Football 09 demo being out for nearly a week now, it was only natural that this week's Operation Sports Roundtable focuses on the question, "What are your impressions of the NCAA Football 09 demo?" Read on to find out what Operation Sports staffers thought of the demo!

Patrick Williams:
I am liking it a lot. I think the stadium looks great and the player models are pretty well done. Gameplay is fun, and offense is a blast. There are some cool new animations for tackles and big hits are exciting and violent enough for my taste. There are a few things I don't care for, like lack of stats for the game coming up and how they don't like to tell you the yard line you are on anywhere other than really small on the bottom of the play calling screen though.

Still I think it has great potential to be a fun year for this game. I am pleasantly surprised with how much fun I have had with the demo since getting back up at 5 am to get it.

Noah Weber:
So far I have been really pleased. The graphical upgrade is VERY noticeable, and it goes a long way towards creating the atmosphere that is so important for the college football experience.

I'm hesitant to make any assumptions about the gameplay, since the demo runs on Varsity. It feels slower, and the holes feel bigger, and everything feels more controlled, but those could just be the low difficulty talking.

I've definitely noticed some cool new animations on both sides of the ball, and I've made some big plays like returning a punt for a touchdown that felt really good. I also lined up a receiver going across the middle and hit sticked him right as he caught the ball. He dropped the pass, and didn't get up. Then they showed him trying to stand-up and falling over and clutching his stomach. It was probably one of the top ten most satisfying things I've done in a videogame.

Lastly, perhaps the thing that has me most excited is the new playbook additions. If you haven't noticed yet, just look at the number of Shotgun formations in LSU's playbook. Ridiculous. The new slip screens are going to be a huge weapon, and should be a lot of fun to work with as long as they don't turn out to be cheap.

Can't wait.

Ryan Spencer: Here's what I've gathered from playing several games of the PS3 version of the demo.

The Good
The stadiums and lighting look very, very good. The crowd from far away looks decent, but in cutscenes and other closeups it looks pretty ugly, but that's no big deal.

There's a good amount of new animations that really add a lot to the gameplay.

I'm not seeing as many really dumb INTs from the CPU. I've picked a couple off that were really questionable decisions, but it seems improved from last year.

The sound is quite good. Using a surround sound setup, you can hear individual fans yelling things after plays, and the crowd can get quite loud when pumped up.

The interface and overlays seem a lot snappier. I like how before each play there is a quick stat popping up out of the score bug.

I'm really digging being able to call plays by pressing a single button instead of having to do the whole "bluffing" thing where you have to highlight all the plays on the screen to fool your opponent.

There are more dropped passes and bad throws, although not quite as many as I think there should be.

The Bad
There are some annoying framerate hiccups while playing, especially noticeable on kickoffs and changes of possession.

The option is far too easy to execute for big yardage. I know the demo is on varsity level, but this concerns me because it was a problem last year as well.

Some of the tackling animations look silly and occur far too frequently, especially the ones where the ballcarrier gets knocked off his feet.

The ballcarrier running animation is jerky and doesn't look natural.

The presentation just isn't doing it for me. Yes, they added more mascot and new cheerleader cutscenes, but there just isn't enough variety.

Overall, the demo has been pretty enjoyable and I'm expecting good things from NCAA 09. Playing the final build and bumping up the difficulty level from Varsity should hopefully address some of the gameplay issues.

Richard Chavez: I have never played an NCAA Football game besides a few random demos, including last year's demo on PS3. I'm fluent in Madden so I had no problem picking it up. Problem was, I wasn't happy with the way Madden played on the next-gen systems and NCAA played like that too. In a year though, I can see a huge difference. I enjoyed it immensely and I can definitely say that they took real steps to improving the next-gen football engine.

Dave Branda:
I try to not take demos too seriously. Generally speaking what you see in the demo doesn't mean that's what the actual game is going to deliver. For instance when I played the NBA 2k8 demo my first impression was how bad the presentation was and I didn't like the feel of the game play. Then when I got the actual game, both the game play and presentation were two of its strengths.

With that said I liked what I saw so far. The stadiums are great looking. The on the field action looks to be pretty true to life. And I think I like how the playcalling screen is setup. There's also a ton of options at the users finger tips - from faking blitzes to moving players around to even faking a certain play. (We'll see if this can be abused at a later date - I can see players doing some combo of fakes that results in somebody not getting blocked).

Will Soistman:
Up to this point, I really enjoy what I see and play. You can really feel that you control your player, and even with just the left stick it feels natural. I was going to get stopped for negative yards on a rush play with LSU, all i did was instinctly move the left stick to the right, and the HB made a SICK cut. It was so awesome watching it happen.

Other positives were the fact that there was only 1 forced fumble and that was recovered by the same team and no interceptions. The completion percentage hasn't been as bad in two games for me as others have had and the routes the WR's run seem really crisp.

Overall, for a demo, it is really pleasing... Let us just hope the final product is really smooth and a good representation of college football.

Chris Sanner:
I am going to go bold and say this will be the best version of NCAA Football we have seen in quite awhile on a console.  The graphics are spot on (unlike last year, where we gave up some quality for frame rate), the gameplay seems to be improved (but as always there will be those glitches and bugs) and most of all, the game just "feels" better.  Is this going to be the best NCAA game of all time?  I would say that's going to take a lot of time to figure out.

However, based off just the demo only, this will be the best NCAA to grace a next-gen console yet.  I am concerned about a few things, namely defending the passing game.  It looks as if top-tier passing quarterbacks may be impossible to stop due to a lack of a consistent amount of pressure brought upon by the defensive line.  To me, a game between two heavyweights should not be so heavily offensive favored.

Will NCAA live up to the hype?  Perhaps it will.  Stay tuned to Operation Sports for more information on NCAA leading up to the release of NCAA Football 09 next month.

NCAA Football 09 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 TheGamingChef @ 06/25/08 12:30 PM
I agree with most of the things you guys said. This is my first itineration of next-gen NCAA Football and it's much different from what I'm used to. Not necessarily in a bad way, just different. I like how the game plays, a lot. But like many of you said, the main beef I have with the demo is presentation. College football might be the most emotional sport in the world, and the game needs to reflect that. You have to be fooled into thinking it's Saturday at the stadium every time you play a game. EA has a ways to go yet on that front.
# 2 qpc123 @ 06/25/08 01:29 PM
on Dave's comment about player movement of defense being turned into some combo of fakes that results in a unblocked player, and that being a cheap tactic. isn't that what a defense does, it fakes one look the performs another in order to hopefully get the result of an unblocked rusher?
# 3 rockchisler @ 06/25/08 02:19 PM
Curiousity question here. I have both the 360 and Ps3 and downloaded both demos. The 360 is a more complete demo then the PS3 from running animation to throwing the ball ( the ball doesnt rotate during flight on PS3 where as it does on the 360 ) Why is that one demo is more complete then the other? I guess I will be getting the 360 version this year.
# 4 texbuk84 @ 06/25/08 03:55 PM
i agree with what you guys said and i would like to know if you guys think this is going to be a great year for football.
# 5 icicle22 @ 06/25/08 05:43 PM
I have played both the PS3 and XBOX 360 demo and the 360 seems more polished and reponsive. One thing I noticed that nobody seems to have mentioned in the quick review, the CPU controlled team still seems to snap the ball way to quick as it was last year. I don't have time to audible and fake blitzes, set hot reads or even read the play. While all of these added features are great for strategy, aren't they rendered useless if you don't how enought time to use them?

Just to be clear, this happened during normal gameplay, not during a hurry-up two minute drill for the CPU.


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