NCAA Football 09 Wii Impressions

Posted July 26th, 2008 at 9:13 pm

As the first of the All-Play titles it was pretty obvious that EA Sports didn’t have much confidence in NCAA Football 09 for the Wii. I even noted that a while back when EA was showing off the whole All-Play lineup…except for NCAA. Even feature wise it didn’t match up lacking the online component that the others had.

I took a different approach with this game (and will do the same with all Wii titles) going into it looking for something different. Would it provide a quick paced and fun experience? Few hardcore sports gamers are only going to have a Wii. It’s much more likely that someone would pick up the Wii version as a complimentary title to one they’ve already purchased for the 360 or PS3. So head-to-head would be a focus, areas such as the mini and mascot games would need to provide enjoyment, and how well the controls worked would be critical.

Continue on to read my initial thoughts on the Wii version of NCAA Football 09 along with a gameplay video.

Given that I don’t have much experience playing sports games on the Wii there was an adjustment in getting the controls to feel natural but soon enough I had the basics down. Since the game is targeted at a casual crowd it is supposed to be easy to catch on to. At times though I got frustrated by some non-responsiveness. Specifically not pitching or throwing the ball and throwing to the wrong receivers.

With All-Play turned on it locks into “Junior” difficulty. When I turned off All-Play and upped the difficulty to All-American I found the CPU to be somewhat better on defense but just as inept on offense. Through several games the CPU had scored only once on me. While that made the game feel easy it still didn’t make me think the casual type would enjoy playing the game. Level of ease doesn’t always equate to the amount of fun being had. The lack of features just makes all that even more evident.

I’m not really a fan of the new play calling system which only displays three plays on the screen at once. In the basic play calling mode essentially the same handful of plays will be used throughout the game. There is still the ability to have all the formations and plays available to choose from but displaying only three on screen at once makes it more tedious to scan through.

Kicking is incredibly easy. I’m not even sure if you can screw up a kick. Every one was perfectly straight ahead (unless adjusting the directional arrow) and had full power.

There were many instances where I was attempting to throw to one receiver but it would throw to a different one, almost as if it didn’t register my selection of the receiver. There also seemed to be a high frequency of dropped passes.

I dislike having A as the button for no-huddle. As I tried to move along I’d hit A out of habit from playing on other systems and here it resulted in unintended no-huddles. It’s almost as though they are encouraging that to move the game along even faster.

Not being able to pull up the play art before the snap is a terrible omission also, as is the inability to see what package the offense is in so you can choose a defensive play accordingly. Along with not being able to audible or make pre-snap adjustments just makes the separation between the 360/PS3 games and this one even more evident. It obviously is not intended for those who find options such as those to be important.

It’s not even worth going into the TD celebrations using the Wiimote, the whole thing is just completely embarrassing.

The mascot games don’t really seem to offer much of a difference compared to the regular games, except that they’re all mascots. They games don’t even have a more arcade or easier feeling.

Involving more participants can make for some fun moments, and I found it to be more enjoyable playing co-op rather than head-to-head. Still it’s hard for me to picture anyone getting excited to fire this game up regardless of being head-to-head or vs the CPU.

I realize they wanted to speed up the experience as seen by the quick play calling screen and no cut scenes. Why not then just remove extra points? I found myself being annoyed by having to sit through them. I might rather just have an automatic point given unless opting for the opportunity to go for two. That would fit more with what they’re trying to do here even if just for All-Play settings.

I was shocked to find that there were no mini-games. All you get are the regular and mascot games along with dynasty and practice mode. I was actually looking forward most to the mini-games and the absence of them would certainly make this game less appealing to the casual crowd.

Graphically the game is marginal falling along the lines of what would be expected on the Wii. Having completely bare sidelines though is disappointing. Obviously they just concentrated on the on-field experience by adding such visual touches as a ball trail.

While the game has some potential for fun when multiple people are involved it is no where near enough that I could recommend it to anyone. I don’t see much appeal to the casual crowd and there’s no question that the hardcores would find nothing positive about it. The biggest thing that hurts is the lack of features and modes as the gameplay still has a familiar PS2 feel to it. I’d rather they just come out with an over-the-top NCAA arcade game. Looking ahead it would appear that Madden, Tiger Woods, and Fifa would be much better options for those who want to pick up one of the sports titles on the Wii.