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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
# 1 Herky @ 07/15/08 01:45 AM
Why no mention of the roster bug?
 
# 2 jyoung @ 07/15/08 01:52 AM
Or any of the other (numerous) bugs, for that matter.

I realize these are two reviews by different people, but there is no way that this game is an 8.5 and All Pro Football is a 7.

People are still playing All Pro Football hardcore a year after release; this game is just going to get tossed in the garbage and replaced by another buggy, half-*** "sequel" in 2010.
 
# 3 PVarck31 @ 07/15/08 01:54 AM
I agree with this review. However I think IF the issues such as cpu comp%, Kicking, and AI deep ball are fixed it would put the game over a 9 imo.
 
# 4 nousername @ 07/15/08 01:58 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by wEEman33
Or any of the other (numerous) bugs, for that matter.

I realize these are two reviews by different people, but there is no way that this game is an 8.5 and All Pro Football is a 7.

People are still playing All Pro Football hardcore a year after release; this game is just going to get tossed in the garbage and replaced by another buggy, half-*** "sequel" in 2010.
Did you really expect these guys to rate this game any lower? You already know how this goes...EA is a big company, lot's of money...you can figure the rest out...no matter how many bugs/glitches, roster updating problems, lag, freezing, missing teams, dumbed down defense, etc...EA's football games will always remain in the 8s and above on alot of these gaming sites.
 
# 5 PVarck31 @ 07/15/08 01:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nousername
Did you really expect these guys to rate this game any lower? You already know how this goes...EA is a big company, lot's of money...you can figure the rest out...no matter how many bugs/glitches, roster updating problems, lag, freezing, missing teams, dumbed down defense, etc...EA's football games will always remain in the 8s and above on alot of these gaming sites.
If you are insinuating that OS is somehow "in bed" with EA you are wrong.
 
# 6 CU_Buffs12 @ 07/15/08 02:07 AM
you could dive over the pile near the goal line last year, does this guy know what he is talking about?
 
# 7 Custom36 @ 07/15/08 02:14 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by nousername
Did you really expect these guys to rate this game any lower? You already know how this goes...EA is a big company, lot's of money...you can figure the rest out...no matter how many bugs/glitches, roster updating problems, lag, freezing, missing teams, dumbed down defense, etc...EA's football games will always remain in the 8s and above on alot of these gaming sites.
Really, you should read the impressions thread starting around page 50. You may suddenly become "enlightened" that the game is far better than the reported "bugs." Even people that really hate these bugs (I'm looking at you, AA) still really like the game.
 
# 8 piggypablo7 @ 07/15/08 02:16 AM
I didn't read the review yet, but first thing I'm going to say is that the roster glitch doesn't make the game what it is...second of all...I'm going to say that the defense may be suspect on this game but i had a lot of fun trying to guess where the play was going to go and tayloring my defense to anticipate what was happening...I only had 1 bullcrap interception in my 1st game, no levatating linebackers...a fast WR is going to our run a Slower Linebacker....

but most of all...I had fun, and if all of the dwelling is on the roster glitch then put the game away...hope I didn't piss anyone off.
 
# 9 nousername @ 07/15/08 02:18 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Custom36
Really, you should read the impressions thread starting around page 50. You may suddenly become "enlightened" that the game is far better than the reported "bugs." Even people that really hate these bugs (I'm looking at you, AA) still really like the game.
Trust me, i'm looking at alot of impressions, and not just restricted to this site. This would be my first NCAA game, IF I get it. Last year's Madden was my first Madden in a while and it was garbage in my opinion...after all of the hype.

I'm very critical of these games...especially since I paid $400 for the system and have to turn around and pay $60 for the games...i'm not going to accept garbage, sorry.
 
# 10 prscorpio2681 @ 07/15/08 02:21 AM
People want to just rag on the game b/c its easier then just liking the game. The game sounds solid and for me ...All-Pro football wasnt that fun at all....ill pick up ncaa 09 and madden 09 for the 1st time since 05.
 
# 11 Klocker @ 07/15/08 02:33 AM
thanks for the review

do not listen to these newbies coming out of nowhere just to hate on EA.
 
# 12 BoomerSooner11 @ 07/15/08 02:46 AM
Great review, thanks!
 
# 13 jyoung @ 07/15/08 02:57 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Klocker
do not listen to these newbies coming out of nowhere just to hate on EA.
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.
 
# 14 scoobywho @ 07/15/08 03:12 AM
OK... first off I have a PS3 which is about to take the console Wars by STORM!!!.... but thats neither here or there.. LOL You guys act like you didnt enjoy the Damn demo!!!!... Man I aint gone lie .. I played it atleast 20 times,. and I know Im not the only one... But did we have rosters????... NO!! ..So shut up!! and go Buy it today! LOL ...and all pro football ..you trippin!! ... who plays that!! Now NFL2k5.. Thats the best ever ..but yet again thats neither here ir........ ok you get it!!! Ohh yeah.... madden 2009 had better be a high rating this year..... like always LOL.... im predicting PS3 to have a better rating now that we both got 60FPS yeah thats pretty much all yall had...NCAA 09 too! they better not cheat ethier!! ... if not challenge me PSN: scoobywho2g7
 
# 15 erivera7 @ 07/15/08 03:17 AM
An 8.5?

A roster bug.
Broken pass rush - confirmed by Ian (EA).
Broken punt/kick return - confirmed by Ian (EA).
Unrealistic QB TD/INT ratios.
Unrealistic QB completion %'s - confirmed by Ian (EA).
Lack of CPU deep ball.
Lack of penalties.

The game is fun, sure. But with all those flaws in the game, how is that an 8.5? Especially when the majority of the problems EA has openly admitted to being problems in the game.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic, I'm trying to be realistic. An explanation would be fantastic.
 
# 16 scoobywho @ 07/15/08 03:35 AM
yeah your right bro PS3 better be fixed!!
 
# 17 nousername @ 07/15/08 03:42 AM
Are OS and IGN somehow related? The beginning of this review sounds just like the one from IGN?? Same score as well...OS - 8.5...IGN - 8.4.

I'll be looking more into this game, see what others say about it...not reviewers either.
 
# 18 FutureVol @ 07/15/08 04:27 AM
..BOOOHOO Waaa.... im tired of hearing all of this bull about o no my QB ist Peyton Manning, my QB dosent have a laser rocket arm or this game dosent accurately portray the angle of the throwing arm from the elbo to the rotator cuff of each and every QB in the entire game....the defensive line on every team isnt like Glenn Dorsey was (b4 he got cheap shotted by that scumbag AUB o lineman....)the CPU d-fense dosent react like the 2008 LSU defensive unit..WAAAA ..shove it cry me a river , build a bridge and GET OVER IT!!!..shees quit complaining..90% of these winers and complainers have no idea what it is like to program a game..or even the 1st thing about it....i have the game and these "problems" havent occured yet for me that are supposedly soooo frequent...the game plays better than 2007 or 2008..and im not complaing..are there things i want in the game..sure...would i like to have COMPLETE control of any player i choose w/ out a glitch happening once every 6 hrs.of course..who wouldnt... do i think that EA and NCAA studios in general are getting thrown under the truck as far as money and suppourt are concerned..sure do..but still i mean they have less that 10 months to complete a game and market it to the masses..if you seriously believe even w/ the money and ppl EA has that they are going to sift through each and every code that less than 10% will even notice or care enought about to voice their opinions about ..YOU ARE CCCRRRAAAZZZYY!!!!! im not saying that they dont care..but u gotta be reasonable here even if we dissagree w/ them..THEY ARE STILL HUMAN>> not robots.. humans make mistakes..get on w/ ur life please..i am passionate about my football..ALOT i live it breath it, and play it ..for a career..in college so i believe that im about as comitted to football as u can be @ my age... but i am not going to sit here and bash ppl becasue a very few things arent the way I want them to be .....seriously if some of these ppl on here have nothing to do other than sit here and bash EA and NCAA here is my suggestiuon 2 u..GET A LIFE AND A JOB..plz!!!! society will b better 4 it and so will u ...i kno this thread is to voice ur feelings and thoughts and thats cool but over half the posts in this entire NCAA forum are "i hate EA" based or have some root in that we get it there is a personal vendetta for EA.ok MOVE ON.. i...have been sitting on these boards for about 2 months now..waiting and watching for this game and all of the news surounding it..i am personally impressed over by the game play.and i think this is personally a 60 bucks well spent..the wide open gameplay is great..and u can do stuff in the open field like never b4..i love it.. anyone who is reading this stuff ignore the naysayers and purchase this game u will not b dissapointed...are there faults ..yes but wat game have u played that is PERFECT!!..in every aspect ..i can say that i havent played one..and if u have i wanna kno which one it is...so yeah..thats my piece overal good game i love it and while im @ home i will b playing it ALOT!!!!..


-peace.....

p.s. i hope OS dosent ban this..im just speakin my mind while givin my overal opinion on the game..love u OS..lol
 
# 19 jyoung @ 07/15/08 04:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by vic5451
Was there a Tecmo Bowl released every single year? Was there a Baseball Stars released every single year? No, and that might be the reason why those games were such classics.

There's no reason why EA couldn't go to a model where they release Madden/NCAA every other year or maybe even every third year, and in the years in between they could release a patch with a roster update or something for like $25.
E
And the reason those games weren't released yearly is because you actually had to put out a quality product to get noticed amongst the crowd of competing products back then.

Here are the number of sports games that were put out on in the (roughly) 5 year run of the SNES:

Quote:
Baseball (49) Basketball (31) Football (20) Golf (25) Ice Hockey (14)
Now here is where we're at in year 3 of the Xbox 360:

Quote:
Two companies account for almost all those games (2K/EA), and of course, those numbers are only going to go down now that 2K sports is left making only three sports games: hockey, pro baseball, and pro basketball.

With no competition, and a fan-base that continually rewards EA by purchasing several million copies per year--including tons of people who willingly purchase what they admit to be a mediocre product--EA has no reason to stop charging people full price for their marginal, yearly updates to what has become a sagging, wrinkly football engine that gets prettied up once a year with little more than some shiny makeup and lip gloss.
 
# 20 Klocker @ 07/15/08 05:03 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by erivera7
An 8.5?

A roster bug.
Broken pass rush - confirmed by Ian (EA).
Broken punt/kick return - confirmed by Ian (EA).
Unrealistic QB TD/INT ratios.
Unrealistic QB completion %'s - confirmed by Ian (EA).
Lack of CPU deep ball.
Lack of penalties.

The game is fun, sure. But with all those flaws in the game, how is that an 8.5? Especially when the majority of the problems EA has openly admitted to being problems in the game.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic, I'm trying to be realistic. An explanation would be fantastic.
acknowledging that he sees what you are talking about from a film or two is one thing (which he did IMO) CONFIRMING that it's a major bug is another thing (which he did not do IMO)
 

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