NCAA Football 10 Impressions

Posted July 15th, 2009 at 3:36 pm


While I haven’t been able to spend extensive time with NCAA Football 10 I did want to post up my initial impressions. After reading through some reviews it’s clear that the game is getting credit for things it probably shouldn’t, but also getting knocked in areas unfairly. I stated in my E3 impressions that people who enjoyed NCAA 09 would likely enjoy NCAA 10 a great deal, and that those who strongly disliked 09 would not feel differently this year. It appears that has come to fruition with a strong swell of positive reactions but also a segment that doesn’t feel the game advanced enough.

This past weekend I posted up a step by step walkthrough for Teambuilder along with my general thoughts on the feature. Teambuilder has been a huge success exceeding expectations in implementation and providing added value to the game. The only real issues have had to do with searching by gamertags and profile connecting conflicts. Outside of that though it has been a very good launch of the feature. Hopefully those searching issues are ironed out soon and next year they add a “queue” to the website so you don’t have to go through the tedious process of searching for teams in the game.

Last year I warned people that the demo was representative of the final product. For whatever reason there were others who had played prerelease and made it seem like the final game was going to be significantly better. This year though I think it is clear that people are finding the game to be much better than the demo. Whether that is because of enhancements that were made in the window after the demo but before the release, or because the restrictive nature of the demo didn’t allow the game to show off it its improvements, is a good question to ponder.

Overall the game feels much cleaner than the demo and the E3 build that I played. Of course it still feels very similar to 09 but with several tweaks that make the gameplay much tighter and more enjoyable. This is also one of, if not the most, fully featured sports game ever.

One of the first things I came across that was bothersome was the overpowered kicking. This has plagued NCAA as long as I can remember. College kids simply do not nail 50+ yarders like they are routine. I’ve come to the realization that the NCAA developers do not see this as a flaw but instead they desire to essentially reward people for crossing midfield. Ironically Madden, with the professional kickers, has balanced kicking power with only the best kickers being able to make those really long attempts.

If you’ve been tracking my Road to Glory reports you know that I’m finding the mode enjoyable and the special presentation that tracks your player is extremely well done. I can’t seem to slip the feeling though that the non-premiere positions continue to be neglected with things like practice and performance ratings still being slanted towards just putting up stats. Where is the FIFA type system of playing your role?

While Season Showdown has proven to be non-intrusive it still appears to be a feature has marginal appeal. I can understand following along with the statistics but other than that it is basically a feature that is just there in the background. It is certainly reasonable to express disappointment at the amount of resources dedicated to creating it when there were other ways to improve the game more drastically.

I really enjoy player lock and take advantage of it situationally. In essence though it is putting you at a disadvantage and maybe that challenge is part of the appeal. The camera angles work well unless you’re playing in coverage and the ball goes over your head. As a CB it is pretty much impossible to cover down field on something like a fly route because you’re running in sync with the receiver, the ball crosses over your head, and the camera shifts meaning you have to push the stick the opposite direction. Either you start running the wrong way or have to stop and restart because of that transition.

Game Planning is a nice strategic addition that is especially valuable in being able to affect how your CPU teammates play. But “Aggressive” should really just be called “Ultra Risky”. It is ridiculous how many facemask penalties you get on defense. I understand that it is supposed to be risk reward, but players shouldn’t lose all discipline because of it. It basically negates going aggressive unless you are in an utterly desperate situation.

I still like the addition of the linked setup plays especially after I learned at E3 that they have to be 100% for it to matter and that it definitely didn’t mean an automatic big play. It is nice to have one in your back pocket to try in the right situations which adds that element of strategy throughout the game.

Because of the improved AI the scores are kept down compared to last year. You probably need a good 6-8 minute quarters to put out realistic stats and scores.

While the pass rush isn’t terribly effective the added element of the QB throwing while getting hit makes it feel as though there is more urgency to get the ball out in a reasonable amount of time or that you have a chance of disrupting the QB’s rhythm.

Playing in the rain definitely changes the feel and strategy. I had a RB try to make a cut on a pass route and slip and that effected my timing and the result of the play.

What happened to the crowd chant audio? The defense chant is embarrassingly bad.

While I haven’t been able to play online yet it sounds like this is the best year in NCAA’s online history. Lag has always plagued the series and even last year there was always a sluggish feel compared to offline. With other EA Sports games having provided much better online experiences it is about time that NCAA comes through with consistent and smooth play.

I was disappointed to see the Online Dynasty website has not advanced from last year. Again basically all it is good for is checking up on the status of your dynasty.Why did they not add the ability to look at stats in the very least?

So the EA Locker has the “fixed” rosters and unfortunately they are still terrible. Whether you want to believe they are so inaccurate because of the lawsuits currently active against them or because of ineptitude from whoever created them is certainly up for debate. Admittedly I would never know the rosters were off since I don’t recognize many players outside of the big name guys. The majority of consumers would have no idea either. However that isn’t an excuse to pass off a roster set that is a complete mess including players that have graduated or are long gone from their respective teams still active in the game and a lack of incoming freshman. It lends some credence to the article I wrote a while back about how NCAA seems to be heading towards a fairly (or fully) generic roster.

This may end up being a PS3 issue given that I have not played it on the 360 yet, but there is an occasional pause when going from the field to the play call screen. It usually lasts 2-3 seconds and is pretty annoying.

I still go back to a feeling I have expressed in the past. I just don’t feel any emotional attachment when playing the game. There is no passion, no emotion, no real excitement. When you watch college football you see those things. But throw a critical TD in a big game in and it is like nothing special happened. The players walk around, you might see someone jump or pump their fist. Proper presentation and atmosphere is needed to take the NCAA series to the next level.

I expect I’ll get a lot of value out of NCAA Football 10 through Online Dynasty and Teambuilder. There have been some inexcusable issues such as with the rosters, the broken sliders, and the paid downloadable content that EA should be held accountable for. Despite that again it looks like the game will be fun enough to overlook the flaws. Regardless I can’t shake the feeling that Madden 10 is going to arrive and put NCAA to bed.