With last year’s title being nothing short of disappointing, fans of NCAA Football 08 where hoping for something more with this release. Fortunately for all of us, EA Sports made some huge strides from last year to provide us with a solid, enjoyable, and much deeper game this time around. One of the new features this year is the big hit ability. With a swift push of the thumb stick you can land a devastating hit with your MLB on a Wide Receiver coming down the middle. On the offensive side, you can use the same thumb stick to juke, stiff arm, and quickly interrupt your actions to swiftly move past the defenders in front of you. This though, while being a nice feature has its flaws. Sometimes you juke straight out of bounds and that ends your play prematurely, sometimes for a loss of yards which is really annoying. One feature that is not present in this game that was last year is the momentum system. This year, the new Motivation mechanics where introduced. Every time the user makes a tackle, makes catches, picks off a pass, a motivational boost is given to the player allowing him a better chance to make spectacular plays and it also influences players around them. Sadly, this feature is used sparingly throughout the game. You really never notice it too much throughout a season.
NCAA Football 08 Revives The Struggling Franchise
For those of you who remember last year, all animations had to be completed before proceding to the next which quickly got annoying. This year, players can interrupt their moves and cut in opposite directions or juke immediately after cutting providing a smoother game and a definite improvement over last year. To compensate defensively, NCAA 08 places an emphasis on gang tackles so players will find themselves getting plummeted by two or three defenders when going up the middle for a pass or hitting the secondary after a big gain. While on topic, the mid-air collisions are gorgeous this game. Overall, this game is the most hard hitting NCAA 08 game in a while, if not of all time. This is the perfect game to try out those new trick plays like the Statue of Liberty and the Lateral.
As far as Presentation, the new highlight reel allows you to create and store your best plays of the game for later viewing and bragging to your friends on Live. Even better, play on Live and beat up on your buddy and never let him hear the end of it. Every time he comes to your house you can show him the highlight film, over and over again. Also, the Weather Channel has been including in this game allowing for real time updates of the weather. If its raining in your team’s stadium, you are going to play in the rain this week on NCAA 08. The highlight reel suffers in some ways from bad camera angles that requires manual adjustment. This does not take away from the feature, but it does show that it could be implemented better.
The new recruitment system in Dynasty mode provides you with the most in-depth recruiting process ever found in this game. You target 35 prospects and have to constantly communicate with them to try and bring them to your school. Good luck on bringing a 5 star to a no name school though. The system is implemented very nicely. Like I said, bigger programs get the studs while 1,2,3 and even 4 star programs are found collecting all the leftovers. Either way, with 14 topics to discuss with your player you can find out if your school is a match with him and you can sway him to sign before visiting your rival school that is 2 stars higher than you. Guess who wins that one if the prospect goes for a visit? Anyways, bad memories… moving on. While the system is creative and very deep, there are still some flaws with it. For example, a player might not be interested at all on a topic but you hard sell it to them and they are ecstatic to hear about it. Its minor little things that should have been polished so you don’t find yourself puzzled half way through the season asking yourself what the heck just happened. Also, something rather discouraging is the fact that medical red shirts were not included in this program nor can you run your players through drills to control their progress. Instead, the progress made is random and leaves you with a restricted control over your players.
Poor Linemen didn’t even have a chance
The Campus Legend mode is an inclusion that was not there last year and is very fun to play through. One of the best things is getting to play your prospect’s state playoffs during his senior year in high school. Your play there determines your prospect’s caliber as different scouts come and check out your performance. Aside from making a big splash on the field and practicing to become the starter on the team, or if you are the starter on the team, to sharpen up your skills for the upcoming week, you also need to take care of your academics if you want to keep playing ball. Overall, this mode is quite nice besides the occasional camera angles that sometimes get in the way and the fact that it is ridiculously easy to beat. One odd thing that happened to me and I have not heard it happen to anyone else, during the high school playoffs, an apparent glitch made my players and the opposing team run around in circles tackling each other. The ball had disappeared and we where just running around like monkeys which forced me to turn off my console and restart the game. This was quite hysterical but it also cost me the game since there was about 1 minute left in the fourth quarter. This never happened again though, maybe I just got lucky and unlocked a hidden bonus (Lol at that).
Graphically, some improvements where made but the engine definitely shows its age. EA, its time for a change. This year’s add-ons and animations helped, but eventually EA is going to have to rework the engine, maybe make a brand new one to truly provide a next-gen college football experience.
Looks like eye candy from a distance…
Overall, NCAA Football 08 provides a great college football experience while
throwing some unwanted and unforeseen curveballs at you while it is at it. While this game improved leaps and bounds from last year’s title and definetly laid the foundation for NCAA 08 greatness, you can’t help but feel that EA needs to step it up and spend a bit more time polishing their product to provide a truly jaw dropping experience.