NCAA Football 10 Preview
Last week, I had a chance to sit down with EA Sports and view the current build of NCAA Football 10. I also got a walkthrough of some of the new aspects of the game.

Based upon the walkthrough, it seems like customization is the name of the game with NCAA Football 10. Sure, the developers also want to fix some of the issues NCAA 09 had and improve the game on the field, but the theme of customization still stuck out most to me.

Create A School

The big news is the ability to create your own custom school via a pretty nifty online application. The options available are just as powerful as anything we have seen yet for a console title, if not more so.

It appears that every aspect of your team can be altered. Of course, the standard options are available: team name, nickname, location, team colors, uniform style, helmet design etc.

But you are also able to upload a custom logo for your school, select an existing or generic stadium to be the home for your team, while also customizing the look and feel of the stadium –- choosing where logos are placed and what it says in each of the end zones.

Once you are done with aesthetics, it is time to really build your school. This means customizing a school prestige rating and detailing where your school falls in areas like "fan base" or "academics." After that, you then create your team's roster from scratch or import a team’s existing roster.

When you are done, your team can be used in online pickup games or online/offline dynasties. Created teams can also be searched and downloaded by people across the world via the 360 and PS3.

The web application is actually going to be released a month before the game ships –- allowing the community to create a portfolio of created schools that can be used as soon as the game drops.

For online dynasty aficionados, all of this means you will be able to carry over your NCAA 09 dynasties –- creating carbon copies of your existing schools right down to their prestige and rosters.

Going hand-in-hand with create a school is the continued ability to swap teams in and out of conferences.

On the Field

EA Sports have also worked hard to iron out some of the gameplay issues from last year, while also adding some new wrinkles in the process.

At first glance, the gameplay seems to be pretty similar to last year, but the new wrinkles being added give you greater control over your team on the field, providing an added level of strategy that was not there last season.

Coupled with some A.I. changes, the new features should take NCAA 10 to another level.

On the offensive side of the ball, the biggest new addition is a system that links two plays together –- with one play setting up the other. For example, if you are running a "dive" play out of the I-formation, it will link to a play action pass in the same formation. The more you run the dive, the better chance you have of fooling the defense when you finally go with the play action pass.

With that being said, EA stressed that you still need to execute the play, and building up the play as much as possible does not guarantee success or a big play.

On the defensive side of the ball, you now have the ability to key in on certain types of plays before the snap. You have four options –- pass, run left, run right or run middle.

According to EA, it is all about risk and reward. Effectively read your opponent's play and you have a chance to blow it up or stop it cold. But if you guess wrong, you are exposing yourself to trouble.

The defense this year can also "spotlight" certain players before the snap. This allows you to pay extra attention to the spotlighted player, which should give you a better chance of shutting him down. However, you also risk leaving other players unattended.

The A.I. has also been enhanced to adapt to what players are doing on the field. So if you continue to run certain plays in certain situations, the A.I. will adapt and respond.

NCAA also includes a new "game plan" feature. Essentially, you are able to tweak certain settings, and each setting has a positive and negative associated with it.

For instance, you might choose to have your defense focus on intercepting passes instead of covering the receiver. This means you might intercept more passes, but there is also a better chance that your defense will get burned down the field on a double move or miss an interception and give up a big play.

Other Tidbits

- Online dynasty will return with the same look and feel from last season. EA have also made sure to fix things that did not work last year. For instance, now you will be able to talk players into returning to your school for another season.

- Both the offensive and defensive line has been worked on this year. The result is a true-to-life pocket. While we have heard this in the past, it looked pretty impressive this year. We might finally have a game that penalizes the 15-yard drop back.

- The game will feature something akin to the old accelerated clock.

- Pursuit angles on defense have been greatly improved –- fixing a big A.I. issue last season.

- Playbooks have been completely revamped again.

- Tons of new animations have been added. You will see wide receivers slip on the wet turf, defenders try and force a fumble and players fight for the ball.

- When rushing the passer, you will now use the right stick to try and get around your blocker rather than the triggers or right/left buttons.

- QB accuracy has been adjusted to make it a bit harder to complete passes.

NCAA Football 10 Videos