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August 1, 2009

NCAA Football 10 for Xbox 360 - Later Impressions

In my previous post, I gave some first impressions of NCAA Football 10 after having only played a game and a half. Now, with 12 games under my belt, I feel like I have a little more to go on to give a fair assessment of the gameplay. I haven't done the "Road to Glory", where you take a player through the entire college experience, only playing your guy and not the entire team like you do in the regular game. I don't know if I will do this or not.

I have, however, done my favourite thing to do in sports video games: set up a dynasty. I'm using my beloved Iowa State Cyclones (who, admittedly suck big time this year, and you can see that in the player ratings) and I'm trying to coach them to the National Championship! Well, maybe next year...or a few years from now, at this rate. I'm currently 5-6 and having a lot of fun with it.

But this is a post about impressions of the game, so let's go to the Big Board and see what there is to say about it.

1) The first thing I said in the previous post was that the announcers sounded like they weren't saying anything new, but that was only after a game and a half. Now, I can honestly say, I'm not sure if they recorded anything new other than the player names and a few incidental comments, which included getting injury reports on the sideline from Erin Andrews, who wasn't in the game last year. Honestly, they say the exact same things as last year! Even the same lame jokes, though there are a couple I haven't heard yet that irritated me last year. Give them time.

That being said, this year the lead announcer, Brad Nessler, is actually giving out wrong information at times! That didn't happen last year, at least not to any noticeable extent. This year, it's happened a few times already in just 11 games. A couple of times he's said my running back got stopped in the backfield, and then immediately said "3-yard gain." Next year, they have to improve this.

2) The AI, on the other hand, actually looks pretty good. The default slider settings in these games are never good, so you do have to find some sliders that work. You can find them online, and then tweak them as necessary. Once you've got some good sliders, though, then you've got a (fairly, anyway) realistic game. I'm able to run the ball at will at times while other times I get stopped in the backfield like crazy. I can run the Option play and sometimes get stuffed, sometimes break it for a big gain.

The players seem to follow their ratings as they should. I am playing with a relatively inexperienced quarterback, and at times it shows. He throws bad balls for interceptions (not all of them user-error because I pressed the wrong button; sometimes the guy's wide open and my quarterback just misses him). My defense isn't ranked the best, so it often gets shredded, which is as it should be. Of course, like in all sports video games, there are the occasional "what the hell is that guy doing????" plays, where my defender doesn't even reach up to knock down a pass that goes right over his head, resulting in a CPU touchdown.

Overall, the AI is pretty good, though.

3) While there are lots of presentation differences as far as weekly schedules, recruiting, and the like go, there is very little difference in the substance from last year. Recruiting a player to go to your school is the same as last year, finding their interests and seeing if you can match them, or sway their opinion so it more closely matches what your school can offer. Eventually, the player will want to come to your campus and you set up a visit during a weekend where you have a home game. If you lose that home game, then the player's experience won't be very good, but otherwise it's a matter of what your school brings toward what his interests are. If they're not a match, then his experience won't be as good.

There is the added bonus of recruiting against a rival school. Say that you are #3 on this player's list and the University of Iowa (BOOOO!) is #1. You can recruit against Iowa, downplaying Iowa's strengths and heightening your own. I haven't used this much, so I'm not sure how good it is, but it's a nice idea.

4) The game graphics are about the same as last year, though they do look a bit crisper. The tackling animations are a lot better, though, and I love the gang tackle concept. No more of "only one guy at a time trying to tackle a player" phenomenon. Admittedly, it was similar last year, but there definitely seem to be more animations this year.

The stadiums are gorgeous, and I believe pretty good reproductions of the real stadiums. Jack Trice Stadium in Ames looks beautiful, as does the stadium at Texas A&M, just to name two. Also, while I do wish the game could handle gradual weather effects on the field (the turf getting torn up in the rain, daylight slowly fading as the game wears on), I do like the differences between the first and second half. The change is quite sudden, though, which is why I wish it would gradually get darker as the first half wore on. Also, a change in the weather would be nice, for example the snow stopping during the game (or even better, starting during the game!).

All in all, the graphics are top-notch, with a few clipping problems (such as when a penalty is called and the referee walks through a player).

NCAA Football 10 is a nice upgrade on last year, but they drastically need to upgrade the presentation. That was my first impression, and it has just been reinforced since I have played more games. It's nice to have injury reports from Erin Andrews rather than instantaneous diagnoses as soon as the injury occurs, but they need something more. They need a weekly scoreboard show or something to make the time in between games more exciting. I used to play the College Hoops 2K series, and one of the best things was the weekly show! You'd get highlights from a couple of games (though they were often the same highlights over and over, it was a start) and scores from around the league, plus talk on recruiting and such. This series really needs something like that.

While the game is good enough that I'm glad I paid full price this year, if it shows the same amount of "progress" next year (i.e. not much), then I can't imagine doing so again. It really needs a shot in the arm to make it the best college football game in the business. The fact that it's the only game in the business right now is the only reason it's reached that lofty height so far.

8/1/09 Edit: There's one extremely annoying thing I forgot to mention. I don't know if it's just the Xbox 360 version of the game, but there is a distinct pause or momentary freezing sometimes when making the transition from the play-calling screen to the actual gameplay and vice versa. Also, going to the pause menu will get this pause. It's very frustrating, and I hope they patch this soon.


  1. Nice post. i learned so much about football. thanks for posting.

  2. You're very welcome! Thank you so much for commenting and stopping by.


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