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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published by: Electronic Arts
Developed by: Tiburon
Genre: Sports
Players: 1-4 (online)
Release Date: July 15, 2008
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Electronic Arts is a company known for its sports franchises and how they are constantly reinventing their gameplay mechanics to keep up with the times and how the game of football has changed. Whether it is Arena football, the NCAA or even the NFL, EA has tried to make sure it captured the true essence of the sport, while making it entertaining for all those willing to get the games a try. While the NCAA Football franchise has garnered success over the years, it has never quite been able to stand toe-to-toe with its bigger brother Madden. However with NCAA Football 09, developer Tiburon is bringing new life and new features to the franchise that will definitely make it stand out from last yearís installment, while showcasing its potential to be a globally adopted series like Madden.

Hopping right into the game, you will notice several changes and enhancements that make the action on the field more intense and realistic. My favorite enhancement to NCAA Football 09 is the ability for the Quarterback to regain his composure after tossing an interception via the Quarterback Quiz. If you quarterback happens to toss an interception on a pass place, a new window pops up with a set of pictures and three different defensive schemes. Once this happens, you must decide what play was used by the defense, which resulted in an interception. If you guess right, the QB shakes of the mistake and preps for re-entry onto the field. However, if you happen to choose the wrong play, your playerís confidence in him will plummet, raising the possibility of more interceptions being thrown within the game. Whether you find this feature enticing or ridiculous, in the end, it will help you in understanding play calling.

On the offensive front, players now have the ability to chain together various breakaway tactics when trying to avoid being tackled. Within in previous installments, the players were limited to simply performing a juke or a spin by themselves, before performing another offensive move. Within NCAA 09, players can link together many of these tactics, resulting in more realistic gameplay mechanics. Imagine running up the field, only to spot a defensive player trying to tackle you. You bust a spin, to avoid his attack, but right when you spin out the way, another defensive player tries to tackle you from the other side, well now you can perform another spin or a juke without having the previous animation to be completed before performing your next one. Even your quarterback has a few tricks up his sleeves. Say you are calling for a Hail Mary play, and you are being rushed by a defensive line member, at any point after hiking the ball, you can perform a pump fake, which most of the time gets the player to leave his feat, thus buying you some time to either run, or just dodge their attack before passing the ball.

On the defensive front, you can expect to see true teamwork and hits that will make you shake in your boots. There is a stronger presence of group tackling, often times have two or players gang up on a runner trying to manipulate a whole in the defensive line. Depending on what team youíre playing when on offense, you will come across some interesting situations where as soon as your receiver catches ball within a cross route play, he his hit with one of the stiffest shoulders, resulting in either a dropped ball, or simply a laid out receiver at the feet of the defensive player. While all this is good in keeping the action intense and real, the best part of the defensive gameplay mechanics is the attention paid to the possibility of an interception. In previous titles, when a defensive player tips the ball, 90% of time there was no way of catching the ball for an actual interception. In 09í, the ball can be tipped be a defensive player, resulting in either that player catching the ball, another player diving the tipped ball, or simply the offense being able to regain control of the tip to keep the ball in play.

Within the visual department, the emphasis is placed on the gameplay on the field, which results in suffering I other areas of the game. Iím not saying that you canít make out any of the characters within the audience or the players on the sidelines, but there is less attention paid to those areas as compared to the on-field players. He crowd character designs are rather repetitive, offering up same responsive animations during the game, whether cheering or booing. The sideline players showcase bland looks upon their face, not really offering up any emotions at all. However, putting out attention on the field, everything is pretty much a success store. Hundreds of new animations have been utilized by Tiburon, enhancing player movements and realistic presentation. Each player is highly detailed and stylized, offering up a greater variety over the character models that are used within the crowd settings. Overall, NCAA Football 09 boasts several improvements in the area of visuals, showcasing that Tiburon and EA have come a long way within the series.

When you talk about fanfare, nothing comes close to college football, which is evident within NCAA Football 2009. The crowd atmosphere is very influential in a teamís success or shortcomings on the field via tons of different chants. Adding to the vocal power of the crowd is the inclusion on custom soundtracks. Though a regular feature for Xbox 360 titles, within NCAA Football 09, it has been enhanced, taking the gaming experience to new heights. Now you can either select sound effects are sounds to play at certain points within the game. The announcers, from time to time, maybe a bit repetitive with their commentary, but not to the point where it would ruin the overall experience.

If playing with your friends or strangers over the internet isnít enough fun for you, you can jump into two returning modes, Campus Legends and Dynasty Mode. Within Campus Legend, there is a strong emphasis placed on building your created player from a simple high school star, into a college powerhouse player. Most of the time will be spent on the field training your player, building his stats, however this mode also allows for three additional tasks to be formed by the player. These task include hit the books, go to the gym and study your playbooks. You also have the option to go through a whole weekís worth of training with your player, quickly building his stats and popularity on the field, however by doing this; your player would end up missing evening activities, which can affect his G.P.A. and all-around stats outside of the field.

Dynasty Mode plays host to several improvements, which add an extra layer of depth to the overall game. Now you have the ability to assign different tasks to your assistants, which help the overall building factor for your team, while freeing up time for you to personally recruit the players you are really interested in. Not stopping there, you also have the ability to call up potential prospects on the phone, which can give you information that you may of havenít collected during your recruiting phase. With this feature, you learn more about a player, which can result in your painting the overall picture of the prospect and helping you determine whether heís worth your time, or if you should move on. The most important aspect of the Dynasty mode is having the ability to take your offline dynasties online, or taking your online dynasties offline. This feature alone makes the dynasty mode worth investing time into, in sharp contrast to that of the Campus Legends mode.

Bottom Line
Anyone who has been to a college football game knows itís all about the atmosphere and how great or little of an impact it has on a teamís performance. From the beautifully render stadiums, to the enhanced player animations, to even the depth of features and modes makes NCAA Football 2009 one of the premiere sports titles to have in your arsenal. Though still plagued with a few issues within the gameplay, this is an all-around experience any fan of football simply canít pass up.


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