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July 25, 2009

NCAA Football 10 - Xbox 360 (First Impressions)

After doing my post this morning, reading some Twitter, and writing my one outstanding book review, I decided to stick NCAA Football 10 into my Xbox and fire it up. It immediately had an update to download, but I believe that was mostly a roster update. Per US law, college athletes cannot have their likenesses and names in a published video game or anything like that, but the players themselves are in there. If John Smith, Running Back for the University of Iowa, is #34 and is 5'11 and 190 pounds, that's what he is in the game as well. He's just not named.

Thankfully, the user community is very dedicated and they create rosters which have all of the names in there. Yes, that's right, 119 teams, 35 players (or so) on each team. So the first thing I did was download one of these rosters so that all of the names are accurate. Then I went ahead and tried the game, choosing my alma mater, Iowa State University.

Note, this isn't a review, as I've only played 1.5 games. Instead, these are just some impressions from these games, in no particular order.

1) Given I've only had half of a game with the actual announcers, I have to say that my first impressions of the announcing team is disappointment. Once again, Brad Nessler, Kirk Herbstreit, and Lee Corso are the main announcers. That's fine, and they don't do a bad job. But everything I heard from them was exactly the same as last year! A few new formations that they have to say, but that was it! I sincerely hope that I was just unlucky and that they do actually say some different stuff as I play further. I would be very happy if they just removed the bad jokes between Corso and Herbstreit. Erin Andrews has been added as a sideline reporter, but all she does is give injury updates.

2) I started a dynasty (I'm going to take Iowa State to the BCS Championship!), and once again there is no link to ESPN except the announcing team themselves. No "College Football This Week" or anything like that. 2K Sports was doing this with their NFL franchise 5 years ago, and probably more! I don't know if EA Sports' NCAA Basketball game has one or not, but 2K Sports did before they had to cancel last year's edition. Why is this so hard? It immerses you in your dynasty, making you feel even more like you're part of the whole NCAA football tableau. Instead, all you have is some "newspaper" reports on your team and other events around the league. That's fine, but something animated would be greatly appreciated.

3) It's hard to say since I haven't adjusted any of the AI sliders at all, but running seems to be a lot more realistic this year, at least from what I've seen. I was actually able to break a couple long ones for touchdowns, instead of getting stuffed at the line 80% of the time.

4) I'm also impressed with the passing game, at least in one sense. I haven't played it long enough to know whether there are any AI problems in the passing game, but one thing I loved is that the quarterback can throw up a floater when he's hit as he's throwing. I think that may have happened last year, but nowhere near often enough. Too often, the guy would either get sucked into a sack because the collision detection caused the players to go into "tackle" mode, or the guy would get off an amazing throw even though he got hit a split second after throwing it. Already in the games I've played, I've had the quaterback get hit while he's throwing, and the ball just floats as it should. Of course, it's possible this will be overdone, as EA has done this before, fixing changing something from not happening at all to happening too often.

5) The Dynasty mode, at least at the beginning, seems to be pretty similar to last year, just with a different presentation. One thing I do like, though I don't know yet how it will affect things, is how you can recruit *against* other schools that the recruit is considering going to. Say you're 4th on the recruit's list of schools to choose from. Nebraska's #1. You can recruit against Nebraska, seeing what the recruit is interested in and try to downplay it if Nebraska actually offers a better shot at that than you do (such as playing time, or team prestige). It should be interesting to see how that works.

I'm going to keep playing, of course, and I will probably post further impressions as I move further along. There are some differences from last year that I just haven't done yet (like "Season Showdown"), but overall, there is a lot that's the same, at least in presentation and dynasty mode. I haven't played enough to know how well the new stuff works, but I can already tell you that next year's game had better improve on the presentation and dynasty, or I will be greatly disappointed.

*edit:* I almost forgot the new way injuries are handled, at least part of the time. I had this happen once in the game, where one of my guys was injured but was returning to the game. It actually asked me if I wanted him to return, even though he was at greater risk of getting re-injured. I don't know if it will do all of the injury animation and stats reduction that Madden 10 is supposed to do this year, but it's a good start, anyway.


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