NCAA Football 10
Here we are with the 13th installment of the NCAA Football series. This is a series (along with Madden) accused of being a monopolizing aspect of EA Sports’ exclusivity deals. Many claim that EA just puts out the same game with a new feature and roster every year to do nothing but make money. Those people will love this review.
Let’s start off with the exciting part! There are two brand spanking new features in NCAA 10. Team Builder is EA Sport’s new Create-A-Team feature, bringing back the beloved feature not seen since NCAA ‘06. EA claims that this is the deepest Create-A-Team feature in history, which is true, but it’s very misleading in how deep this actually is. The creator is entirely web based, meaning you can’t edit rosters, appearance or anything on the system (besides in Dynasty, but this is talking about in general). And if you aren’t on Xbox Live, then you can’t even use your teams, dynasty, or anything associated with Team Builder.
The second new feature is Season Showdown. This is a unique new mode to the EA franchise that puts gamers’ true fan-dom to the test. At the beginning, you will select your favorite team, then every time you play a game you will earn points into three categories. The categories are: Skill (catching passes, user tackles, etc.), Strategy (using set-up plays) and Sportsmanship (Kicking on 4th down). You will continuously gain points for your team until the Season Showdown challenge is complete (which I imagine is at the end of the 09-10 NCAA Football season) and the final points leader will be announced as the National Champion.
Now to the old features. Road To Glory is the new revamped version of Campus Legend. The features of RTG are the same as Campus Legend was: start out in your high school playoffs, get signed, become a starter, become awesome. The new feature is Erin Andrews reporting on events in your career. After a big event (winning State, signing day, Heisman winning, etc), she (and sometimes Kirk Herbstreit) will appear and talk about your career. While this is minor feature overall, it does add some originality and excitement into everything.
Now for Dynasty mode. You can now create Custom Conferences, such as moving Ohio State to the ACC or whatever you prefer. Besides this minor feature, there is not a damn thing that has changed. Oh yeah, Online Dynasty is back too. It’s like Dynasty, except online with your friends.
Game play-wise, although there’s still not much change, a few new tweaks have been added. EA claims to have added 1000 new animations ranging from tackling to catches. It usually only takes a play or two to take notice of some of these, and to be honest the game feels a little more realistic than back on 08 and 09 where the ball jumps into the receiver’s tuck instead of him actually bringing it in with his hands.
An interesting add-on to single player games are the Player Lock feature. If you like the single-character perspective of Campus Legend, then this should thrill you immensely. Another add on is the game planning function. Whatever you choose on this function will determine the actions of your AI. They will either play “Aggressive” (causing bigger plays but more drops and fumbles), “Balanced”, or “Conservative” (the opposite effects of Aggressive).
Ok. So this is where I’m going to get somewhat temperamental. This game is the most true example of monopolizing off of the sports game market that has ever been created. Every single mode has a way for EA to make money. In Road To Glory, an option on the bottom of the High School screen allows you to buy “Unlimited 5 Star Prospects” for 100 points. An option on the Dynasty preseason screen is to buy an extra Pipeline state for 150 Microsoft points. But the most extreme and ridiculous part is the Team Builder feature. To unlock use of Team Builder teams, you have to enter a code found on the back of your game manual, and each code is usable once. So, renters and buyers of used games, enjoy either completely missing out on this feature or paying 800 Microsoft points to use it.
Achievement-wise, as with most other EA Sports games, this game isn’t too difficult. There are a few achievements that are a little time consuming. There are four achievements for reaching Level 10 on Season Showdown, 3 for the different categories and one for altogether. To reach level 10 you need ~1000 pts, which will take some time to build up (2 pts per catch, 4 per user tackle). Difficulty-wise the only toughie will be the Interception and Touchdown while using player lock, which may not even be a problem for Campus Legend pros. Achievement Difficulty: 2/10
Overall, NCAA Football 10 brings somewhat improved game play and pretty decent modes to the improved graphics system that 09 improved on from 08. Road To Glory adds a uniqueness with Erin Andrews’ cut scenes but is really just Campus Legend with a new interface. Dynasty is practically unchanged. Team Builder is a great add-on but could’ve done without all the monetary exploits imposed by EA, and Season Showdown could end up making NCAA a bigger game on the market like Madden has been since the early 90s. But, the monetary exploits seemingly featured around every corner makes probably the game’s coolest feature unavailable to those who didn’t buy the game new. 7/10