NCAA Football 09 Preview (Xbox 360)

EA Sports football fans have their first pieces of information to rejoice over, with online dynasties and other new features announced this week for NCAA Football 09.

Right now we do not know much about online dynasties. How many players can be involved? Exactly how it will work? Will we see 8 players allowed to compete? 16? 32? 118?

My best guess is that the number will be lower, but won't be so low as to make people wonder why EA bothered, of course that seems to be a trend with EA Football at times.

However, if the game is still very laggy they are wasting their time on a feature that won't be used as much as it could. The simple fact is lag problems MUST be fixed before we see this work. The jury is still out on this feature for sure, but it is definitely long overdue.

Dynamic Crowds + College Atmosphere

The other feature which I am excited for is the dynamic crowds and just how EA approaches the college atmosphere. If my hypothesis is correct, we may see different sizes of crowds return for this edition of NCAA.

This is huge for me as it is a feature I have dearly missed, building a team with an empty stadium into a team with a ton of fan support. We saw this in March Madness so I'd say we'd definitely have a shot to see it in NCAA Football finally.

The sidelines will also have additional players, mascots, cheerleaders, etc. This is only going to help make the game come alive. New player models and 50 alternate uniforms are making a return.

To round out improvements to the atmosphere there will be user customizable stadium sounds and music as well as better crowd reactions built into the game. This whole focus on the atmosphere is just huge in my opinion.

Home Field Advantage

Back this year is Home-field advantage (HFA). Some people hated the feature the first time around but I was and still am firmly a fan of the feature. The simple fact is, it is very tough to win on the road in FBS College Football and sometimes, crazy things can and will happen.

I don't think Bob Stoops could reach for the reset button when his team was just flat out getting beat by what some NCAA players would've said was a cheating opponent in Texas Tech this past season. The Sooners were on a roll at the time but the starting QB gets knocked out and the rest is just downhill from there. It happens and I think NCAA should reflect how tough it is to play on the road.

Sometimes you should just meet a team that is going to play above and beyond what they normally should, especially when they are at home, and you will have to respond by playing better or losing. So here is to hoping that HFA does reflect this aspect of the college game.

Wide Open College Gameplay

  Another aspect of this game that has me quite intrigued is the new break-away animations system and the wide open college gameplay. Quite frankly, fans were expecting a wide-open, anything can happen on any given Saturday type of experience with the original next-gen version of NCAA Football. Now finally we may be getting just that.

I'm really excited to see EA Tiburon's new take on tackling, as it seems we have been getting the same scripted system since the turn of the millennium.

Of course, that is not the only aspect of the new system. Doing different moves and putting them together for sick combinations is another one of the focuses of the break-away animations. Doing different moves with guys like the video of Darren McFadden released earlier is just going to make for a wide open experience.

I think that this will lead to the game becoming more oriented towards the guys that are really good on the stick and playing manually. I really think that some will hate this aspect of the game when it is released as well, but it will at least feel different which is what the series needs.

Gameplay Tweaks

Other basic gameplay tweaks include the ability to return missed field goals. I'm not sure how much you will see it, but I do think that it is an important feature to have since it is a part of the college game, although a rare part.

Also we will see formation audibles and smart routes. Both of which are sure to be huge changes in how the game plays. Bobble catches (and hopefully big hits while someone is bobbling) and better passing controls will also be making an appearance in the game.

Also, another tidbit on the feature list is post play continuation. What does this really entail exactly? If I had to take a quick jab at it I would say that the action would keep going after the play is finished so there will be more dead ball penalties and such. In the end, it's a small touch that makes the environment just come alive.


Bye-bye Roster Crooks, Co-Op, Much More

NCAA Football 09 First Look EA has also finally ended the roster business for good with their new online roster file sharing feature. So the days of roster editor A vs. roster editor B are firmly behind us I hope. Either way, anyone that pays for rosters now will just be prime example for Darwin's theory.

EA is also going to make recruiting a bit more accessible and easy to do. I don't know if difficulty was the problem so much as just plain accessibility, but either way it will be a welcome sight. Most people thought that it needed to be more accessible so this should be warmly received.

Also, we are finally going to see some focus on the post game presentation which could include better celebrations, etc. Also, it looks like we will get some more improvements to the play by play commentary as well.

And for those of you that missed Co-op play, you can now play with 4 of your friends against the computer AI or you could just watch the computer play against itself. For head to head offline players, there will now be a bluff mode for your play art to confuse your opponents.

And finally, worth mentioning is that PS3 users will get a smooth 60 FPS finally.

In the end, some will be under-whelmed by the changes and some will really like them. I was initially under-whelmed by the first list of features, but now that we've gotten an even bigger glance it seems like EA really has addressed my big issues with the game and has changed how it plays just enough to possibly make it play a much different brand of football.

The jury is still out on NCAA Football 09, although there is definitely a sense of optimism.

What are your most anticipated features?

NCAA Football 09 Videos
Member Comments
# 1 Scott @ 04/04/08 04:22 PM
Good article...
# 2 SageInfinite @ 04/04/08 04:29 PM
Good read. I definitely enjoyed your take on the features list.
# 3 mdgoalie37 @ 04/04/08 04:42 PM
I just hope they don't overdo the dynamic attendance thing - there should never be empty seats at Notre Dame, Penn State, the Big House, etc. regardless of record.

I like the roster sharing thing,that will be nice.
# 4 Hey_Rebby @ 04/04/08 04:49 PM
I'm hoping OS Sports or another member of the sports gaming media will ask these producers to describe their reaction to people that say all EA Sports does is recycle features that used to be in the older games. I would love to seem them answer that. The majority of the "new features" listed should have been in the game last year.
# 5 RaychelSnr @ 04/04/08 05:39 PM
Originally Posted by mdgoalie37
I just hope they don't overdo the dynamic attendance thing - there should never be empty seats at Notre Dame, Penn State, the Big House, etc. regardless of record.

I like the roster sharing thing,that will be nice.
I would bet that it will be tied to prestige with 5 and 6 star type of teams being perennially full in terms of attendance. You never really saw Michigan go below 5 stars in previous games so I'd bet that's how its done as long as that's what they mean by dynamic crowds
# 6 DLaren @ 04/04/08 05:39 PM
What are your most anticipated features?
My most anticipated features have yet to be announced (create-a-team, slide protection, formation-subs, ect), but on that list I'm mostly looking forward to the revamped college atmosphere.

What I'm most concerned about is the new, "wide open" gameplay.
"Bigger holes, cutback lanes, and open receivers, making the game feel more wide open than ever before."

I'm all for opening the game up a bit, but I hope this new focus doesn't make it impossible to play solid defense if you have the appropriate personel.

In NCAA'08 I was able to lead the nation in defense in my first few years while playing with Stanford (that shouldn't happen), so I can see why there might be a need to make the offenses more potent. But if I build a program with studs on defense, I'm hoping that having a top-level defense is still attainable.
# 7 Hammerhunker @ 04/04/08 05:47 PM
Not bad. I am wondering if there will be more camera angles available? I too hope for the return of create a school.
# 8 countryboy @ 04/04/08 06:12 PM
Nice article. I am looking forward to this game.
# 9 Wjkporter @ 04/04/08 07:43 PM
I hoping to hear Team sliders,Better Playbooks...
# 10 MSchneider84 @ 04/04/08 08:34 PM
Hopefully formation subs make it into the game.
# 11 janglar @ 04/04/08 09:00 PM
I hope for formation subs and player package subs. Another one I would like to see someday is the ability to have available duplicate number sets on your team. EA includes only a small handful of only well known stars on good teams to have duplicates, but when you try top update other players on that team or any other team you can only use one number per team. As a safeguard to the purists of the rules (Including me as a 25 year season ticket holder and Ath Dept volunteer), the A.I. will never allow 2 of the same numbers on the field during a substitution sub-menu with a warning prompt. With that safeguard A.I. in place, I see no reason why every team shouldn't be able to have multiple sets of duplicate numbers that coincide with a growing trend in today's college football. The crowd's need to be dynamic, because there is no way FIU's 1/8 full stadium during a 4th quarter blowout in real life is full and rocking during a similair senario in the game and is somehow magically the same as Oregon's Autzen Stadium which is always sold-out and full to the end while being ear-splitting during timeouts and warmups.
# 12 Kramer5150 @ 04/04/08 11:02 PM
Originally Posted by grunt
Hope we can here more on the game play improvements vs features.
My thoughts exactly.
# 13 DubTrey1 @ 04/05/08 12:27 AM
The roster sharing feature is an obvious awesome inclusion this year, and I hope the gameplay tweaks you outlined in the article are executed to the fullest potential this year and we do not have to wait for iteration after iteration of this franchise until they finally get it right....
# 14 Sausage @ 04/05/08 01:27 AM
I just want everything to work without a gamebreaking hitch. I want to feel like I am the coach, player, and fan watching on TV. No more stupid scoreboard animations for first downs, injuries, and that weak crap from 08. Man, I feel like its gonna be one of those wait until Ncaa 2010 type years.

I don't trust these developers; they seem to get what we want even though it took 3 years, but not know how to incorporate there ideas correctly. I believe Tiburon peaked on NCAA 2006/07 last gen (xbox, ps2, gc). Good luck to all of us, before another good football game comes out I may be to old to handle the controller.
# 15 SteelerSpartan @ 04/05/08 10:32 AM
EA has done Burned me with 07 and 08......and if 09 isn't significantly better and I mean significantly.....then I'll just give up on these games until maybe the next wave of consoles rolls around.

I mean outside of the obvious stuff that people have complained about(Refs,Nets,Chain Gangs, Create a School..ect..ect.)

EA still has to deliver a technically sound game for me....I mean seriously I don't even think they had testers for 07 or 08...it was that bad.

Things like your depth chart getting reset every time you edit a player is completely inexcusable and is a F****** joke that they are allowed to ship the game with stuff like this.

Whats worse is it seems like I never see anyone from the gaming media calling them out for that crap at community day events or play sessions. I know its not their job to fully test EA's stuff but I think with these games being as bad as they have been....have to be scrutinized more and fans should know more about these flaws before hand
# 16 rudyjuly2 @ 04/05/08 10:45 AM
I've got a good feeling about this year's game. The wide open feeling is a welcome addition for me. I like the big score mentality of the PS2 versions over the lack of big plays in the PS3 version last year. Hopefully the game gets sped up a bit although I doubt it due to framerate issues.
# 17 grubby @ 04/09/08 08:47 PM
I can't wait for this game to hit the shelves.
# 18 Tyrant8RDFL @ 04/14/08 11:40 AM
What I really want is smooth gameplay and animations. I want them to look real when they run, catch , throw and hit, and not like gorillas. When they went next gen they lost alot of the smooth gameplay they had with the older engine. I hope they can regain that.

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