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NCAA Football 09 REVIEW

NCAA Football 09 Review (Xbox 360)

With every summer comes the anticipation of sports games as gamers prepare for the new season of interactive entertainment. Soon we will be bombarded with great titles and have to make decisions on which games to pick up and which games to pass on. Now the sports gamers new year has finally arrived with the release of NCAA Football 09. The new year does not start off with a bang, but it definitely has started off with a quality title.

When playing the first thing you are going to notice is NCAA Football 09 is a visually improved game. The player models have been tweaked and improved from last year, and we also see a prettier field surface which comes much closer to resembling grass. Unfortunately, the field surface stays a little too pretty throughout the game as we don’t see any wear or tear of the grass during games. The lack of field damage is a bit disappointing since we’ve seen it in previous generation games, but overall the game does look much better in comparison to last season, especially in HD.

Some of the most hyped additions to the game have been the inclusion of cheerleaders, celebrations with mascots after touchdowns, and the ability to play as the mascots in the game. Other than celebrating with the mascot these things have all been in previous versions of the game, so welcome back, and as for the mascot games, I didn’t even know you’d been gone.

 


NCAA Football is back!

The truly big changes for this year are the changes to the gameplay and the online dynasty mode, which I will dive into more when I talk about the online portion of the game. As far as gameplay goes it still plays like NCAA Football so do not expect something completely new, it is very similar to years past, but EA has made some significant changes which definitely add more depth to the game.

One of the additions to the gameplay I am most in love with is in the passing game where you can put much more loft on the ball. I do not think love is too strong of a word in this case since so many times in past games I would want to throw the ball to a receiver but would have a pesky Linebacker in coverage between me and my man. Now you’ll be able to just put some touch on the ball and most times have success in lofting the ball over that zone defender who was standing in your way.

Another great example of a situation where you need to put touch on the ball is when you have seen defenders able to blindly raise their hands to swat down passes on fly routes or posts. You’ll now be able to put a little more air under the ball so you can have more success if your WR or TE has a man beat down field. Unfortunately sometimes bad has to accompany the good, which is the case with the lofting of the ball. Having the ability to lob the ball up also means you have more time to switch to the receiver to be able to go get the ball.

In cases against the AI this is a fantastic change as in past years I always struggled to throw deep against the AI. Online or head to head against human opponents this might create even more of an edge for the offense. Players will be able to use their big 6’5” receivers to go up and get the ball over their smaller defensive backs. I’ve found some plays to be nearly unstoppable when lofting the ball up against the AI, and online you are able to stop them, but if you’re playing against a team with very high rated receivers it will be quite the task for you. Overall I’ll definitely take the good over the bad, and the new high ark on lob passes is a great addition to the game.

 

The running game saw a serious overhaul this year. You’re really going to want to take some time to practice because it is different from past years.


Another new addition to the gameplay is the ability to dive over the top with your HB at the goal line. You will need to hold the X button down when you’re ready to dive over the top of the pile, most of the time once you get into the air you’re going to be able to successfully jump for that extra yard to put the ball into the end zone. The fact I was so successful at jumping over the top had me worried it would be a problem with the game and would be yet another huge advantage for the offense. However, after playing tons of games I am convinced EA did a good job limiting this new animation.

First off you’ll only be able to run this near the end zone, so if you’ve got 4th and 1 at midfield you are not going to get a gimme jump over the pile to pick up that yard, so it’s not something defenders will have to be worried about at midfield. Second, it’s not a gimme. I’ve made some jumps where I timed it wrong and didn’t end up going far enough to get into the end zone. I’ve also had defenders get into the backfield to stop me before I could get into the air to make that big leap for the end zone. Diving over the pile is a welcome addition to the game which is definitely going to be a weapon you’re going to want to master for your goal line sets.

The running game saw a serious overhaul this year. You’re really going to want to take some time to practice because it is different from past years. When you take the ball as a running back it’s not all about just grabbing the ball and sprinting up the middle or which ever direction which the play called you to go. Now you’re going to want to take a second when you’re handed the ball to really look at your running lanes.

Most of the time you are going to want to follow the direction you thought you were going to go when you called the play, but in this years game the cutback lanes are especially evident, so you really want to analyze where the best lane for you to run the ball is before you take off sprinting. Also sprinting through the line might not be the best option once you find the lane you want to hit. This year more than ever before it really feels as if being patient and waiting for your blocks to develop can end up paying off with big rewards. Personally I do not think the run blocking is at the level of the 2K Sports games, but it’s improving.

 


The running game has seen some big improvements this year.

Ultimately it’s still going to be very difficult to run on those monster defenses like Ohio State, but it can be done especially when you open up the running game with the pass. Playing as a lower ranked team against Ohio State I really struggled to run the ball early on in the game. After coming out in the shotgun a few times and to make them worry about my passing and the possibility of my QB scrambling for yards, I really noticed their tactics changed and it was more likely for me to start picking up some yards on the ground with my HB.

Big runs to the outside have been limited. Now you will see DE’s slide off their blocks and come out to tackle HB’s who are breaking to the outside. It’s not to say you can’t run to the outside, but you do need to be aware when you’re getting close to the DE’s. Even though your linemen are blocking them from driving into the backfield and getting to you, it doesn’t mean they’re not going to shed their blocks and bring you down when you attempt to get to the outside.

The option game has been improved all around this year. The defenses tend to play smarter at stopping the option, and there are less crazy option pitches. Unfortunately though, I tended to see AI runners go out of bounds at times when they could have continued to push forward and pick up extra yardage. It was something which I didn’t see all the time, but it did occasionally happen when they could have picked up another five to ten yards.

The passing game is easier this year, all you’ll need is your receiver to have one step on their defender and you’ll be able to hit them with a perfectly placed pass. When you are passing on anything lower than Heisman you’ll see your QB’s able to seamlessly pass on the run, hitting receivers in stride even while throwing across their body. This does lead to a big advantage for the offense in this year’s game. At the Heisman level sometimes QB’s on the run will go into an animation to plant their feet before they throw, other times their passes will be arrant. I didn’t like the fact I couldn’t get a sense for which it was going to be. However, either way you should plant your feet when you throw so if it’s a terrible pass you get what you deserve at the Heisman level.

The formation specific audibles unfortunately weren’t as I had imagined them.


On defense the zones have now become a more effective way to play defense. They have been improved from last year, but man coverage seems to have taken a hit. If you’re someone who only plays man coverage this will lead to the AI shredding you apart with their dink and dunk short passing game.

Also on defense the tacklers do tend to wrap ball carriers up more, so that is a plus. In previous years it seemed as if so many tackles were just one player running and colliding into another player. Now you’ll see more guys wrap up as they’re making a tackle.

When picking plays it will now be easier to confuse an opponent because the playbooks have the plays organized more intelligently. Plays which will look similar to defenses, will be grouped together. This will be especially helpful to people who like to run that tricky spread offense.

The formation specific audibles unfortunately weren’t as I had imagined them. Formation specific do not mean you get to choose whatever plays you want for a formation, it means it has a pre-picked run, pass, or play action pass ready for you to run out of that formation. This means you can audible into another play in the same formation that might be better against a particular defense, it’s just not going to be one which you had personally previously selected. Don’t worry though, your regular audible choices are there too, just as they’ve always been.

Something which hasn’t been touched from last year is the fact the AI really doesn’t like to throw the ball deep. If you leave a man wide open down field, they’ll hit him, and occasionally they’ll throw a post for 12 yards or so, but for the most part the AI doesn’t ever try to stretch the field and throw long. QB’s are so accurate it can become quite annoying to get nickled and dimed all the way down the field by the AI as they pick up their yards and move the ball on their short passing routes.

 


The passing game seems overpowering at times.

You can adjust the CPU QB accuracy and it does affect the completion percentage, so the sliders are something which can help with this, however there really isn’t much that can be done to make the AI throw deep other than leaving people wide open, and that is just not a solution to the problem. When you adjust the QB accuracy slider you will see more arrant, or off the mark throws, however, you will also see the ball being thrown with less speed. This makes it obvious that one way the game lowers the QB’s completion percentage is by giving the defenders more time to get there to break up the pass.

Another issue in the game is the number of interceptions. Playing on All-American there are games where you will see a high number of interceptions. Most of them seem to come from user controlled picks, so if you feel like you’re getting too many interceptions be sure not to switch defenders once the AI has thrown the ball. This can dramatically cut down on the interceptions. Playing on Heisman level does help to decrease the number of intercepted balls thrown by the AI, and you do also have the option to use the slider to lower the number of interceptions made by your defense. However, even if the slider is dropped all the way to 0 it is still possible to get in there and make the interceptions by taking over manually. Once a CB does make a play on the ball, you will frequently see him take it back for six. This speed at the CB position helps raise the overall scores in the game.

Dynasty mode and Campus Legend mode are back this year and are very similar to years past. The statistics all seemed to continue to be accurate when simming through years. There were no numbers which looked way over the top or unrealistic when advancing through future seasons of the game. For the most part major college football powers were the ones you would see in the top 25. You would see other schools break in here and there, but most frequently on a year in and year out basis you’d see the top programs of the nation staying near the top.
The custom sound track feature was something that when I first heard about I wasn’t excited, but after playing with the feature it does add a nice touch to the game.


The best way to describe the sound in NCAA Football 09 is if you have been a fan in the past, you will not be disappointed this year. The sound is pretty much the same. The fans reacts to big plays on the field and do get hyped up for big game situations.

You’ll also once again get Corso, Herbstreit, and Fowler back in the booth. This is both good and bad. Good being it is much better than what we’ve heard from EA’s other football game in the past. Bad being their commentary doesn’t seem too be much different from what we’ve heard in past years of NCAA Football. At some point EA is going to have to look at overhauling their play by play for this franchise.

On the positive, this year EA’s sound department is giving you a bonus. You’ll have the ability to create a custom soundtrack for your stadium. The custom sound track feature was something that when I first heard about I wasn’t excited, but after playing with the feature it does add a nice touch to the game. Songs can be triggered from twenty different situations which occur in the game, including: a touchdown, a sack or loss of yardage, or 3rd down just to name a few. It did add a special feeling to the game to have a song of your choice played to motivate you to pick up that big stop on 3rd down to bring out the opposing teams punter. With this feature you’ll be able to customize the soundtracks for each of the teams home games. You can even generalize it so only the music for the home team is played. I don’t recommend the latter because it’s just not cool to have your music played against you when you take your dynasty team and travel on the road.

 


NCAA Football 09 looks much prettier than its predeccesors.

If you have Xbox Live and enjoy college football then this is a must own game for you. The experience online so far has been the best I’ve had with any NCAA game. In past years NCAA’s online game didn’t feel smooth nor natural. It felt like my players were reacting a second or so after I was pushing the buttons on the controller. This year it feels much improved. It isn’t quite like sitting in the living room playing against someone on the same console, but it is the smoothest game I’ve ever experienced on EA’s servers.

Thanks to EA's new locker feature the hassle is now taken out of trying to obtain rosters online. Getting the rosters from someone's EA locker is as simple as you could possibly want it to be. You can either select a friend off your Xbox Live friends list who has uploaded their rosters, and then you simply confirm you want to download their rosters and about five seconds later they are on your console. From there you just need to load the rosters, and you are ready to play. Uploading the rosters for friends is just as easy. All you have to do is go to your locker, select the file you want to upload and seconds later you are hosting the file for all your friends.

To accompany the smoother online play and the ability to share rosters EA has given us Online Dynasty mode this year. When going into a dynasty online it is important to make sure you have a good commissioner as everything will be run through him. The commissioner will have to send out the invites to people and when doing so he will be the one to assign the team to a gamertag. The commissioner will also be the person who advances the weeks and sends notices out to the members of the dynasty via Xbox Live. It is unfortunate EA didn’t add the option to go online with a regular web based site to look at all the stats and dynasty information. However, at least with the online dynasty addition things are really heading in the right direction.

The improvements which were made do warrant a quality rating for NCAA Football 09.

The ranked games are set to All-American which means QB’s are able to throw the ball down field accurately on the run. You also will not be able to create ranked friend only matches, but there is always the option to change the difficulty and create friend invite only games in unranked games.

All in all, between the deep as always offline dynasty, the campus legend mode and the addition of online dynasty, there is enough to NCAA Football 09 to keep you playing it until next year.

Choosing a rating for this game was the hardest part of writing the review, since the game did see some big changes. However, at the same time some things which should have been addressed (like the AI not throwing the ball deep) were still in the game at release. The improvements which were made do warrant a quality rating for NCAA Football 09. Ultimately, it’s your opinion which matters most about the game, so if you are any kind of sports fan at least rent the game if you are on the fence. Personally, this game is definitely worth the $60 purchase price.

 


NCAA Football 09 Score
New Online Dynasty.
The ability to loft passes.
An improved running game.
AI does not throw the ball deep.
QB Comp. Percentages are high.
Too many pick sixes.
8.5
out of 10
NCAA Football 09 Videos
Member Comments
# 81 sportyguyfl31 @ 07/20/08 03:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by WallaceNails
If you ever want to play a College Football game that is the way you always wanted, then help. You have the EA guys here listening.

ROFL...Yeah, all of our valuable feedback has produced this horse cack product we are currently saddled with.
 
# 82 sportyguyfl31 @ 07/20/08 03:57 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdirty
IIf you enjoy this game I envy you, because I wish I knew just a little less about football so I could too.

This right here is the best sentence of them all.

This game is flat out painful to anyone who truly loves this sport.
 
# 83 jfsolo @ 07/20/08 04:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by sportyguyfl31
This right here is the best sentence of them all.

This game is flat out painful to anyone who truly loves this sport.
There are a whole lot of people on this board who know college football very well, love it more than any other sport, and still love this game. There are at least 30, 40 folks who say they love the game, who I would have lost the farm betting that they would have trashed this game mercilessly. To me its inexplicable. It will be interesting to see how things stand in a couple of weeks though.
 
# 84 Marino @ 07/20/08 04:35 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by sportyguyfl31
This right here is the best sentence of them all.

This game is flat out painful to anyone who truly loves this sport.
I love the sport and the game it is not flatout painful for me to play.
 
# 85 bears5122 @ 07/20/08 06:11 AM
867-5309, you are pulling out the most bizarre examples from last season. These things you listed happen in most of the games and most of the simulations. The fact completion percentage in one game was 90% last season, doesn't mean every game should have that in the video game.
 
# 86 WallaceNails @ 07/20/08 11:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by sportyguyfl31
ROFL...Yeah, all of our valuable feedback has produced this horse cack product we are currently saddled with.

Well, I have been on this site since 2002. This is the first time that EA has ever had guys here engaging the masses. Perhaps, NCAA 10 will have more of what the sarcastic blow-hards want.
 
# 87 Shadymamba @ 07/20/08 08:06 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by wEEman33
Poisoning the well won't make valid criticisms disappear.

I am neither a "newbie" nor an EA *****, I am simply a football fan who wants a football game that plays like this:



instead of this:



When EA release a football game that's closer to the former than the latter, I will gladly sing their praises. Until then, NHL 08 remains their only current sports series that's worth saying positive things about.

P.S.

The electric football comparison is probably giving the NCAA team too much credit; those games actually worked like they were supposed to when you opened the box and turned them on.
I havent gotten the game yet, but to this post here LMAO!!!!! this is too funny
 
# 88 bears5122 @ 07/20/08 10:14 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by 867-5309
Like pissed off gamers who pick out one or two odd plays in a game to make videos of showing off their grievances with the game? Instead of posting the hundred or so normal ones.
If you're talking about videos that show off the poor pursuit, it's not two obscure videos. The pursuit is bad on every play and not relegated to some random anamolly.
 
# 89 Chodite24 @ 07/22/08 08:48 PM
I've had the game rented since release and THANK GOD I didn't drop 60 bones for it. I enjoyed it for the first game or two but then began noticing some disturbing trends and bugs that have already caused me to tire of the game. Seriously, who does QA for these games? The same kids who do QA on EA's shooters? What a freakin mess.
 
# 90 OMT @ 07/22/08 11:20 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by dewdirty
While you want testers to use "use cases" and testing plans to test software, it also very important to have someone try and "break" the software you develop so you can find and fix bugs. I seriously doubt EA has done this for the next gen systems.
Ummm... no. Our testers have to do the occasional checklist, but they spend most of their time trying to break the game. And they are very successful and we fix the bugs they find. Video games, based on scope, have bugs in the thousands. Take a game like Grand Theft Auto 4.. based on the scope of that game, I would bet they fixed 30 thousand bugs before shipping that game. And no, that isn't an exaggeration.
 
# 91 GoVols1985 @ 07/22/08 11:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMT
Ummm... no. Our testers have to do the occasional checklist, but they spend most of their time trying to break the game. And they are very successful and we fix the bugs they find. Video games, based on scope, have bugs in the thousands. Take a game like Grand Theft Auto 4.. based on the scope of that game, I would bet they fixed 30 thousand bugs before shipping that game. And no, that isn't an exaggeration.
30,000??? Man, I bet the guys at Rockstar were about ready to shoot themselves by the time it was all over! No wonder they delayed that game so long, hell, with that many bugs to fix who can blame them?
 
# 92 Seahawk76 @ 07/24/08 04:27 PM
EA's football titles have frequently been overrated by reviewers since coming to next gen and it's unfortunate to see the OS reviewer doing it as well. The game has potential if it is patched but it simply has too many glaring bugs and gameplay flaws out of the box to rate anywhere near an 8.5. Tiburon needs to start being held accountable for its shoddy quality control by reviewers.
 
# 93 fistofrage @ 07/24/08 04:55 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by OMT
Ummm... no. Our testers have to do the occasional checklist, but they spend most of their time trying to break the game. And they are very successful and we fix the bugs they find. Video games, based on scope, have bugs in the thousands. Take a game like Grand Theft Auto 4.. based on the scope of that game, I would bet they fixed 30 thousand bugs before shipping that game. And no, that isn't an exaggeration.
Seriously though, how do we find glaring problems within minutes of picking up the game. Either the testers don't know football, or they are popping in COD 4 instead of actually testing the game. There are just too many bugs and problems with this release to have any confidence in EA products. I would imagine that this will have a slight impact on opening day Madden sales.

I am just hoping you guys can get this stuff right. Could be a great game if properly addressed.
 
# 94 tbooth23 @ 07/25/08 01:33 PM
The graphics and gameplay on the wii version are plain terrible. It makes me wonder just how quickly this game was rushed into production. Then i noticed that while playing with South Carolina, my favorite team, home games should be played in Williams-Brice satdium but somehow they are played in the Miss. St. stadium. I am not sure how EA Sports can't get the satdiums right for all of the major BCS conferences. I mean if they can't get these teams right, how terrible is this game for fans of the smaller schools?
 
# 95 thmst30 @ 07/25/08 01:44 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by tbooth23
The graphics and gameplay on the wii version are plain terrible. It makes me wonder just how quickly this game was rushed into production. Then i noticed that while playing with South Carolina, my favorite team, home games should be played in Williams-Brice satdium but somehow they are played in the Miss. St. stadium. I am not sure how EA Sports can't get the satdiums right for all of the major BCS conferences. I mean if they can't get these teams right, how terrible is this game for fans of the smaller schools?
Of course the smaller schools are always the least important, and the most wrongly represented. Its just how it is. I don't like it, but I understand it to a degree.
 
# 96 Ugoddamrite @ 07/25/08 03:29 PM
College Football Atmosphere???... Granted these comments have no impact on gameplay whatsoever... but I'd like improvements to the surroundings.

All the stadiums look awesome. I think the idea of the visiting team section visible in the stadium was great. BUT... Did anyone go to a college where the home team fans cheer for an visiting teams touchdown? How about more dynamic reactions. Show some home fans upset. Pan over to the visiting fans section going crazy. Have sideline benches going crazy on long runs/big plays. If I'm a visiting team blowing out the home team I want to see those fans filing out door. Empty seats towards the end of a game would be true atmosphere.

One more thing... why are the cheerleaders the only females in the stadium? Has that sausage-fest in the stands ever been addressed?
 
# 97 beachdude33 @ 08/05/08 09:50 PM
i mean it sis a good game n all but really a 8.5 may b like a 7. theres waaaaaaaaaaaaaay 2 many thingzz rong 4 it 2 b a 8.5!!!!!!! the roster thing wit the teams disapperin. the other ncca 08,07,06, ect. r waaaaaayyyy better wit all the patches comin out y make the game if ur gonna have soooooooooooooooooooo many problemos wit it. n EA is a good sports video game makin company sooooo i was waaay surprised by it all!!!!
 
# 98 beeftidefan @ 09/21/08 02:10 PM
I merely have two comments:
1) I do think that the QB% is too high, even though it helps me.
2) Why in the world is Ohio State an A+ team. The only thing I can think of is a huge bias. Come on, everyone will admit that the Big Ten is down this year, the SEC is up, and USC is on its own, so why not put it in the game. I think most of the other teams are about right, except USC and Florida should be better. (Well, Clemson is too good, but no one could have predicted that.) This is my first time playing this game in two years, but I can already tell you something about the people that made it. Sad.
 
# 99 koebsual @ 09/21/08 03:44 PM
Jones'n for this game bad, how would you all rate it now post patch #2? I don't need a perfect game anymore, won't happen anyways. I would like to hear some fair impressions with how it plays today compared to release. Thanks.
 
# 100 ugafandeardorff24 @ 11/26/08 12:00 PM
The only thing i want more out of this, and the next NCAA football game, is in dynasty mode, after a couple of seasons, i think they should give you an option to change up your uniform a little bit, maybe create a new uniform for that team......just throwing it out there, i think its a good idea.
 


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