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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?