NCAA Basketball 10 Demo Impressions

Posted November 5th, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Generally it takes a few times through to get a good feel for a sports game from a demo. However because of the similarities to NBA Live 10 the demo for NCAA Basketball 10 comes across as ultra accessible and familiar. Naturally much of what my impressions entail will be comparisons and contrasts between the two EA basketball games. Featured in the demo is a five minute half with North Carolina @ Duke with the CBS presentation package.

The demo is structured well enough to get a good feel for the game. Five consecutive minutes allows for getting in the flow of the action and a handle on any new features. Options wise EA has included the ability to change difficulty levels and camera angles. You can also set the tempo and motion offenses for the team before starting the game.

The first thing I noticed is that there is much more spacing in NCAA vs Live. The court feels bigger and the players are smaller. That makes the motion offense and passing in general less frustrating than has been found in Live. The game doesn’t feel as sloppy because turnovers are a little less prevalent, though forcing the CPU into them happens with relative ease.

I’ve never been much into running set plays in basketball games however the motion offense makes it much more natural to actually run an offense. Just tapping the LB gets the motion going and the Y button pops up over the players to pass to. Multiple passing options will eventually show up. I didn’t even need to practice the motion offense. In my first game I was running it and finding it beneficial. That in itself makes motion offense a big success as any new core feature really needs to be accessible to catch on.

Having spent 60% of the development time on the network presentation packages it is immediately evident that it adds to the enjoyment of the games. The presentation provides the feel and the emotion that people associate with the games they’ve watched on CBS. The commentary is much better in the demo than has come across in the few videos that have been released to date. There is less dead air and the emotion of Gus Johnson translates well when playing the game.

The overlays such as the Top 25 or Conference Records disappear way too quickly though. With how fast they go through them its almost like they were added just to contribute to the feel of the presentation instead of being up for the user to actually take note of.

Surprisingly one aspect of the demo I have come away disappointed with is the crowd noise. Much has been made of the home court advantage but the crowd does not react strongly. While certainly active they don’t come across exceedingly loud and reactions to events on the court don’t differentiate enough. A big three or a steal doesn’t get the roar you would expect compared to the consistent noise they are making. I don’t feel intimidated by the crowd in the way same way I do when playing Live even with the screen shake in NCAA. Compared to NBA Live 10 where the atmosphere is arguably the best ever for a sports game it just doesn’t match up.

I’m finding there to be more fouls on contact than in Live 10 and the players seem to be able to maneuver better to avoid it. However as I got more settled into the game I’ve been able to force the CPU into many contact influenced shots which severely reduces the likelihood they will go in. While there are some fouls being called and more ‘and ones’ on those it still seems to be the best strategy to contest shots by forcing contact.

Fast breaks seem better represented in NCAA. That may be due to the tempo or the ability to create more backcourt turnovers but whatever the reason it feels like you can force the issue and take advantage of mistakes better. In that regard the game feels slightly more balanced than Live.

While the game does come across less sloppy than Live I did find there to be flurries of turnovers. I was able to nudge the CPU pretty often while near the sidelines to force the animation where they lose the ball. The CPU also on a few occasions committed back court violations on accident and passed to players who were standing out of bounds. I also had trouble distinguishing the difference between a reaction scene to a turnover and anything else such as a timeout. The emotion being displayed doesn’t always tell the story.

I prefer the outside court in NCAA to the “Hangar” in Live for a couple reasons. The first is the loading time which I suspect will be much less in NCAA. The “Hangar” caused long load times in Live and it was accessed too often between modes. The outdoor court lacks the video screens which have proven to be more of an annoyance than anything in Live and you only need one player to shoot around with as opposed to the eight that Live includes in the gym.

Because of the familiarity with the controls and mechanics I’ve found NCAA Basketball 10 to have provided one of the better sports demo experienes I’ve played. The game really comes across well because of the fresh presentation and accessibility of the motion offenses. It is a shame that the PS3 won’t see the demo until after release because it is actually good enough to sell the game. While I still have doubts as to long term interest with the absence of an Online Dynasty it looks like NCAA will offer an enjoyable gameplay experience.